When Adam and I first separated, I heard over and over again, “Kids are resilient. They’ll get over this. It’s really not a big deal.” This is a “truth” that doesn’t feel fully true to me. One day in the beginning months of the separation, I wrote this letter to Adam. This is the raw pain of separation. The parts most of us hide when we are suffering. The parts that are uncomfortable to share. This was the truth of what I was witnessing within myself and within my children.
*Please note that although the separation was mutual, the mutuality of it did not negate the pain and suffering, the anger and blame, and the heavy darkness that accompanied it.
Mornings are the hardest. I wake up before I should, always with a deep emptiness that something so vital is gone and missing. Every morning I’m hit with the reality that I have to suffer again. Each night I realize I survived another day and I have the love of my boys surrounding me. But mornings are different. Mornings are the moments when I dream of drowning. When I will my eyes not to open. And beg my heart to stop its bleeding. Mornings are filled with anger, resentment, hopelessness, tears, and the deepest of heartaches. Mornings are when I wake up to the realization that part of me has died and continues to die. Mornings are pain. This morning I woke up at 430 and dove in to my new best friend, Journal, after a bit of meditation and I just felt that I needed to share this moment.
As much as I desire to shut off my mind, the deep pit of my stomach that is tied in a million little knots, seems to believe that it has a mind of its own. And I feel as though I have no control over my body. 13 pounds lighter because I literally cannot swallow without gagging. This pain is all consuming. Leaving me sleepless, starving and walking through life as though my soul no longer exists. The only time I’m alive is when my boys are with me. And I’m with them. When I am with them, we are what’s left of a family. We are here reassembling our shattered world. Together we are violently sweeping the pieces of our hearts back in to a less fractured mess. We are each other’s healers.
Last night I cradled our youngest who has suffered at the hands of adults too many times in his life. Who is feeling this abandonment as deep as his soul. After speaking with you the second time, he was a limp puddle of wailing tears (recall the sounds of the boys when we buried Shadow and you will know the depth of pain that filled this house [no longer home] curled up in the lap of his mom. I sat there soothing him with empty words because words cannot bring his daddy back. Words cannot keep his mom from leaving him in a few days. Words and hugs cannot make this better. And he knows that. He knows that he is in pain and that he doesn’t like the choice that is once again being made for him. It is NOT the best choice for his life and there is no convincing him of that. I sat there truly wishing that I could take it all away. That I could carry his sadness for him but the only power I have is to share it with him. To hold him in his despair. To keep telling him that he is safe and he is loved. I felt helpless and his pain was so visceral and haunting.
Followed by that I sat with one boy who is completely avoiding and covering his feelings, as the only way he’s ever dealt with any heartache. The only way to bridge the gap with him is to mostly focus on surface things and really spend time trying to dig just a little deeper. When you dig a little deeper you realize he’s scared to death. I slept with him in my bed last night and he thrashed all night with nightmares. Yelling, punching, and screaming. His brain processes his pain at night. His subconscious cannot hide. I finally pulled him toward me and he latched on as though his entire world was falling away from him.
Another boy who drew on the feelings board that he would like the two of us to tell a few more people that he’s gay. A few people in his class. When I tell him that his teacher already knows he starts wailing too. And he wants to become angry with me as though I had something to do with all of this. He wants to hit me and then I hug him and he too melts in to my body begging for me to heal him. I pull him close to my breasts because that’s all I know to do. And I can feel the pain radiating between the two of us. Like hot coals burning through our chests. We are so broken. And we want answers. He falls asleep beside me and I break because I know that you cannot comfort him the way that I can because your bond is not the same. It’s different with him. He has always favored me. And I become scornful that I would be required to be away from him at all. That I will be walking away from him in his darkest hours. How can this be okay?!?
Finally, I sit with the oldest who is doing just what us oldests do. He’s trying to keep his shit together and pretend it doesn’t hurt but then when you ask him to draw out what he’s feeling it’s so clear that he’s lost and in just as much pain as the next person. He’s holding on to the wish that mom and dad are actually on a timeout and this is temporary and I can’t answer that for him because nothing makes sense to me. And I see him pulling away because to be here is too painful, too confusing, too disappointing. He, too, has been left behind before and this place feels scary. His parents are letting him down and trying to cover the pain with happiness and lies that this is all okay. He knows that these are lies. He no longer trusts but he holds on to the hope that they are going to figure it out and his life will return to normal. Until then he seeks and seeks ways to make it better. And every day, many times a day, he asks me when I’m leaving again. And I have to answer as though leaving is a choice I’m making and the truth is I am as voiceless as he.
Here we are, this partial family, sitting at the dinner table talking about when daddy will be here for dinner. And the boys want to make it something super special. They talk about dressing up and serving dinner. They vote on a baked potato bar. They are excited that all 6 of us will be together. And I understand why they want this. Because I, too, find myself fighting back this need to impress. To make myself worthy of their daddy’s love. I, too, find myself wanting the house to be perfect, the dinner to be perfect, me to be smashing and in my best form. I, too, want to believe that this family can be restored and deserves nothing short of restoration. And so I sit there listening to all their wants and letting them take control of Thursday night because I don’t have it in me to do anything but watch them dream. It doesn’t matter what I say or how much I laugh and smile with them….they carry a level of fear. They carry a level of burden. They, too, blame themselves and don’t know how to express this. They don’t know what to do with their pain. They don’t know who they can trust to tell. They don’t know who they can trust. Period. Their lives have been disrupted and that’s that. I know this because I have been them. And I see in them what I know to be true in me.
So for now, I keep telling them all the beautiful things about their daddy. I swallow my pain in their awake hours but I also share with them that I’m sad too. I do all I know to do to help them transition. I play. I listen. I nurse the pain. I hug. I soothe. But on Tuesday morning I will have to hug them goodbye again and I will have to walk away from their lives and I will break all over again. They will break all over again. I will walk away still believing this is not right. This is not okay. This is shit! I feel that this is an injustice to a really beautiful family. We were a beautiful family, Adam, and so I cannot understand this moment in which we find ourselves.
Love and Peace,