Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Thousand Little Deaths

This is not a blog I want to write.

It's about loss and grief and that one little word that no one ever wants to talk about:  divorce.

But I'm gonna write because I'm tired of the thinking about it that surrounds me.  That something must be wrong with you and your family if you're divorced, that it's a taboo topic and seems to make so many people feel so uncomfortable. And that a divorced family is somehow a 'broken' family.  I'm tired of the "I'm sorrys," the weird silences and the awkwardness that everyone but me feels.

In no way am I praising divorce.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  It's the worst experience I've ever been through next to the deaths of my father, grandparents, and young cousin.  It's like a death, though, but no one died.  I guess the marriage died, but because we have kids, we see each other daily, so it almost makes no sense to refer to it as a death.

It's more like a thousand little ones.

And that's what makes it so tough.  It's the simple things.  The goodbye at morning school drop-off knowing dad is picking up the children and I won't see them until tomorrow.   Saturday morning breakfast that they always share with dad but not me.  Sunday night dinner always with me but not with their dad.  Although I must say my ex and I have an 'open-door' policy, keys to each other's homes, and  open arms when it comes to sharing meals or coming to see the kids any day, any hour.

It's the fact that my last name is different now than theirs.  When I fill out forms, I have to check 'divorced' and fill out two addresses for two parents in two different homes.  It's not knowing who will be my emergency contact and who to write as the kids' emergency contact:  me or him?  It's the toys and clothes that stay at my house and those that stay at his house.  The artwork they bring home from school - does it stay with mom or stay with dad?

I wish this had never happened.  And we fought like hell to stay together.  But staying together was hurting everyone, including the children.  The reasons it happened are between me and my ex-husband and, frankly, are no one else's business despite the people who rudely and hurtfully made it their business by gossiping, spreading rumor, and relentlessly sticking their nose in where it doesn't belong.

The fact is, half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent's marriage.  So what is normal?  A traditional family with mom and dad in the same house?  Or is it the other way around?  I don't really care what normal is.  But I do care that my children are happy and healthy.  That I am happy and healthy.  That my ex is happy and healthy.  He is now a dear friend to me, and for that, I am grateful.  We have spent the better part of two years transforming a failed marriage into a friendship with the main goal of raising our two beautiful children.  They are much healthier and so are we.  This is a good thing, right?

But then one of the little deaths rips my heart out.  My daughter kissing me on the cheek saying "I'll miss you this weekend mommy, and I'll see you Sunday." The mail I receive addressed to 'Mrs. Dawn Jones.' (and am I 'Miss' now or 'Ms.'?? - oh the details!)

I keep thinking that these thousand little deaths must be preparing me for something bigger.  The day they drive off alone for the first time at age 16, the day they leave for college, the day they no longer need me in the way they do now. But I'm not sure it will ever be easy.  I once read a beautiful quote that goes something like "don't pray for an easy life, pray to be a stronger person."

So that's what I'm doing.  Fighting daily to see the blessings, which are constant.  With a knowing in my heart that this is how it is supposed to be for me, for my family (and yes, we are still a family) and learning to live it with grace and in peace rather than with grief and sadness.

((Now.  I know I'm not alone out there.  So share with me and let's find a way to support each other!))