Is it worse than a death?
How can you know for sure unless you actually have lived through both a divorce and the death of a spouse?
But, I would imagine that, at least in some ways, the pain of divorce definitely outweighs that of a death.
For lots of reasons.
For starters, there are the kids. And their pain. And the knowledge that they are growing up with far less than what they deserve.
I was so lucky to have a mother and father whose world centered around their daughter.
I never had a doubt that I was the most important thing in their lives.
That feeling carried with it a great sense of responsibility. I did not want to disappoint. I wanted to please. I didn't take risks because I knew, I just knew, that my parents' lives would never be the same if they lost me.
So, how in the world will I know the best way to deal with my children's pain? How can I begin to imagine what my daughter feels, and will continue to feel, as she processes this loss? For lack of a better word, it just sucks. But, at least she can talk to me, and she can ask questions. I can try to explain. I can tell her how she and her brother are the most important things in my life. And I can show her, through my actions, that it was never my choice for her to be away from me, not for a single day.
My son, who has autism and is nonverbal, poses a whole different set of issues. When he leaves to see his dad, I can't even explain to him how long it will be before he sees me again. It kills me to think that he actually might wonder if Mama had something going on that was more important than being with him.
Because nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is more important to me than being there for my children.
There also are, in so many cases, the parents. The parents of the person struggling to rebuild a new life, the grandparents of the children in the middle.
And my parents are taking my divorce very, very hard.
My father introduced me to my soon-to-be-ex. He had been his college professor, his basketball partner.
He wanted me to meet this man because he hoped we would hit it off.
He loved him like a son.
Seventeen years, and two kids later .............. oh, will my dear father, the man with the purest of hearts, ever stop feeling guilty?
And my mom, oh, how could I ever describe her sense of loss? Her entire life has been devoted to doing for others. And here she is, in my home, hugging my son, reading books to my daughter, starting the laundry almost before we have a chance to get any clothes dirty.
She worries about my children just as much as I. And, in some ways, she probably worries more -- because she had more than her share of hurt as a child.
And, of course, there is the personal pain of divorce.
It, too, sucks.
And, yet, I .... am...... OK.
I have come to realize that there is life after divorce.
A lot of life, if you are lucky.
There are so many people bringing smiles and laughter into my life.
There are people, truly wonderful people, who make me feel happy, who make me feel good.
My happiness did not at all depend on the person I married.
Not at all.
Yes, my heart was broken. But it is still there. Every single piece.
I am in such a different place now than I was, say, 6 or 7 months ago. For the longest time, I struggled with how to get my marriage back. I panicked about how I could make it as a single parent.
I was wrapped up in fear.
Today, I realize that my happiness is just as important as my children's.
And I know that my heart is just as big as it was 17 years ago.
I know that there are so many opportunities for me ... opportunities for what truly matters... laughter, friendship, closeness, love.
I am picking up the pieces, of my life and of my heart.
Interestingly enough, today, I am much more worried about the people closest to me and how they are dealing with the dissolution of my marriage.
I see the anger in my daughter. She has a lot of great things going on in her life, opportunities and experiences that many children do not have. But she knows something is not right. She feels anger.
And justifiably so.
I see regression in my son. I worry about him so much when he is away from me. I wish there was some way to let him know, to let him know that I am thinking of him constantly.
And I worry so much about my parents. How I wish I could ease their fears.
How I wish I could do for their broken hearts what the wonderful people in my life have done for mine.
Parents, children ... the worries never end. It is a wonder the pets ever get fed.
I will do my best for all of them. I will count on their love and try my best to send it back, and to send with it the certainty that I am OK. I will seek strength from my friends, all the wonderful friends who care about me, and hope that my children and parents see that I am not going to fall to my knees. Not again.
My heart is so much stronger than it was several months ago. And I have discovered that I am tough enough to survive the unthinkable. How I wish I could share that, how I wish I could give that same feeling, to the people who matter most.