Perspective. Divorce may, just may, have enabled ME to be a better mom. The mom I was meant to be. Not what I expected. But a sudden, rather clear thought that came to be. Well isn’t that ironic.
“I don’t think you will ever get over the grief.” These are words spoken to me from my counselor a few weeks ago. Having a family, being a mom was my dream. And while I will forever and always be a mom, the dream of family has become fleeting. I will never have it now. One of the unfortunate consequences of divorce is along with dissolving all that is unhealthy, all that is good is gone as well. Try as I might to act like a sieve to catch the little shiny pieces, the holes are too big and all washes through. It has been so tiring on my soul.
My brother continues to tell me to lose all expectations to avoid continuous disappointment. But this is so hard. I have become a single parent in almost all aspects. Do you know how hard it is to parent a 17 year old boy? I envy those who can go to bed at night with someone alongside them. Someone to discuss the day, to problem solve, to truly be a partner in all of life’s challenges. I won’t use running solo as an excuse to be less of a mom. Trust me, I am doing all that I can to steer both of my boys in the right direction. But I confess there are moments I feel I teeter on completely breaking down.
As much as it hurts to continue to feel grief, it’s here to stay. Yes, grief won’t leave. But, it may be time for me to work on accepting the grief, letting it lay where it may fall. I can not change grief. I certainly can not go back in time and change my dream. But I can accept.
“Growth is uncomfortable because you’ve never been here before – you’ve never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breathe through it.” – Kristin Lohr
So by now you must know I carry a lot of guilt. Waxes and wanes, but always peaking its head around the corner daring to be seen, guilt is ever present. At times I am able to assuage this annoying and often incredibly persistent emotion. While other times, I succumb to the drowning effects.
Certainly regret and guilt are not mutually exclusive. They seemingly both stir up negativity in many ways. But for me, in my case of divorce, one does not mean the other. To clarify – because I carry this guilt does not equate to regret. Admittedly, the weight is slowly lifting. And yet, I truly don’t think will ever completely disappear. The definition of being a parent surely includes feeling guilt. Somewhere in there it must state “be prepared to go to bed many a night feeling guilty.” But, I did not choose divorce in that I ultimately had no choice. Despite the many good “things,” some of the best were not shining through or even present. For example, I want my boys to witness love at it’s core; to experience first hand what respect looks and feels like between two people who have promised their life together; to sense compassion; to taste the sweet, sweet taste of undying selflessness; to witness patience and self-control; to appreciate the ups and downs are to be travelled together.
Yes, there is a possibility that I will never be able to personally exemplify all of this for them. But, they are no longer living in a place where the opposite exists and teaches them all that should never be taught.
Guilt? Yes. Regret? No.
This morning I read a beautiful post. It was the reminder I needed. My boys are strong. And I think that maybe, just maybe, I am too.
‘Honey, that challenge was made for you. It might hurt, but it will also nurture wisdom, courage, and character. I can see what you’re going through, and it’s big. But I can also see your strength, and that’s even bigger. This won’t be easy, but we can do hard things.’ -Glennon Doyle Melton
My whole life I was told I was unhappy. And to this day my mom defends this by saying “I wanted to know what I could do to make you happy.” She even went so far as to say “You misinterpreted things (I said) as a kid.” Umm no….telling me I was unhappy, telling other people in front of me I was unhappy is pretty straightforward.
So now I look back and think was I unhappy? Or was I just living out what she placed on me, much like a self-fulfilling prophecy? I do know I was unhappy she would say this. I was unhappy hearing it. But was the core of me unhappy? I believe I was heavily unbalanced and seeking. Seeking someone or something to sit on the other side of the see-saw so that our legs would dangle as we sat perfectly balanced. Do you remember sitting on see-saws as a kid? It was no fun if the other person weighed that much more than you because you were left stuck in the air. And if the other person weighed that much less, well your legs would hit the ground so hard and your knees would bend to an uncomfortable angle. But when you found the perfect match, it was, well, perfect. And fun.
As I am trying to move forward to a healthier place in my life, I struggle with being wholeheartedly happy. Understand there are countless moments that bring me happiness. But…I proceed with caution. Divorce hurts. And I was hurt by others during this time. As a result, my heart doesn’t want to feel any more pain. It has become afraid. And timid. It has cracks and holes and bruised parts that are so desperately afraid of someone else taking it and not respecting all of it’s broken pieces. Or not even considering my heart at all.
