Tell a New Story About an Old Pattern

Pete picks me up from the airport with our three-year-old son. He tells me they have just shared cookies—which my son has never in his life been allowed to eat due to a gluten sensitivity. Evidently, Pete has forgotten this primary piece of information.

When we were married, this kind of mistake was symbolic to me. It represented the ways I could not count on my husband to stay present to caring for his family. Blame a primary contortion around which my heart’s armor took shape.

In divorce, Pete is simply an exhausted man who was up in the night with his son and who has spent the past, three hours running around the airport with him—in order to be helpful to me. In divorce, the cookies are simply an oversight. Today, I can speak to Pete about it in a way that will not shut him down further. I can hold this moment apart from the years of disappointment and simply let it be what it is: two cookies.

My son shakes a glitter of snow over his globed replica of downtown St. Louis and tells me this is the best gift he’s ever received. Pete drives us home.

*****

Are there stories whose flames you stoke to keep blame alive? What if you could exit the repetitive patterns of your unhappiness with your co-parent by keeping your attention entirely focused on a single moment of compassion? Can you let two cookies be two cookies, without adding the entire weight of your heartbreak to a single mistake?

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