Sometimes we find ourselves doing things that we never thought we would do. We find ourselves living and breathing an impossibility that lived beyond the highest mountains and deepest oceans of our fears. We find ourselves looking the enemy in the face and realizing, “Well shit. Haven’t times changed. I’ve been hiding in a cloud of fear that isn’t really the home of fear anymore. It’s just a cloud…my fear is just an illusion.”
“They” say that time heals all wounds. And in many regards, I don’t think that “they” could be any farther from the truth. Time changes our perceptions. Time flattens our emotions. Time scabs wounds that once bled freely. But, time doesn’t really heal the wounds in and of themselves.
After three years, I’m still wounded in many ways. I live quietly in my own shadow more often than not and have cemented the belief that people are not to be trusted. Instead of believing that people are inherently good, I believe that people try to be good, but, perhaps in their own superessendam modus, do what they need to do to save their own face, disregarding promises or the utmost intentions of good.
Three years later I am still broken. And there are pieces that will forever remain broken in me – perhaps by choice – but as an active reminder of the impermanence of life, relationships, trusts, value and opportunity. I guess for many people, these wounds would be a warrior’s call to building lasting and meaningful relationships; a lesson to value what you have and who you have and appreciate them while they last. For me, the jagged pieces of a life once lived are a reminder that I am alone. Alone by choice. But alone. Alone because I know deeply that when the tornado of life starts to kick up wind and twirl and toss me around in her chaos, I am the only one who can save me and my family. Me alone.
Because people won’t be there when you need them.
Even when they pledge forever and even when they pledge to always be there to help.
I know they won’t be.
On the other hand, three years later, I am strong.
And that alone is a powerful statement.
I am strong and a survivor.
And in my near state of solitude, I can say I am content with my life.
I’ll even make a reach and say overwhelmingly content.
After three years of searching furiously, trying to understand and fix my life, I have found an odd place of peace.
I have made choices, many of them unconventional, and many that have created their own torrents of upheaval and heartbreak.
But, I’d make them again.
And what is the culmination, you ask?
That I have finally reached a point where I am no longer looking back.
No longer holding on to the tail of sadness or the thread of bitterness.
I no longer have a red string tied to my finger to remind me of the pain of yesterday.
And that has created a very safe place for my kids.
When I graduated from college, my mom, dad and their ‘others’ along with my little brother and I went out to a celebratory meal.
My little brother, at the end of the meal said, “That was hella awkward, but the only meal I have ever had with mom and dad together.”
My parents had a blow-out, legal nightmare of a divorce that lasted the entirety of my little brother’s life. I think they divorced when he was three and the battles ended when he turned 18.
I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want to repeat history. I didn’t want my kids growing up knowing that their parents hated each other. I didn’t want my son, who was 3 when we separated to say at his college graduation, “That was hella awkward, but the only meal I have ever had with mom and dad together.”
My parent’s divorce was uniquely theirs and they each made decisions they felt were in our best interest as kids. I don’t judge or pick sides…especially now that I have gone through the same process.
The emotions that come with divorce are overwhelming and destructive. And it is so easy to see how I got swept up, and even driven, by the remaining emotions of loss, bitterness, anger and contempt my parents still had from their divorce that were perhaps reignited and brought back to life during mine. Seeing the clarity of of Divorce in retrospect gives me a different perspective of respect for my parents because I “GET” it now. And I get it deeply and darkly and in ways I don’t think my siblings, who have never married or had kids, will ever get.
However, now that time has passed, I have also taken a long time to reflect on how I want my kids to think of parents and marriage, and perhaps most importantly, divorce.
Eckhart Tolle once said, “Life will give you whatever experience is the most helpful to your consciousness”
Divorce, and the emotions and the spirals that followed, I believe, were the experiences I needed.
I don’t think that “need” is the correct word, but, I have learned a new way to value the fights of my parents, their choices – and the implications of their choices, and how I fit into it all. In that circle of value, I have taken really powerful lessons from both of my parents.
Perhaps the most important lesson is that you do what is right for your kids.
So, what is right? And how does that fit in with flying elephants?
Last weekend, my ex-husband and I took the kids to Disneyland together.
And you know what?
It was good.
I mean, it was horrible with temper tantrums and fighting and the exhaustion of bringing little kids to Disneyland – but it was good.
The ex and I got along fine.
We were good.
There were no fights. There were not harsh words. There was support. Kindness. And perhaps a new kind of respect for the roles each of us plays in our kids lives.
It was big trip.
It was an important trip.
The lesson I want to teach my kids is that even when the people you trust the most let you down, perhaps in devastating and unfixable ways, there is hope.
Life will never go back to the way it was.
And I am not just “ok” with that, I am deeply happy with that.
And the relationship that imploded will never be the same.
But, what can carry on is an appreciation for family.
An appreciation for being together because we have three kids that deserve to have a life with parents who can not just have 1 meal together every decade, but to have a life where it is OK to love both parents. Where it is OK to be happy with both parents. Where creating memories can be WITH both parents and not just on “mommy days” or “daddy days.”
It’s a gift.
It is a gift that my kids will not have to live to separate lives they feel like they have to keep secret from the other parents…in an act of protection and love.
My parents gave me a gift through their divorce. My ex-husband gave me a gift in creating the opportunity to learn from my parents.
This unconventional ‘family vacation’ to Disneyland made me feel like the last three years of emotional turmoil were worth it. Had I not tumbled and stumbled through life, I might not have realized how important is to make the ‘broken’ family of my kids whole again.
The kids’ dad and I will never get married again. We will never date. We will never be a ‘thing.’
But, I don’t want my kids to be from a Broken Family.
I don’t want my kids to feel like They are Broken because their parents failed grossly at marriage.
And this trip to Disneyland proves they won’t be.
Their parents aren’t married. But, their parents can be united as parents.
And if that ain’t what this whole parenting thing is all about, I’m not quite sure what is.
Had we remained married, we never would have been united.
Had we let our egos and the emotions that drive our egos keep us from sucking it up and planning this trip, we never would have been united.
And I’m not predicting smooth sailing and perfection.
But, now I know we can do it.
It seems, that through my journey of learning not to trust people, I’ve learned I can trust in my kids’ future.
And that, my friends, is how I know pigs are flying somewhere.