Yes I am happy, but only cautiously so. Wholeheartedly?…..one day.
I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t quit, who fights for what I believe in, who doesn’t give up. I think that’s a big reason why I struggle with coming to terms with the divorce. I feel like I quit. I do know it’s much bigger, much more grey than black and white. But when I observe others not fight, not try, not do what they can to move mountains, I admit it bothers me. Particularly when it comes to my oldest son. D does not have a good relationship with his father. In fact, he doesn’t have much of a relationship at all. This is nothing new. Not a result of the divorce. I had actually, naively, hoped their relationship would improve with the separation and divorce. Some feel my ex-husband was/is jealous of D because D took attention away from him. But as long as I can remember, there has been a tension that exists between the two of them. Honestly, I am downright appalled sometimes at the direct attacks at D from his father. To say this rips my heart into tiny pieces is an understatement. Along the way, I have created opportunities for them to bond; I push for them to spend time together; I often act as a middle-man trying to calm situations. But no more. It’s not my relationship to save. And as hard as it is to see their relationship crumble even more, I know it’s the right thing to do – step back. My ex-husband feels as though he is trying and I do believe he feels like he has gone above and beyond. As long as he feels this way, things won’t improve. One first needs to realize the problem in order to fix the situation. And so I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
As a matter of fact, this Prayer will be helpful in other aspects of my life too.
Have there been times in your life when you have had to hesitantly step back?
Just last weekend I had the good fortune of being invited to a house party to watch the movie “Bad Moms.” Because it was a friend of a friend, I was in a way the “odd man out.” It was a group of women who all lived in a particular neighborhood…except for me. While the movie is definitely well worth watching – and let me just say I picked up more of the sentimental excerpts the second time around more than likely because the first time I was just laughing so much I simply missed them – it was the conversation prior to starting the movie that cements in my mind. Let me share….
The woman hosting made reference to her “soon-to-be-ex-in-laws.” This is a mom of three, full time mom and full time social worker, a woman of great humor, what sounds like a very trying past, and one I met through a mutual friend on a ski trip about three years ago. After that ski trip I honestly didn’t even remember her name. I had seen her maybe twice in passing usually at the school. But we ended up at yet another mutual friend’s home just a month ago and I became part of a conversation that included getting together to watch the movie “Bad Moms.” So here I was a bit of an outsider at a gathering with women I mostly did not know, but I knew the laughter for me would be medicine. However, the night presented me with another surprise.
This woman told me during the ski trip about three years ago she remembered starting her car to warm it up before making the three hour drive home. (She had only stayed one night so we didn’t share much conversation up until this point). When she came back in to gather the last of her belongings, our mutual friend and I had been discussing my separation. At this time, my husband and I were sharing two homes – which we continued for a year and a half. I remember the woman telling me I should travel and give presentations on how to separate in a healthy manner. I took this comment with a grain of salt. She was a social worker and I knew she was trained to be a good listener. And she was…she was listening. Before we all knew it a solid hour had passed and she suddenly remembered her car had been running this whole time.
Fast forward to the present, and she told me that conversation was life changing for her. Little did I know, her marriage had been struggling. She had been desperately trying to determine a healthy transition to separate but had only believed that was in theory and could not actually be executed. My story…my experience!….actually gave her hope. It gave her the courage to move forward slowly, but positively. And at the heart of all this are her three young children. The unfortunate part is that her marriage is dissolving. But the wonderful part is that it’s amicable. And knowing that that is occurring as a result of me and I actually gave someone hope, in return, gave me hope. Hope! Serendipity…it was all serendipity.
This is one of my absolute favorites; one I have quoted before and surely worth repeating.
“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”
― Jennifer Weiner, Fly Away Home
Rules of the challenge:
Three quotes for three days.
Three nominees each day (no repetition).
Thank the person who nominated you.
Inform the nominees.
Thank you to https://mysecondchancelife.wordpress.com who nominated me!
Today I am nominating:
Sara at http://mumturnedmom.com
Maria at http://collectingmnts.blogspot.com