This morning I was struggling. The aftermath of my outburst last week was wreaking havoc with my emotions. I was at work, thankfully busy, but every minute I was alone, I was in tears. This afternoon, I became kind of numb to it. Mostly because I have no control over the outcome, and my brain on overload just shut the emotions down. I made it through the day numb. Comfortably numb.
I worked late, on purpose, so that I wouldn’t sit home thinking about it. On the way home, after a 10 hr day, I began to think about it again. I said to myself, “So, if the worst happens, will it be the worst thing you have ever lived through?”
The answer is no…absolutely not. I began to remember, in full living color, the darkest days of my life. I got through them. Successfully. I triumphed. I decided to write about it, I am ready now, to see it in perspective, and to recognize my own strength, my own intuition, my own gut instinct.
It begins with my son.
I moved out of my old house in March 2007, after 30 years of marriage. I didn’t file for divorce until the beginning of August that year. The reasons, the singular event that made me realize I HAD to file, for me but even moreso for my son, is another whole blog. Just let me say, I had my reasons and they were compelling.
My son lived with his father. My son played hockey, for over a decade I knew myself as a “hockeymom”. His father controlled his hockey career. Was his coach, his advisor, and his biggest and most cruel critic. It was a control mechanism for his father. His father used hockey to control my son, and he used my son to control me.
Example: One day my son and I were going to go to the mall. My ex normally hated shopping trips, hated the mall, had a bad back so hated walking around the mall. But this day, he decided he wanted to go. He didn’t want my son and I alone without him. Control. We had been at each other’s throats for days, I did NOT want to sit in a car with him to the mall, and have to deal with him all day. My son and I loved going together. We would go to Dunkin Donuts, and fast food, and do all the things that his father didn’t allow. Before we got home we’d have to empty the car of all the wrappers and bags, but we’d always be laughing. So this day, his dad decided to go, and I couldn’t cope with his dad. Simple. I told his father he could go and I’d stay home and get some work done. He insisted we all go together. I thought I would lose my mind if I went, so I kept saying no. He got my son on the phone and told him, that he was sorry, but he wouldn’t be able to coach him anymore, or go to his games, or practices, and that they wouldn’t be able to spend much time together because his mother, me, wouldn’t do what he wanted.
Those were his words, exactly. My son became hysterical, he was maybe 11, and screamed at me, “Mom, what are you doing? You HAVE to go, I’m going to lose my father….”
Needless to say I went. I drove. My son and I sat in the car, waiting for his father to come to the car so we could leave. His dad finally came out, beer in his hand, got in the car, and said to my son, ” See what a little pressure can do?” He was PROUD of his behavior.
So there you have it…the control factor.
When I moved out, my son lived with my ex, due to the hockey factor. It was the main event of our lives. My son refused to spend a night with me, or come over unless his father insisted. He was terrified of angering his father, whose temper was volatile and scary. He was 6’2″, about 250 lbs. He had arms as big as most men’s legs and was strong as an ox. When I filed for divorce, my ex kept trying to talk me out of it. As I said, my reasons were compelling for any sane woman, and I refused to “pause” it as he asked. My court date wasn’t for 2 months. I had to get through those 2 months and then I would have some rights to see my son. I could not help my son if I had no access to him.
I had been paying for all 3 cell phones. After all, I was the one, only one, bringing money into the household. We lived off my check. I had continued to pay for them, because additional phones were only $10 a month or something. When I refused to stop the divorce proceeding, my ex bought he and my son new cell phones, and they refused to give me the numbers. I know my son refused because his father told him to, we have discussed it since. My son was 15, and trying to survive.
But this meant, that I couldn’t call my son. I called the house phone, they shut the ringers off. I had no way to contact my son, and see if he was ok. If you can imagine, he was living with a man who thought nothing of hurting him, in order to get to me. And I was unable to even check on him. So, about 3 times a week, I would go over to my old house and bang on the door, and beg my son to come out, and just give me a hug. I was generally sobbing hysterically. He would hug me until I calmed. We might have a brief conversation, but mostly I just wanted to see he was ok. To see him. To hold him, my only child. I knew that his father was on the other side of the door, listening to every word we said.
But I knew, instinctively, that my son needed to know that I loved him, that I was still standing, no matter what he threw at me. He needed to know that I knew what was going on, and that I would never stop loving him. Ever. For two months, I stood there crying, telling him I loved him. I asked nothing of him, except once in awhile, his phone number when the pain became too strong. He would always say, “soon Mom, I’ll give it to you soon….”
Fast forward to a court date, where I got visitation, court ordered. And the phone numbers, court ordered. And it still took another month before my ex would abide by the orders. He continued to play games with the phones. But, I had 4 hours minimum with my son every week. Dinner twice a week, and supposedly every other weekend. I still was not allowed to drive him to hockey games, or practice or home. Since he played both days of every weekend, my time with him was limited.
But…it was enough. I showed him a different way to live. He became glad to come over. He still struggled with his father’s control, but eventually, he was riding his bike over to my house when it wasn’t my time, hiding his bike inside my house, just to have some “free” time.
Eventually, a year and 2 months after I filed for divorce, he left for school from his father’s house, and came home to my house. He never went back. He left EVERYHING, he came with the clothes on his back. I had bought him a pair of jeans and a few shirts, long before, on the off chance he wanted to stay with me unexpectedly. But I had to take him out and buy him a new wardrobe for school. He didn’t want to even look at his father.
That was his freedom day, Sept. 29, 2008. I got him counseling, I talked with him, we worked through a lot of really hard stuff. It was not easy. But today, I am so proud of the young man he’s become. Just so proud.
Now, I’ve been known to say there is always a lesson. We don’t always know what the lesson is. Sometimes it comes years later, sometimes we never recognize it. But the lesson here, for me, was simple, and is the core of my spiritual beliefs now.
Simply….the power of unconditional love is greater than any other power in the universe. Nothing that evil can do can hold a candle to the light of unconditional love. Fear, and anger, and hate…..have no power when faced with unconditional love. I don’t know why I was so blessed to know this, instinctively. Back then I had not one spiritual thought in my head. But I loved my son, unconditionally and always. This love gave him a place to go, a path out of the dark chaos that his father would have us in forever. I take no credit for this. I was the conduit for a source, an energy, much greater than me. It came from somewhere, flowed through me, to my son. And saved both our lives.
Back to this morning….I hope the power in unconditional love brings a happy ending to my struggle. Is it a difficult struggle, yes. But the worst of my life…No. I am strong. I triumphed over the ugly, the cruel, the mean, and so did my son. I will get through it, however it turns out. I am strong, stronger than I ever knew. I’d been forgetting that lately. I make mistakes, I am good, bad, imperfect, loving, kind, mean, and crazy, at any given moment. I’m working on it all. But I am strong, all the time. I’ll grow, I’ll get better. Because I am strong. And I know where real power comes from.