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?”
“No,” they said, “It destroys you.”
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.