Tag Archives: separation

The Pain of Separation

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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.

Dear, Adam,

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.  
IMG_2047Last 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.  AIMG_2045 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?!?
IMG_2048Finally, 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,

Amy

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Breakdowns for Breakthroughs

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In 2014 I’m continuing the trend of living out loud.  This is by far the most difficult topic I have ever written about and, yet, I feel it is of vital importance to continue down the road of being vulnerable and human.  This first month of January, I’m sharing with you a little slice of me.

I’m at a stage in life where marriages are separating all around me.  Failing due to infidelities, addictions, lack of connections, too much stress, unkindness, and simple growing aparts.

I’ve learned to never judge a person’s marriage.  To never judge why some stay in relationships that seem toxic and never judging why some leave.  I don’t judge people who choose to have open marriages, monogamish marriages, polyamorous marriages, sexless marriages, intimate marriages, surface marriages, or any other form of committed coupledom.  I think it takes great strength to travel any road of commitment no matter how that commitment is defined.

I’ve always prided myself on my marriage.  It’s one of the things I have done best in life.  It’s the relationship that I have put above all others.  I have believed that if I could keep my marriage happy then my boys would have a stable and happy life.  Something I always longed for as a child.  I have known that the odds were stacked against us.  We married too young, we have special needs children, we have multiples, we have lost our financial stability, we’ve experienced a large amount of moves this past year, we left our religion, etc etc.  Yes, the odds are not in our favor and never have been.  No matter, I’m cut out for challenges.  Adam is too.  I didn’t worry about my marriage because I knew we were made for each other.  I knew that we have always been passionate about one another and that we could laugh, even in the face of adversity.  We had always been there for the other and there would not be a trial large enough to tear down the bond we so solidly built.

And then…

New Year’s Eve 2013 I heard the words I never truly imagined would leave the lips of my husband.

I want a separation or divorce.  This relationship is not working for me.

As horrible as it is to admit, my entire world crumbled.  The immediate realization that I had done everything I could to love this man and keep my family together and still I was not enough.  The gut punch knowledge that I will at best see my boys part-time.  The fear of how I will support myself.  I have invested everything in to his career.  He can make money.  I cannot.  The raging jealousy that he will move on and I will have to deal with new women.  New lovers.  Eventually another mom to my boys.  The loneliness in knowing that my support system is thousands of miles away.  I will suffer alone.  The earth literally began to crumble and swallow me up.  A pain like no pain I’ve ever experienced took an instant hold.  Anger set in.   How could he do this to me?  To us?  It was almost worse that he was not leaving for another woman.  No, I simply was just not right for him anymore.  Pain.

But in all honesty, I had been working up the courage to talk with him about divorcing as well.  I had just texted a friend a few hours prior to this and told her that all I could think about was divorce and that I was tired of suffering.  A few weeks prior to that I had chatted with another friend about my fear of leaving but the desire to get out of this toxicity.  Adam had only said the words that I was too scared to say myself.  He was brave enough to take the steps to end his suffering.  I was not.

I don’t know where we took a misstep.  Where we lost our way.  Or if we even did. I know that once we left religion, our marriage was in the midst of being redefined and that negotiation was often tragic, volatile, and drenched in fear.  I know that life was brutal this past year and so much change and suffering occurred.   I know that I was fighting to keep my family together and kept hoping that Adam would come back to me once he surfaced from his pain.  Sadly, he didn’t.  He tried.  But Adam was a new person.  And I didn’t fit in his new identity.  Pain.

I didn’t come back the same either.  And Adam didn’t fit in my new identity either.  Pain.

I don’t want my marriage to end.  I can’t even begin to imagine sitting my boys down and telling them that mom and dad are no longer going to be living in the same house.  It will break their hearts and play a role in defining who they become and what baggage they will carry into adulthood. They will cry and blame themselves.  They will experience deep heartache and they too have suffered enough this year.  Now, once more, they will suffer at the hands of me and Adam.  Pain.

