Towards the end of 2013 I told my (ex) husband that I wanted a divorce. We didn’t have a screaming and shouting marriage, there was no abuse or any of the hectic stuff going on. Some friends were shocked, others weren’t. It was the ones who saw us more often that were not that surprised. Why? What happened? Can’t you give it another shot? But everything seemed so great between you two!? These were the questions I was going to hear over and over and over and over and over and over again over the following months. I experienced judgement from some friends and even family members.
Granted, my family were very upset, which is completely understandable. He had been part of the family for 13 years. I was asked why I didn’t tell anyone we were having marital issues previously. This was something that happened gradually over time. This is not the kind of decision you make overnight. It took me a good deal of time to come to this decision as I had to consider how it would affect everyone, especially our son.
I explained as best I could to people what had led us to the place we found ourselves in, but it seemed that most didn’t want to hear to understand…how could they, it wasn’t them in the situation.
I believe our marriage broke down slowly over the last few years. We didn’t really work on things and took for granted that we had a good relationship. We both became complacent and started leading our own lives most of the time. Neither of us were fulfilling each others’ emotional needs anymore. Communication was scarce and we were both harbouring resentment and bitterness, it showed in the way we spoke to each other. We had grown apart in different directions. I am not going to get into nitty gritty of the finer details of it because that is nobody’s business. The energy in the house was affecting our son (who was 2 at the time). A little boy who had always been healthy and had never been on an antibiotic in his life…all of a sudden got a cough that lasted for an entire month. It came and went and came back again and then overnight was hit with Bronchial Pneumonia, Tonsilitis and double ear infection and had to be hospitalised. He was definitely taking on his parents’ stuff and it was affecting him emotionally, mentally and physically.
I did not feel a romantic connection anymore and it had been the case for a while…the only thing is that I hadn’t figured it all out because you get yourself into a comfort zone. You don’t realise how uncomfortable that comfort zone can be until you start asking yourself questions and looking at it from a different perspective.
Yes, someone else came into my life and made me question that. Yes, there was a very close emotional connection that I could not ignore. He also made me realise that I could not stay in a relationship if my heart was not truly in it anymore. He was not the reason my heart wasn’t in it anymore, but he was the catalyst that made me take a step towards what was better for me and my higher purpose. I could not just stay for the sake of my child, because that is actually worse for him in the long run.
I had quite a few people who completely supported me in the decision and understood where I was at. I had some who did not. That was inevitable. I got backlash from my family. All I needed was support and love. It brought up a lot of emotion in me and I just wanted to tell people to where to get off! It was stressful!
So, I moved out a month after I broke the news to him. The energy in the house was less than desirable. We have 50/50 custody and implemented the parenting plan that was agreed upon immediately. It was a bit challenging in the beginning because my ex was going through the grieving process (obviously). Naturally he was hurt and upset about it.
Our son seemed to adjust quite well to the arrangement and for awhile things seemed to be going well. My ex and I are on really good terms now and get along well. We have both been committed to making the transition as easy as we can for the sake of our precious son. I am so completely grateful that I have an ex who is devoted 100% to his son and takes his responsibility as a father seriously.
It was 7 months post me moving out that the emotions from the divorce hit me. I didn’t expect that I would go through the grieving process! It was my decision, so surely it wouldn’t happen to me. Well, it did and for 3 months I was a bit of an emotional train wreck. You doubt yourself and second guess every single decision you have made (even though you know it was the right decision…or was it?). Anyway, I got through that phase thank goodness.
I had quite a few female friends on Facebook asking for advice, as they were also not happy and were wanting to leave their marriages. I told them all the same thing: “I cannot give you advice because I am not you and I am not in your relationship.” I also told them that only they know what they should do deep down.
Our son started losing interest in school. He was fine at home but wasn’t interested in participating at school. We met with the school principal and teacher and we all came to a mutual agreement of how we would support our son though this time of change. He needed reassurance that he is loved, appreciated, important and safe. They suggested that he be with one parent all week so that there is continuity and stability for him, but it posed a challenge for us. We started implementing what was discussed at school and things seemed to slowly but surely start improving. He would sometimes cry for Daddy when he was dropped off or picked up by me after Dad’s week-end with him. It was manageable. It has been quite a task to know when to discipline and when to give love, when they are just being a toddler or when they are acting out feelings and emotions from the actual separation.
One Sunday, when my ex dropped our son off after 4 nights with him, he threw one of the biggest tamtrums I have ever encountered and screamed non-stop for about 30 minutes. The rage and anger were scary. I tried my best to not take it personally, but when your child rejects you and tells you they don’t love you and want to live with the other parent, it hurts to the core. It is soul destroying. I know that he doesn’t mean it. He is a happy child and we have so much fun together and I know that he loves me, but nothing can prepare you for that.
The whole process has been an emotional roller-coaster and sometimes you want to just get off, but you realise that it isn’t an option.
I have come to the following conclusions during this whole process:
1. Don’t assume ANYTHING, especially when it comes to a child.
2. Even though I made the choice to leave, it has not been easy and it is ok for me to feel what I have been feeling.
3. People will judge you regardless and you will lose friends in the process. It can be lonely at times.
4. You will ask yourself “what if” for quite some time.
5. You cannot give your child too much love, ever!
6. Kids know more than we think they do! They feel everything and at some level they can understand everything.
7. I need to get rid of the guilt and stop blaming myself for what my son or other people have experienced throughout this. Yes, I am responsible for this outcome, but I am not to blame for the way others feel. We all have our part in this. (This is the hardest one for me to accept).
8. As challenging as things can be at times, I have to move forward and just be the best mother I can be.
9. My son will be angry and frustrated and upset with me, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me.
It has now been two years since the divorce was finalised and I still have days of doubt. My son is happy and healthy but still has his moments with me after coming back from a weekend with Dad. I have learnt to give him space but also let him know that I love him and I will always be there for him and he can come to me in his own time when he is ready.
I am currently single and have realised that I am not ready for a serious relationship. I have learnt over the past year that I need to work myself and my own insecurities before I will be ready to love on that level again. I also do not want to take any baggage from the past into another relationship. I have not valued or loved ME enough, and until I learn to do that, the same lessons will keep repeating themselves over and over until I do. It has not been an easy road, but one that I chose and I believe that everything happens as it is meant to.
The most significant thing that I have learnt recently is this: The More You Become, The More You Attract! So be the person you want someone else to be and you have no choice but to attract that person into your life.
The best piece of advice I can give to people in a relationship or marriage is this: GROW TOGETHER, otherwise you will be growing apart!