head of the class

Part of the divorce (yeah, that’s happening) proceedings in Florida involve this mandated parenting class called Parenting Through Divorce and Separation (or something). “Parenting class” is kind of a misnomer though, and it led me to snarkily complain about having to do it to basically anyone who would listen to me. I know how to parent! I’m a single mom now! I write parenting articles! I got this shit, man!

Except the class was really more of a support group with a side of therapy and it started out by just acknowledging how much divorce sucks for everyone ever and I was like oh, yep. Yes, it does. Chinhands. Tell me more.

The class was four hours long and I was never bored. Some of the information didn’t pertain to me (we’re being non-fighty, peaceful adults mediating our way through a parenting plan and settlement so there are no concerns of screaming or fighting in front of the kids or being unable to agree or talk), but for the most part it was all new, interesting, helpful information.

I learned that:

  • 56% of Florida marriages end in divorce
  • Half end in divorce within five years
  • 80% of divorced women remarry
  • It takes 2-3 years for divorced parents and their children to process and grieve after divorce
  • The kids aren’t as okay as they’re acting
  • It all just sucks a bag of dicks for a long while and there’s no way around that

I didn’t come out of the class with strategies as much as an awareness that this is a huge, long process and that I need to pay close attention to my kids and love the crap out of them. I feel like if there’s anything I’m pretty good at, it’s loving the crap out of these boys. But it doesn’t make me feel any less hollow and hurty that they’re in pain, that they’re victims of divorce. They’ll spend the rest of their lives being children of divorce. I am not a child of divorce, but many of my friends were, are, always will be.

This isn’t something I anticipated. It isn’t something that I wanted. But it is my life.

My thoughts are disjointed.

Today a friend told me, “You seem a lot happier.”

For a while I felt really guilty admitting that it’s true. Most of the time? I am happier. I’m hurting and grieving and unhappy about a lot of things but the core of me, my soul? It’s unburdened. I’m more emotionally available to my children, to my friends. I’m learning how to be a whole human being, a single adult. I haven’t been single as an adult. I entered a serious relationship at barely 18 and I’ve been in a serious relationship for 14 years since. I’m newborn grownup.

I’m okay, and then I’m not okay, and then I’m okay again, and then I’m not okay. And that’s okay.

One of the instructors drew a triangle and wrote acceptance inside of it. What keeps you from getting to acceptance? Blame, rejection, guilt. Whether you’re the “dumper or the dumpee,” they said, you’re going to get tripped up by this triangle of fail for a while. “Who is your anger hurting?,” they asked. “Is it getting back at the person who hurt you?”

Oh.

“No,” they said, “It destroys you.”

Oh.

It’s not a magic fix for all of my hurt, but man does it help to recognize that after a while, all the anger I wear like prickly armor is only hurting me. It’s keeping me from becoming whole again, for being a healthy newborn grownup. It isn’t hurting him, and in the end I don’t even want to hurt him. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to hurt my kids. I want the hurt to stop.

I’m a wobbly circle that used to be attached to another wobbly circle. I’m slowly filling out, becoming round and solid, rolling with the punches. I’m a phoenix rising from the flames. I’m a new pair of jeans that make my butt look good. I’m sprawled out on the bed, taking up every inch. I’m crying at the grocery store. I’m watching House Hunters all the time. I’m scared. I’m confident. I’m dragging a stroller onto a tram at Busch Gardens by myself. I’m hanging up my Christmas lights and dragging the tree to the curb. I’m staying up late with my kids listening to their stories. I’m not alone at all. I’m a cliche with the music turned up loud and my voice learning not to waver. And the hurt will stop, not smoothly, but in a series of false starts and speed bumps and terrifying drops and murky echoes and then, and then.

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Comments

  1. You’re brave and smart and funny and I admire you so. You’re a great mom, and woman, and person.

  2. Beautifully written.

  3. Really beautiful post. Wishing you peace and that continued zest for life while on your journey.

  4. You’re beautiful and so are your words. I’m happy you’re getting to where you need to be to make yourself the best you.

