When I was going through my divorce I did a lot of reading. One of my best girlfriends was also going through a divorce, so we would trade books, talk about the books, suggest reading different books. It was a great support.
My friend had no kids however,so while we shared much of the same pain, I felt very alone as a Single Mother.
I found a book called “The Courage to be A Single Mother; Becoming Whole Again After Divorce” by Sheila Ellison. It was a great, inspirational read. Just what I needed. I have since passed this book along to another courageous Single Mom in need of inspiration and support.
There was one section in the book that always stayed with me. I actaully wish I still had the book, because I know I would still refer to this section.
It was about Grief.
We often associate grieving with death. But believe you me, there’s a reason why “divorce” is right along “death of a spouse” in the level of stress measures. There’s a ton of grieving that goes with divorce. Except it is supposed to be a silent grieving because divorce sort of implies you had choice and so you shouldn’t be able to grieve over something you chose (which by the way – I seriously beg to differ about the choice thing).
The author writes (at least this was my interpretation and recollection of what she writes) how she was always amazed at how Grief would just come out of no where and take over. She always tried to deny it’s existence, fight it, ignore it, get mad at it, but it still came. She likened it to an old friend knocking at the door on a random morning and insisting to come in for a cup of coffee. She tried ignoring the knock, hiding, running away but Grief would never leave. So finally she realized, she needed to let Grief in whenever she knocked, and invite her in for a cup of coffee. She wasn’t always staying long anyways, so she might as well get it over with.
I loved these words: it was exactly how I felt. And it was a relief to hear someone say “It’s ok to let Grief in”.
Well, last night as I was brushing my teeth before bed, I heard the familiar knocking that I hadn’t heard in a while. But it was a persistant knocking and it took me by surprise. Grief hadn’t visited in a long while. But there she was – with two Refresh Teas from Starbucks (I don’t drink coffee).
I politely told her I was tired and wanted to sleep, but she wasn’t going anywhere. I told her I was feeling fine: I loved my life, I was truly blessed.
She just nodded.
I insisted that my life was too good to complain about anything; that other people had crosses to bear far heavier than mine; that I was a lucky girl. I assured her I saw real tragedy and dealt with real loss on a daily basis when I worked with my clients. My issues were pale in comparison.
I realized she was not leaving, so I just let go and peeled away to the layer of all the grief surrounding my divorced life:
It has been 12 days since I have seen my boys and I miss them. Had I not
been divorced, this woudn’t happen.
I am fed up with working so much when all I really wanted was to stay home and raise my kids (ok – with some part time work too – but not the amount I work). Again, I took 2 years off to be with them when they were little and just when I was arranging my “part time hours”, BAM. Divorce. Need to keep working. Actually, need to work even more.
I’m tired of never having complete control of what WE want to do. Sign the kids up for an activity? Need to check first. Book a weekend away? Not our weekend. Book a vacation? Need to wait until it is our turn to choose first.
I’m tired of dealing with the “bitter ex wife” that my husband has. Every activity where the children participate is overshadowed by the dark cloud. The kids are constantly torn: “Sorry we didn’t sit with you; Mom would be mad”. I’m tired of her scowl at our front door, her money grabbing hands, and the lack of consistency that throws the children for a loop.
I’m sick of the legal system that is set up for the “Dead Beat at Fault Dads” not the fully involved, primary role kind of Dad Rob is. I’m tired of Rob’s reward for working so hard to be handing money over to an ungrateful and falsely entitled side. That his ambition is quickly overshadowed by the cash he would have to hand over to the undeserving.
I’m done with always finding an alternate day to celebrate holidays. For waking up with half-my-famiy-every-second-year Christmas mornings; Chistmas dinners 3 weeks ahead; Thanksgiving dinners late at night after the kids have already had turkey; split day birthdays; half family celebrations for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It sucks.
I’m tired of having to defend the fact that we are a “real family” even though we aren’t all blood.
I’m so very sad that after surgeries, IVF attempts and thousands of dollars we will never have a baby together. Yet everyone around us is having babies.
I’m sad that my boys sometimes cry for their Dad at night or are sometimes too tired to call me to say good night when they are at their Dad’s.
I’m sad that my step kids have to beg to be allowed to stay at our house before school instead of being sent to the sitter’s around the corner on their Mom’s days.
I’m mad that I had to do so much parenting on my own when my kids were young and do not have someone to share the memories of those “moments” with.
I’m annoyed when I have to remind the kids that they need to change their behaviour when they come back home because we do it differently here. “Welcome to our home – have you been here before?” are the words that often cross my lips when I have to remind them for the hundredth time how we act in our house.
So, I let it all out. Then Grief wanted to come to bed with me.
I made Rob move over and make room for her (he’s a great sport at sharing the bed with her – and her only I might add:)
This morning I woke up and looked over to where she had slept. The bed was empty, but the sheets were still warm. I breathed a sigh of relief. She was gone.
Rob leaned over and kissed me good morning and asked if I wanted some Starbuck’s Refresh tea. Funny guy.
I put my rose coloured glasses back on so I could see clearly and made my way to the bathroom.
I am a lucky girl.