Do You Regret..the Divorce?

I have asked my close friend this very question on more than one occasion. Do you regret the divorce? Her answer – yes. She would have stayed married if she had known how things would have turned out when she got a divorce. Her ex-husband was extremely hurt by the divorce. The hurt morphed into anger and the anger has been fueled by his current girlfriend. Who is suffering? The three innocent children caught in between. So had she had known, she would have stayed to avoid the hurt caused to her children on a consistent basis. But no one can predict the future. Even a well thought out divorce can stray from the initial intentions. Nothing is ever easy.

Asking her this question, made me think about myself. Do I regret the divorce? I don’t. I am sad. And there are still moments of grief for what was lost. Sometimes the sadness can even present as regret. But as the days unfolded during our separation and ultimate divorce, the reasons why it was for the best slowly rose to the surface. Initially, I felt guilty, feeling unfulfilled in a way which made me feel awful. What I didn’t understand then was why. Why did I feel this way? I was very much on the surface then, not digging or discovering how I got to that point. Yet, there was so much.

So no, I don’t regret the divorce.

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Thought Provoking

“You don’t need her permission to be her parent.”

Last night T and I watched “Collateral Beauty” on a recommendation from a friend. The above quote was spoken by Will Smith to his friend and company partner out of disappointment. See his friend wasn’t fighting for his daughter who had openly expressed hatred towards her father for causing her parent’s divorce. This movie was filled with inspirational quotes and thought provoking statements..but this one stood out like a flashing neon light. Why? Because not only did I witness my ex-husband push our oldest son away while we were married, but I have watched this unfold and intensify since our divorce. I don’t think I could ever put into words how I feel when he hurts my boys. It’s a pain that becomes nearly unbearable. My words try to provide some insight hoping that one of these times they will stick and offer an “ah-ha” moment. Unfortunately, this does nothing but assure my ex-husband only more firmly plants his heels into the ground as though this action is somehow him proving he is no longer under my “control.” Without me “making” D visit with his dad, he hardly ever does. I backed off several months ago mostly out of exhaustion and lack of support and reinforcement from my ex-husband. And it became more and more apparent once again, that their relationship is not mine to save. But it does hurt. Their time together has dwindled. My ex-husband has repeatedly said “I’m not going to argue with him.” Somehow he misses the fact that him not assuring some time each week with his son is as good as verbally stating “I don’t care.”

If D is being disrespectful or challenging to parent, I am provided no support. He doesn’t parent. At all. And when I made that remark to him “you just drive off and don’t parent,” he simply pursed his lips, shook his head yes, and drove away.

But there’s a pattern right. My ex-husband does’t fight for much. For money he will. He feels entitled to that – money. And he does put effort into his work..but that results in more money right? Anything else though, he wants easy. Parenting is anything but. And I sure would love a co-parent. Because the more tired I become, the more I feel I default at this parenting gig. No he doesn’t need D’s permission to parent him. But he does need the desire to parent him. And somewhere along the line, after the separation and ultimate divorce, that desire, however small to begin with, burned out in a way that I can’t and probably will never understand.

 

A Better Mom?

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.

Grief Will Stay

“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

Regret Versus Guilt

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

 

Cautiously Happy

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.

Stepping Back

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?