I love autumn. Pumpkin, cloves, campfires, and the smell of hay sate my aromatherapy needs. I can walk angst free through the forest without reptile-induced apprehension. I am chilly today and happily anticipating the unpacking of my favorite fisherman knit sweaters and boots, but at the same time, I am melancholic. Today is my daughter’s birthday. I have spent nearly 30 years utterly devoted to my two girls. Before they were born, I had wandered aimlessly though life without a purpose often questioning my existence. I spent quality time looking in the mirror and loathing the person looking back at me, and then, in a single moment, a nurse placed a tiny little human in my arms, and I suddenly knew why God had put me on the earth. I was born to be mamma. I embraced that privilege with vengeance. I had the good fortune to be able to cease working outside of the home so I could be June Cleaver. I was classroom Mom, PTA Mom, field trip Mom, Sunday School Mom. I invented helicoptering before that term came into vogue. I bought a house a block from the school so I could always be there before, during, and after school. Then one day I came home to find divorce papers in my mailbox. No warning. Not only did he want a divorce, but he wanted the kids too. Children he barely ever saw because work and his social life took precedence over spending time with his family. Now he wanted out and to take apart that family, so he could start a new family with both the secretary he had been seeing, and the money from the joint accounts he had drained unbeknownst to me. There I was, a stay at home Mom, blissfully raising my life’s joy, helpless to fight back against the team of mahogany and brass lawyers that he had hired, who just happened to play golf with the judge assigned to the case. A judge who was going through a divorce of his own and hated women at that point in time. I did not work, so my attorney came out of the yellow pages. I lost after a year of being treated like a subhuman entity in court day after day. Everything I knew to be good in the world was gone. I moved out because he also got the house, and I was suddenly a visitor in my children’s lives, the person they saw a few times a week. I was not there to comb their hair or read them stories every night. I was not classroom Mom, or PTA Mom, I was no one. The only identity I knew was gone. He quickly remarried and I was relegated to the role of “other,” while he, and his new wife, and the two additional children they subsequently produced became family. My girls spent time with me, and we found ways of staying close. I wept every time I dropped them off “home” and returned to the place I lived but which would never be a home. For every birthday, and every holiday my time was negotiated while his was automatic. Nothing would ever be the same. My daughter is living with me now with her family while they wait to close on their own home, but even now, I am the outsider. She has a husband and two children of her own, and they spent the day…her birthday… with her father …her family. I will see her later…the after- thought…the outsider… perhaps before they go to bed. My other daughter and I are still close, but she lives in another part of the country now. I listen to so many other parents who cannot wait until their children turn 18 and move out. I hear them say that they cannot wait until they get their lives back. I didn’t have a life before my children, and every time I log into social media and I see their profiles laden with photos of family and I am not in one single image, I feel a stabbing pain sear through me. I thought I no longer had any heart left to break, and yet there it is…every time…ready to shatter anew. What hurts the most is I know that I did everything right…too right, and it did not matter. Had I been addicted to crack, sold my body on the street, neglected them, abused them like so many mothers of the foster children that my sister raised, the system would have done everything to award me custody. Being a good mother worked against me. The pain will always be there I suppose…every time I see a mother walking her children in the park I will be reminded of the loss…a wrong that cannot ever be righted. Autumn will always be bitter sweet. I should be on a hayride going apple picking with my family, but that is a privilege that now belongs to another. I will fight today the depression hat wants to consume me.
Autumn: I love autumn. Pumpkin, cloves... - Anxiety and Depre...
After reading your post, i have no words. I am dumbfounded and amazed that someone could do that to a person they once loved. Autumn used to be my favorite time of the year, but now I have anxiety the moment i smell the air change. Knowing the long, dark, cold winter is coming along with my depression in full force. My daughter's are also my life. And i honestly can say that you are STRONG and BRAVE. Much more so than me. Please continue to stay that way!
Thank you Eeed. I felt neither strong nor brave, but God's grace is all I can say gets me through. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time that is what we do. I am trying to re-write the narrative so that I can reclaim those things I have let be robbed from me...the things I love about this time of year. I loathe the winter that follows, but I will try to embrace every day of fall and force myself to do things like picking apples even if I have to do them alone
This is heartbreaking. I hope you can find something else in your life to love, as hard as that may be. If not a person then maybe a volunteer calling? It sounds like you missed out on some things with your kids so maybe you could volunteer your time with the local school or library?
