I have been battling a cold. And a really tumultuous toddler with a cold. I could write that and leave it there. Anyone with kids- or who’s been sick- would take that as reason enough to be behind in writing. But it isn’t the whole truth. The whole truth is that I have been battling my mind. Fighting to keep my head above water. Struggling to pull my thoughts from the destructive comforts of old habits.
At times, thoughts hemorrhage through my brain. They are uncontrollable and fill even the tiniest fissures of my mind. The dichotomy of my reality is something I find challenging to explain. The thoughts are encompassing- there are everywhere. Yet, they move so rapidly, I cannot seize them. I ferment in the concepts that will not release their hold on me. Simultaneously, I try to arrest the offending speculation. Though I am surrounded by it, it is also elusive. I cannot confine it long enough to study it- to dissect it- to release it. So I write. I write to gain control of my mind. To make sense of the internal monologue. And that’s what I did two weeks ago, searching for relief. I have been running from the words-the feelings– ever since.
I wasn’t going to post this. It felt too dramatic. I often judge myself for my emotions- the thoughts that scroll through my brain. The lens of criticism for which I view myself does not remove the emotions. It doesn’t make them less real. Though I often wish that I could exhale them away. But I made a promise. A promise to be transparent and honest. A pact I made with myself when I began this journey. One I must continue to honor, even when the emotions feel like too much. A category I have only placed my needs and feelings within, never anyone else’s. A perspective I should change. A kindness I need to bestow upon myself. I am a work in progress. What I wrote- though I am proud of the prose- I still struggle to post. But the fact that I am- I am moving, pushing against my instinct- that is progress that should be recognized.
I am no longer shrouded by the intensity of the emotions I wrote about. But their roots still surround my heart. And they probably will for a while. Because though paperwork will be signed eventually, the lasting effects are permanent. My son’s childhood and adult life are forever marked by a decision another soul executed.
It’s a warm, sunny day. The first hint of spring around the corner. I came to the park, to sit on a bench and read. My soul needed to be surrounded by the wonders of nature. The rejuvenating quality of fresh air and water. My house felt oppressive. The emotions swirling in my heart and mind suffocating me. Heartbreak and tears have become too comfortable in my presence. I try to run, but their grasp will not allow me to escape. I relocate in hopes of moving faster than their embrace can tighten.
I thought an escape to my happy place would ease my heart. I thought the book I packed would distract my mind. But said book has been cracked and draped over my lap for over twenty minutes. I can’t calm the chaos long enough to focus on the words printed on the page.
I was not the only one that the warmer temperatures enticed out. Families surround me. Young couples on dates. New parents pushing strollers. Jovial dog owners watching their canines plunge into the lake in search of a treasure. I sit alone on a bench, holding in the tears that threaten to spill down my cheeks. My son with his father. My existence heaved upside down- again.
Eight months ago, when Moose’s father chose to alter our reality, my world shook so violently my nausea was palpable. But after the shock waves subsided, I found my footing again. I found my peace. My strength. I didn’t expect a surge of latent waves to crash into me again. I could never have expected any of this. I think that’s the worst part of this experience- the lack of control. I think that is the hardest part of any heartbreak, your utter absence of control. You cannot make the person stay. You cannot convince them to share your priorities. You cannot adjust the circumstances in any way. There is absolutely nothing you can do.
Divorce is a series of unexpected undertows of emotion. The first- when your partner leaves. When they decide that you no longer add value to their life. Even worse, that you are what is restraining their happiness. Following that, a new undertow- reflection. What was your fault? What signs did you ignore? What betrayals did your partner unearth- if only betrayals of honesty in their words. The latest is one that I didn’t anticipate- the emotions conjured when you must analyze your life in terms of negotiations, checks and balances, dispassionate black and white conditions. My therapist warned me of this very thing. I didn’t take it to heart. I was overconfident. She cautioned me that my peace would be disturbed once the process began. I shrugged her off. I knew what I wanted. Moose’s father and I were finally on the same page-desiring the conclusion to this mess. How could it get emotional if you wanted it? I was woefully unprepared.
Divorce. A word that has been embedded in my vocabulary since my childhood. My parents divorced when I was young. The scars of which I carried into adulthood. They made me fear marriage. Not the commitment of it, but the heartbreak. The demise. I was convinced that I didn’t get a happy ending. That I didn’t get a partner for life. Clearly, I changed my mind. I took the plunge. We both agreed that you never use the “D” word. You don’t throw it around in fights. It isn’t an option. If you don’t keep an escape hatch in the back of your mind, you work through the hard stuff.
I was the only one that held up my end of that agreement.
Now I am steeped in the process. The oscillating emotions of it all. The anger, the heartbreak, the helplessness. Though the emotions feel like a recurrence from months ago, their source is vastly different. When Moose’s father left, I was blindsided. Though it was a fear that I perpetually carried within my being since before our vows were exchanged, the reality of hearing the words spoken aloud suffocated me. My reality distorted that day. The fears that threatened my emotional levy’s cascaded over their edges with ease. The fears of my heart became the realities of my mind.
I am processing the hurts caused by the words inscribed on the lined paper and delivered to me unceremoniously. The characters that were innocent on their own, but permanently severed my history when assembled. I reflect on my marriage-and my part in it- with unbiased eyes. The struggle of concluding my marriage does not negate that contemplation. It adds new layers. My son.
I think it is safe to say that negotiating the terms of child rearing is stressful for anyone disassembling their family. Even those that wish to run away from their lives like their ass is on fire, would not look forward to this process. The letters typed on a page that detail, in no uncertain terms, the time you will lose with your child. The memories you will miss out on. It is particularly difficult when you would have fought to hold your family together with everything that you had- even if it tore you to shreds. It seems, it forces the one that left to finally face the reality of their actions. I hesitate to type that last sentence. I have erased it several times. Because it is purely speculation. I have no idea if my perception is true. But the few words spoken to me, coupled with changes in behaviors, and a lack of urgency in action bring me to that conclusion.
The tsunami of emotion that tumbles within my core immobilizes my fingers and entangles my thoughts. Thoughts dart through my mind and then hide. I cannot coax them out to conclude this essay. I desperately want to wrap it up in a nice platitude or thought. Because if I can do that here, maybe I can do that within my psyche. So here is what I have- this sucks. It isn’t eloquent, but it is the honest truth. Practicing the realities of putting your child first hurts. A lot. More than I ever imagined to be true. Because not only do I have to inflict pain on myself to do what is right, but I can’t show it. This is my life now. This is his life now. And as much as that burns an anger within me that I cannot properly describe with words, he can never know. Because what is best for my son is for his parent to communicate. For them to share in his experiences together- so that he doesn’t have to chose. I am suffocating my heart to do what is right for Moose. I pray that his father is doing the same.