All post-divorce relationships are different. Few are good, even fewer are great, and most of what I see when it comes to couples' post-split relationships is quite honestly, hideous.
This is how a trip to the ER changed my post-divorce relationship and how I feel about my ex.
I will probably remember June 27th as clear as can be for the rest of my life. I was lying on a lawn chair on my back patio, stealing a few minutes of bright sunshine while on a conference call for work. Ah... the life. I'm catching some serious rays while landing a pretty big deal for my business.
I hung up and started walking back into the house, happy as can be, when I got another call from a number I didn't recognize.
"Hello, this is Jackie," I answered.
"Hi Mrs. So and So, this is So and So from your son's camp. Uh..." She starts nervously stuttering and that's when my heart began to pound.
"Well, there was an accident. Your son's head is bleeding pretty badly. We have an ambulance on its way. You should go to the hospital."
Now I was frantic. I seriously was out the door within three seconds.
Just before I pulled out of the driveway, I called my ex-husband. He didn't pick up. "Call me. It's an emergency," I texted. He called back a couple minutes later, as I'm flying to the ER.
Through tears, I said, "Go to the emergency now. There was an accident at camp and our son's head is bleeding. That's all I know."
"Be right there," he said.
My heart continued to pound. I couldn't stop shaking, and tears were streaming down my face as I kept repeating, "Please, God, let him be okay, Please, God, let him be okay..." over and over.
I waited at the hospital for the ambulance and when it got there, I got to go to his room, where I saw my sweet little boy sitting there, brave as can be.
I had stopped crying because the lady at the front desk told me to. She said if I cried in front of my boy, it would scare him.
So I smiled and hugged and kissed him and held his hand. I was told pretty immediately that he needed four stitches in his head, but all in all, he was going to be fine.
A couple minutes later, in walks my ex, his eyes red, the most worried look I think I've ever seen on his face.
And here's why I'm posting this story on HuffPost Divorce --
Two people can have a miserable marriage. They can hate each other at times, argue, fight, call each other names, say cruel things, and do mean things to each other.
And then they can decide to get divorced, during which the behavior and the name-calling and the fighting and arguing gets worse and worse. And even after the divorce is final, their relationship can be gosh darn awful. Cold exchanges, bitter comments, court appearances post-divorce. One of them may even be in a serious relationship, getting ready to get married again.
At that moment, despite all the ugliness we'd been through in the past six years, I wanted to hug my ex-husband. I wanted to tell him he didn't have to worry because everything was fine. I wanted to tell him that nothing on earth really matters except for our children, and that the divorce seemed so minimal and stupid and meaningless. I'll go so far as to say for a minute, I even wanted him back. I wanted to erase the past six years and pretend it didn't happen. I wanted my family back together.
But let me be clear. After the shock and the devastation of what happened wore off, I realized those feelings were false and temporary. But, they had been there. I'm not sure if that's a natural reaction, or if I'm unique. But I think when something like this happens, the resentment, hostility, coldness you feel for an ex instantly disappears. The incident brings you back to what is truly important in life, and it makes you realize that the pettiness and the hate and the anger are a waste.
All I know is that my son is fine, and really that's all that matters. As for my ex, maybe this can be the start of a friendship. I can only hope. Because friends are people who have things in common, and what can you have more in common than the commonality of both of you loving your children?
In a way, my ex will always be my best friend, for only one reason: that he co-created my two favorite human beings on earth. That's a pretty good friend.
Accidents and tragedies and deaths change people's perspectives drastically. But 99 percent of the time, it's temporary. The perspective switches back after the tragedy ends. I guess the lesson is to try to keep the perspective even when things are good.
Today, the sun is shining again. It's a great day, like every other day I'm not in the ER. Keep that in mind next time your ex does something that really bugs you. "Who cares?" is a good reaction.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)