Also as hard as it is with depression/anxiety try to see the time you have with your kids as a blessing. They are both still in your life so try to focus on the positive, and on the present. You can do this, it will be ok!
Thank you Eowyn. I do a great deal of community service. My mother taught us that when you feel like everything in your life is wrong, you should go do something for someone else less fortunate, and it will put whatever you are going through into perspective. She was not only a wise woman and an awesome role model, she had the most compassionate heart, and her advice always works.
Through my mother, I can relate to your story. My mom threw our dad out when she caught him cheating. He came back one day and kidnapped us. He told the court (as well as his family and hers) that she had abandoned us. Not knowing where he was with us, she couldn't defend herself in court when he filed divorce. After she found us living with his parents, who lived across the country, she decided it would cause us too much trauma to go to court. Our dad threatened to make us testify, if she did. We got to see her only for a week each summer for 8 years. We saw our dad 1 day the whole time.
She must have gone through the same hell you experience. She never let us see her pain, but we knew it was there.
As I ached for her, I now ache for you.
Enjoy your lovely autumn. I pray you'll discover peace very soon.
My heart aches for you. You were robbed of so much that you can never get back. Herein lies the problem with the court system in this country. The children are supposed to come first, but rarely do. As an adult I and your mum experienced pain and loss but a great deal of that pain comes in knowing how cheated children are, and the helplessness in not being able to fight against a system that maintains a cookie cutter approach to dealing with families in distress. We had the maturity to handle our pain for better or worse, but you and my children did not have those coping skills yet. Bless you for reaching out. I wish the circumstances were different under which we have become united. I pray that you your mum, and your siblings find healing
There aren't too many times in life where I am left speechless but this is one of those times. You are a fighter. As I celebrated my son's 14th birthday today, I remember how I wasn't "ready" for him to come into the world (he was premature) but once I held him in my arms, I was on a mission to make sure he gained weight and continued to be a healthy happy little boy. I have imagined being in your shoes as I thought my husband would have divorced me by now. I thought about what would happen if a judge awarded him custody since he makes more money than me. I thought about how my kids would feel "visiting" me. So far, those thoughts have only remained a constant reminder of the possibility because so far, nothing has changed. My kids are still with me which makes reading your story so much more heart-breaking to me. I know God created us all with a purpose. I didn't know my purpose either until I gave birth to my first child. Motherhood seemed natural to me and I felt if I couldn't do anything else well with my life, raising good kids would be my mission, and I happily accepted it. Though you can't get back the years taken from you with your kids, you can press forward to be a mother to the motherless. You have so much love to give and there are so many children who need someone who will love them unconditionally. You could be a big sister (like the big brother organization). You could be a mentor. You could become a foster mom, and who knows you could even adopt. Doing any of these things is not to replace what you have with your two girls because they will always be your girls. When they have children, I pray they will allow your grandkids to be close with you because you will probably be the best grandma in the world. Forgetting the past is tough. You were treated unfairly. I get it (speaking from present experiences). I've been there and still feel it now. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and you still have a purpose. Don't let what your ex did to you or your girls make you think any differently. Autumn is a reminder that life is about seasons. One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. "1To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
May you continue to find peace in the midst of the storms of life.
I tried with difficulty not to cry as I read what you wrote, but I could not as it touched my heart. Thank you. I have done all of the things that you have suggested...not necessarily in reaction to what happened to me, but because my mother was always mother to the masses. She took in strangers, mothered all of our friends, and her patients. I have been a "Big," fostered, taught, volunteered and extended myself to children in need as often as time permits, and hopefully inspired my own children to do the same as my mother influenced me. I am fortunate in that I do get to spend quality time with my grandchildren. It is bitter sweet because I adore them, but they also serve as a constant reminder of the loss of the years with my own. I am learning about trauma, and attachment. Most attachment theory focuses on what happens to the child when they are separated from a caregiver early. Little is written about what the separation does to the parent when the separation is not voluntary. Thank you for the passage of scripture. I'm old enough to still have The Byrds on vinyl