So much pain that my body can no longer tolerate it.  My stomach begins to empty itself and will continue to do so for the next 24 hours.  I cannot digest the words separation, divorce, boys part-time, our marriage is not working. I cannot digest the idea of losing 20 years of a beautiful love.  I cannot digest this future.  Pain.

We spent most of NYE and in to New Year’s Day discussing strategies for best moving forward.  What’s best for the boys?  What’s best for us?  Where are we going to live?  How is this going to work?  What’s missing in our marriage?  What’s not working?  What is working?  Why are we giving up when there’s far more positive than negative?

Surprisingly, we land where neither of us expect to land.  We land on this idea that we can just start over with each other.  Begin again as new people.  People without history.  Clean slates.  I don’t know if this is possible but I’m willing to give just about anything a solid try.  Because I love Adam.  Because I love my family.  I am IN love with Adam.  I love my family of 6 and our nights all snuggled up watching a movie, dinners around the dining table, or the 6 of us crammed in our RV experiencing life.  I enjoy being here togetherAll of us.

So we agree.  Starting over makes the most sense for now.  There’s too much good.  The truth is, I don’t know Adam anymore.  And he does not know me.  I want to know him.  I want him to know me.  I have a feeling we’d really like each other.  Sadly, our judgements of each other have clouded our vision and amplified our triggered reactions.  We have lost sight of ourselves and our partner.

We are starting at square one (as much as that is possible).  Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a mom to four beautiful boys.  I love the outdoors.  I want to own a farm.  I love big and give my all.  I’m a vet tech and freelance writer.  I’m a skeptic.  I am an amateur marathon runner.  I love to travel.  I am a professional nap taker.  I like to receive gifts, love notes, and romance.  I love clothes, tattoos, and body jewelry.  I’m an iced tea junkie.  But most of all, I’m a mom and I want a partner.
You know, all that first date kind of getting to know each other.  That’s where we are starting.  No assumptions.  Instead an unlearning.  An awareness.  An awakening to what has been standing right beside us this entire time and we have missed because our box of relational negativity was maxed out.

Here we are a little over two weeks in to this experiment of starting over and I have to admit that I have a bit of hope.

Losing Adam was my worst fear and I did everything in my control to keep him from ever wanting to leave and all that controlling only drove him away.  Smothered him.  I learned that I cannot control anything other than myself.  Sometimes even that is beyond my capability.  I’ve learned that nothing can be promised for eternity.  I’ve learned that change is inevitable.  I can control nothing. Nothing.  I’ve been humbled and seen the errors of my ways.  I have not been the perfect wife I imagined myself to be.  I do have areas to work on.  One of those is letting go of control.  Control has gained me nothing and it’s time to let it go.  I’ve lost Adam once now and so it’s easier to free him.  I may not agree with all his choices or opinions and that’s completely okay.  I am now in the midst of drawing up my boundaries and deal breakers for this new relationship.  Something I was too scared to do before.  I’ve turned my focus from Adam to me.  He’s not here to meet my needs and it’s unfair to expect him to.  And vice versa.  I am not enough for him and that’s okay.
We are redefining our roles.  Resetting expectations.  Voicing our opinions instead of burying them.  Living with complete integrity.  We are building a home that is full of love and acceptance.  It’s a process.  A process that requires extensive amounts of grace and patience.  Both of which I’m willing to give.  To myself.  To Adam.  To the relationship.

Adam has been a gift to me and to my boys.  He has loved me and remained faithful to me for 20 years.  He has encouraged me to grow and to question.  He has challenged me in areas that I would have preferred to remain stagnant.  He has been my friend.  My confidant.  My lover.

He has been the best father my boys could ever ask for.  He is a dad above all other dads.  Truly.

Is he flawed?  Absolutely.  But not in a way that requires me to move on.

Things are not perfect.  They are at times overwhelmingly challenging but I believe this marriage and this family is worth the effort.

In this moment, I feel hopeful.  I don’t know if we’ll have a fairy tale ending.  But for the first time, I’m not worried about tomorrow.  I’ve let go of the past.  I’m living this moment.  And this moment is my happily ever after.