  5. The fact that you are recognizing that your kids will have to go through their own processing shows that you will do right by them. Not always, of course, because when do we parents ever do everything right all the time?! But most of the time. And that’s hugely important. When my parents split up, my mom (the initiator of the split) handled it so, so poorly, in many ways, but when I recall most frequently is how dismissive she was of my and my sister’s feelings about it. “They’re kids, they’ll be fine!” was heard a lot. And I hated that. So, now that I’ve made this about me, I’ll return to applauding you for your approach to your kids’ feelings on this. Well done.

  6. One of the things my daughter’s therapist (yeah, that happened too) said was that the grieving process is sort of like a train passing in front of you. You think it’s almost over, but oh hey, look at that, there are still more cars coming down the tracks. But it does, eventually, end, and then you can move on. The problem is that you don’t really know when that’s going to happen.

    Sometimes I wonder how long I’m going to be sitting at this railroad crossing. But I know it’s not forever.

    All that to say: XOXO to you.

  7. roxy.cape says:

    Beautifully written. Divorce is difficult no matter what the familial situation is but I can only imagine how much more taxing it can be to have to throw on the happy face for your kids—I didn’t have kids in the situation and I still had a hard time keeping my shit together in public, still do sometimes. Just know it will get better eventually and you’ll find the beauty in this journey of discovery. The year of my divorce was one of the best, if not the best, years of my entire life as I rediscovered who I was and who I wanted to be after five years of putting my soul on hold. One foot in front of the other…

  8. The best advice a really wise person told me once and that when something sucks, it is okay to say, hey, THIS SUCKS, and grieve through it. You know what, this sucks, it really, really sucks, and you can say it out loud. I’m sorry.

  9. I wish we had that here. I could’ve benefitted from it. Maybe realized sooner that carrying the hurt and anger was only affecting me. Took a long time to make that connection. I’m glad you had that experience. And? Thank you for sharing it. Now go watch that movie! XO

  10. Lexi La Primera says:

    I wish they had this in California. That would have made things so much better for me and my girls when my ex and I divorced. I was a total wreck for a long time.

  11. Just sending a hug, darlin’. Wonderfully written & I’m sure you’ll be “filled out” a little more each day.

  12. I wish my parents had taken a course like this… You’re a beautiful writer and great Mom.

  13. lablover22 says:

    Your ability to express your experiences and feelings is beautiful! Thank you for sharing what you are going through. I love your description of being a “wobbly circle”. I think we can all identify with this feeling at some point in our lives. What stands out to me most, however, is in your final paragraph you list all the things you are DOING- some easy, some difficult. But in the end, you are DOING. You are LIVING. You are MOVING forward. These verbs alone will take you a long way. As a loyal reader I am eager to hear more about your experiences and see the amazing place you are headed.
    Vicky
    http://www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com

  14. You are strong and beautiful and perfect. You know who you are and you aren’t defined by what has left you. You understand that embracing the anger and sorrow of this happening in your life is just as important as trying to find the joy in it, and even though this sort of change wasn’t wanted and it wasn’t expected, I know you’re doing better with it day by day. Love you always, gurl <3

  15. MommyNamedApril says:

    oh, it’s been too long since i stopped in. had no idea, i’m so sorry. glad the class was helpful, or at least insightful. xo

  16. Damn, im just sitting here admiring your way with words. Im sorry about it all, but you’ll pull throughb on your own time. Hugs

  17. Awww, lovely. *HUGS* Very sorry to hear you are going through The Suck. Very glad that you’re getting happier, moving forward, growing into adulthood. Your words are great.

  18. It’s been nearly three years now since my marriage went the way of divorce. I can say that sometime around a year ago, my daughter and I fell into a peace that felt like we were finally standing our own ground and moving on in a healthy way. It sucked pretty hard for a while, and it took quite a bit for me to internalize my feelings. It seemed like a lot of feeling broken for a long time. But now I feel whole, powerful, and amazing. I have great faith in your ability to move through this. Not that you needed my faith, but still. It’s there.

  19. If anyone can make it through this intact, it’s you. Lots of love to you and your boys.

  20. Grumble Girl says:

    Sending love and hugs your way, my friend. Every day is a new one… xoxox

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