Moving Forward, One Step at a Time
In the wake of my son's graduation from high school, I have been pondering the last 13 years. When my son was 5 - in fact, right before he started kindergarten - his father told me he was unhappy in our marriage and wanted to leave. I can only describe my feelings as total and complete devastation. The word "divorce" was not actually used. I know now that he could not bring himself to say it - at least, not at first.
As my sweet little guy was starting on his new journey, the beginning of his educational years, his Dad left, and we were not sure if he was coming back to the marriage or not. Once I was finally hit with the reality that I was going to be one of "those people" who were divorced and my son was going to come from a "broken home," the proverbial dam broke. I was totally and completely torn up and could not imagine actually moving forward in any way, shape or form. Let me explain: I did - failure was not in my vocabulary and to me, this was the biggest failure of them all! The collapse of my marriage affected me in every way. Not only was I feeling severe emotional pain, that same pain emanated into the physical - my body ached with my mental anguish. The grief was immense. I was deathly thin. Looking back on all of it, it was terrifying.
Fast forward thirteen years and my little 5-year-old, who I thought - deeply feared, really - was going to come from a "broken home"... was actually reared in two amazing households with two sets of loving parents who were almost always on the same page. Now, this little 5-year-old is a handsome, intelligent and athletic 6'5" 18-year-old young man who recently graduated from high school and soon will be off to study Engineering in college. He is the epitome of healthy, whole, and happy.
After my divorce and after I started to heal, I began to see things differently. It was a long, slow and often painful process. When making decisions as our lives moved forward - which, I must note, is hugely important: we were always moving forward, not stagnant - I tried my best to put a decision-making process in motion that placed the most important person in my life, my son, in the center. While I was not always successful at this, I always gave it everything I had and it has served me well. In turn, I believe with all my heart and soul, it has served those I care about very well, too.
At first, I thought my family was going to get smaller after my divorce - you know, fewer Christmas gifts to buy! Well, reality has a funny way of turning expectations on their heads, and that did not really happen - actually, my family grew! My son's Dad was remarried about one year after we were divorced and about two years after that, he became a Dad, again. My son had a sister. The idea of calling his sister a "half-sister" never entered my mind. This little bundle of joy was never "half" anything - she was and has always been his sister! A few years after that, along came his brother. These new little people enriched our lives in so many ways.
I learned to become friends with my son's Dad again and, however shocking this may be, I became friends with his wife, too. Not simply on a superficial level - true friendships emerged. And, importantly for me and for my son, I found, despite everything that I thought was possible, incredible happiness.