It’s really difficult for me to think about my two boys these days. As a result of my divorce from their father, my ex-husband, we have become estranged. For the last 18 months I have had no communication with either of my teenage sons. My oldest told me I was no longer welcome in his life. Those words felt like bullets going through my heart. My youngest remained connected to me through social media but never responded to my many attempts to message with him and has now blocked me like his brother did. I don’t even know what they look like now. I have not visited with them since August of 2016. Every holiday and major event during the year, I eat my heart out scrolling through social media at my friend’s pictures of their children. This post is my attempt at processing the roller coaster of emotions I go through daily concerning my boys.
I got married at 22 years old and all I wanted to do was become a mother and create my own family, do it my way. My oldest son was my honeymoon baby and was born 10 months after my wedding. I had left my position working at a high end retail department store months before I gave birth. I happily chose to become a stay at home mother. I relished it, thrived at it and thoroughly enjoyed every second of being the one whom was in charge of caring for my children full time. I took parenting classes, attended workshops, read countless books and joined Mommy groups. I ran my household like a well oiled machine. I took different kinds of classes with both of my boys including swimming, music, arts, sports, dancing and gymnastics. I cooked all three meals a day for my family. In addition, I cared for our two dogs and two cats. At one point we added a turtle to that mix.
Looking back on those ten years of my life, one constant thought always plagues my memories. I didn’t appreciate my life at that time. I took for granted all that I had and was not 100% grateful. That is hard to admit to myself let alone write here but it’s the truth. I owned two beautiful homes during those years, went on great vacations and was there for my boys at all times. In 2010 all of that, my life as I knew it was altered dramatically. My mind began to break apart and everyday I would “lose it” a bit more than the day before.
My ex-husband and I were one of the 1.2 million households to lose our home in the housing market crash of 2008. We weathered that loss by moving back to my childhood home and in with my parents. As awesome as it was for me to live in my hometown and have my boys take advantage of all the privledges that I was afforded growing up, it became more and more difficult to be reminded of my own childhood’ s ugly memories. The summer of 2010 my little family moved back to the state we had resided most of my adult life. It was really bittersweet and in hindsight I should of spoken up about what was happening with me mentally.
The last shred of sanity I had was gone completely by late December 2010. I remember that Christmas sitting in my in-laws house and feeling so numb and disconnected from reality, like I was sitting behind glass watching my boys open their presents. In early January I told my ex-husband that I didn’t love him anymore, I felt “crazy” and not myself. I then proceeded to demand that he and my boys move out. My actions were cold and unfeeling, I refused to discuss anything. In reality, I wasn’t able to reason or make sense out of anything during that time. I remember staring out my window, tears streaming down my face, scared to death because I didn’t understand what was happening. It’s like another person took the wheel of my life and was in the driver’s seat; I became an unwilling passenger forced to be a spectator to my own life and not a participant. I now understand, dissociative episodes were emerging.
Over the months following my family’s departure I proceeded to try and fill the deep holes in my heart because of the damage my mind had caused by doing everything to disgusting excess. My exercise routines, eating habits(starving myself) and drinking went into overdrive. I was working three jobs during that time and sleeping no more than 4 hours at night. It was complete hypomania behavior and I sustained it for months. I was desperately trying to do anything to distract my mind and stop my troubling feelings from bubbling up to the surface.
Then came the crash, my suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalzations. I was diagnosed with a slew of acronyms from the DSM-5 and put on an overlong list of medications to combat my ever changing symptoms. It wasn’t until four years later that my long term therapist and I were able to FINALLY get to a proper diagnosis of Complex PTSD. I believe living with my family from 2008-2010 triggered all the deep seeded traumas my mind hadn’t processed properly and became the catalyst for my complete mental breakdown. My boys being forced to witness my mother, their grandmother, scream at me and physically fight their grandfather. I remember my oldest calling out in fear, “grandma stop yelling at my Mommy.” Having my boys become a part of my dysfunctional past was more than I could ultimately bear.
I have read many articles on how people with a history of childhood trauma left untreated, can result in bipolar like behaviors as an adult. Many of these people have also been misdiagnosed which results in delay of healing. Unfortunately, I had little support from loved ones during this time which exacerbated my condition. I did everything I could to see my boys every other weekend. I would push myself to muster the energy it took so I could function as “normally” as possible during our weekends together. In 2013, I made the drastic decision to enter a long term treatment facility many states away from where I was living and from my boys.
I completed that treatment and did everything in my power to stay in communication with my boys. I wrote many letters, we video chatted, and stayed in touch by our social media accounts. In 2016, I attempted to move back to the state they reside in with my ex-husband. It’s also unfortunately the state where so many traumatizing abuses happened to me. Those memories and flashbacks proved too great for me to overcome so I left there again for third time since 2008. It is the hardest decision I ever have had to make. I promised my boys I would try again to make their state my home. In the end, I have had to come to terms with my failure to make that happen. I feel so much guilt, shame, sadness and anger within myself for that decision. I have had to do a lot of soul searching and reckoning just to get out of bed everyday.
I know my boys must feel abandoned and they are justified in their anger. I have tried on numerous occasions to talk with them about their feelings, ask if they have questions for me etc. Unfortunately my ex-husband is not willing to participate in my healing, he is still bitter over our divorce and we haven’t spoken in almost 4 years. It’s most unfortunate for my boys who have to suffer because the adults in their lives can’t work together in their best interest. My ex has succeeded in erasing me from their lives for now. I have tried calling and texting the number I have for him, sending letters and emails…..ANYTHING to get him to talk to me. Last spring, I mustered up the courage to call my ex-mother in-law in an attempt to talk with my boys. I am glad that not only did she answer but I was able to thank her for loving and caring for my boys in my absence. She told me they are doing well and that she gives them my letters. I don’t know the actual address where my boys live so I mail my letters to my -ex in-laws house.
Coming to terms with this situation has taken an arduous effort on my part. The ones who I feel the worst for are the two boys who are growing up without their Mother. I hope someday they will forgive me and reach out to repair our broken relationship. Deep down I do have faith that will happen. I’m proud to say that throughout the separation, divorce and estrangement I have never spoken a bad word about their father to them. I refuse to damage their image of him. I know what it’s like to have a parent’s disdain for the other parent ruin the minds of their children. My mother always spoke negatively about my father, how he wouldn’t want me if they got divorced, how much he didn’t like me even comparing us when I did or said something she didn’t approve of. That forces a child to dislike themselves and look upon those comparisons of character in a shameful way. I refuse to engage in that kind of parent against parent warfare.
Every single day, I spend time thinking about both of my boys. I look at pictures, I cry and I forgive myself for missing out on their childhood. I use the helpful technique of compartmentalizing my thoughts to aid me in exploring those difficult emotions. I also write. This is a poem I hope to share with my boys someday.