Over the years of life, the one thing I continue to find is that I am often incorrect about what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’. Generally, given time and faith, the truth will emerge, but generally it’s difficult to be honest and people will hang on to what they believe, spread rumors as fact and keep narratives alive about someone’s character, long after they have outgrown something.
As a young mother of 5 in the middle of the 90’s, I finally decided to leave my marriage. There wasn’t a specific ‘reason’ to leave, but years of broken promises kept pointing me towards the door to divorce. Namely, my marriage suffered from a lack of truth and both of us were guilty of it.
What happened next was hard. In my quest for freedom, I engaged in incredible amounts of magical thinking, side stepped compassion towards my former husband’s feelings, bumped up against tremendous gossip about me and my lifestyle and struggled to keep my children safe from all the adult missteps and childish behavior.
It was a mess and in looking back, I was responsible. Sure, my kids’ dad had a part, but I found what he did or didn’t do made no difference in the long run. My life was up to me, so the sooner I took responsibility, the sooner I would have peace.
This was a hard won perspective to cultivate.
The dream of ‘happily ever after’ once I married my husband, was destroyed less than 6 months into our relationship. With a broken heart, I slogged through and kept re-emerging again & again, into our slowly eroding relationship.
In truth, that was the beginning of the end for me, as the faith and trust in our love totally dissolved. We had a messed up relationship based on expectation, not truth. And we did genuinely love each other… madly, but we lost trust.
Without mutual respect and an honoring of our commitments to each other, all we were left with were empty promises and assumptions neither of us could satisfy for the other.
My method for handling the divorce was terrible, but I didn’t have a play book for this. My own parents’ divorce was an exercise in abandonment by my father, who fell in love with my coach and left my mother and all his kids without a backward glance. Then he proceeded to blame my mother, make her 100% responsible and gave her nothing to help raise their 5 daughters. That was what I’d lived through and my response to my own divorce was initially informed by my history.
Subsequently and over time, the only way I could rise up from the flames of my life was through admitting to myself where I was ‘wrong’ and take full responsibility for my life. When it no longer mattered what ‘he did’ or ‘what he said’, I reclaimed something profound. Personal agency.
One of my kids is going through a divorce, with all the attendant struggles divorce brings. He made a slew of bad choices while married and has the result of those choices to sort out now. Although I have a great deal of love for his former wife, I have chosen to remain 100% available to my son, to help him recover, while maintaining my availability and love towards her.
Through all these months, I have watched people within the family, old friends and many other members of the extended community, persist in placing the responsibility for the end of this marriage squarely my son’s shoulders.
If the entire community involved were focused on healing, not blame, how would all this shake down? Would both my son and his children’s mother heal and recover? Would the children be embraced with consistency at every turn? Would the community experience healing?
What has occurred, instead, is a great deal of ‘new age’ magical thinking, blame and deflection, tons of secrets and lies; all of which have the opposite effect. The fall out for this, is peace for the little ones. The offspring of this union.
My granddaughter how she feels about all this and had tears in her eyes, as she talked about her Papa and how people treat him. People she loves.
After a moment of disbelief, I realized my job was to be myself — and no one else, so I listened and comforted her. Not by making people ‘wrong’ but encouraging her to continue to love everyone anyway. My prayer is she knows it’s key for her to recognize that what feels best to her, is best for her.
In truth, I was horrified and my heart ached for my son.
Yes, they both made a ton of mistakes, but the public crucifixion of my son is so typical and so hurtful. Are we going to limit each other entirely? Is it reasonable to allow everyone a chance to grow and heal and move forward with a new form to relationships with love intact? In this scenario, it appears we must have a villain and a victim.
In truth, my son is healing. He is learning where he stepped ‘wrong’ and is moving into better ways of being. He knows this is for his own good & why he is doing this.
No one is blamed and everyone is allowed the space to grow.
As in my own experience, I know both of them have a part in the end of their marriage and both have changes to make. For now, I have to continue to encourage my child to be responsible.
In divorce, no matter who did what to the other, none of it is important. What’s important is to keep the children’s needs in focus. Ultimately, I had to suck it up and find the love to care enough for my kids’ father, to put aside all the things he did that hurt me. Deep down, I had to remember that he was my children’s father and both of us being in their lives was important. For them.
Time is often the best medicine, while accountability the balm for healing. We learn, hopefully, how to be better in life. Yet, I see so many humans avoid growth to remain ‘right’.
In this life, I’ve learned that being ‘wrong’ and owning it, has been far more expansive.