Yesterday I gathered some friends together at a local bar. A year prior, I had finally finished the long and difficult journey of getting divorced, made even more difficult as I handled all the paperwork myself since we couldn’t afford to involve lawyers. I just wanted the papers to be right, for it to be over, for them to stamp the documents and say ok, you’re free to move about the cabin we call life.
My anxiety level was through the roof that day, and the flood of tears as I left the courthouse with my now-former husband were as much relief that I had gotten everything right as they were tears for any pain we had both caused each other. I wished him nothing but the best, and still do, and wanted to try to start moving forward.
But it was out of a deep well that took time to climb out of. I truly could not have done it without the love and support of my friends. The loss of half of my son’s life, as I went to seeing him only every other week instead of waking him up every day in his bed was crushing, and yet I firmly believed that having higher quality days with him when we were both not dealing with the distress and strife that plagued my household would trump the quantity of days total. While that journey is always ongoing, a year out, I believe I was right. My son is thriving, his parents both love him, and have figured out a way to parent together while staying out of each other’s lives as much as possible.
I remember the judge commending me on the paperwork and saying how we clearly really just wanted what was best for our son and not to get back at each other in any way, and that was what would truly serve the child the rest of his childhood, and the rest of his life. I was proud while also feeling like a failure at the same time, which is hard.
When I withdraw, it can be a dangerous and frightening thing. I am an extremely social person and thrive among other people, so when I cut them off or am alone with my pain, it’s damaging. My friends from out of town pushed me to lean on my local support time and time again. Call someone. Make somebody come over. Go out. Do that thing, attend this other thing. Don’t sit home alone on those weeks when you can’t actively and directly be a Mom, go back out and discover who you are now – a combination of who I once was, but who I have grown to be. And, haltingly, I did.
So I wanted to mark the day yesterday, and bring together some of those people who make up my wonderful patchwork quilt of support. Who bring me laughter, tears, joy, intense discussion, thoughtful debate, kisses, hugs, and a shared understand and appreciation of the fact that life is short and can be difficult, and you need your network sometimes to be able to help you get through the hard parts. I’m truly thankful for all of them. I hope that in some way I give back to them as well, make their lives richer and better, give them laughter and thoughtful support, encouragement. And most of all, mutual acceptance, which is so important to me. These people – those who were there in person and those who couldn’t make it but were there in spirit – accept me with all my flaws, don’t see me as less of a mother because I don’t see my son every day, don’t see me as a failure or damaged goods because I got divorced.
I am lucky. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, but I am indeed so, so lucky.