My 2 year vacation, part 5

So right here is where my brilliant decision making powers took over as you’ll soon see.  Oops, did the sarcasm drip off the page?

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I don’t remember sleeping at all that night I was kicked out of my moms house.  I went to the house of the only one who seemed to understand, my childhood friend.  We sat and talked for hours trying to piece together what had happened.  We talked through the day several times, and the facts stood:  my mom knew I would not be home at any certain time.   (She laughed and smiled while she was standing there watering the edges of the lawn.  It’s etched in my mind…on my soul.)  No one had said a word about the plan to meet at the grave site in the early afternoon, I had no idea.  Through all the yelling, screaming, cussing and name calling I pieced it together and tried to tell someone, anyone I didn’t know anything about it.  I got called a liar.  Again, when mob mentality takes over chaos ensues.  No one listens.

If this same scenario took place today, I’d stand in the middle of my mothers living room and hold my ground calmly and peacefully.  BUT I WOULD NOT LEAVE, PERIOD.  The chaos and entire situation was ridiculous and absurd on so many levels.  It took me a while to understand, but, I cooperated with the madness like I had done so many times before.  A dysfunctional abusive childhood has that effect.  Just sayin.

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I’m divorced a bit more than a year, exiled from my “friends” and entire social network, my dad recently passed away, my mother has kicked me out of her house, and my entire family is angry at me for abandoning them…..

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Well, except for my youngest son, even at 10 he could see the nonsense for what it was.  I’ll never be able to express to him the depth of gratitude I have for him.

All the decisions I made following this debacle hurt him (and my oldest son) deeply, I’d imagine to their very souls.

(God help me for the pain I inflicted on my precious innocent sons.  I’m trying to heal from it, but wounds of hurting someone you love so deeply take years if they in fact ever heal.  I know the blood of Christ washes me clean, but it’s difficult to accept.)

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Also, let’s throw this in: one of the many contributing factors to my being divorced is single parenting for the last 5 years we were married.  My then husband made a career change from writer/ad exec to teacher and football coach, and basketball coach and track coach and worked at a school a couple of small towns away.  In a small city or town, coaches are expected to coach a sport for every season.  Yes they’re paid to teach and to coach, however when you divide the hours by their pay, it’s such a pittance it makes your stomach hurt.  It did mine.  So before you bitch and moan about your children’s teachers and coaches, they’re doing their job more from a ministry/heart/love standpoint than you realize.  Appreciate them and support and encourage them.

Bottom line, the last 5 years we were married, I was a single parent and everything for our 2 sons fell to me.  By the time my dad got sick and passed away, I was weary and exhausted mentally and physically.

When I think about my mental state at that point I understand why I made the decisions I made, but it doesn’t make any of them ok.  I felt completely alone, abandoned, and this one childhood friend seemed to completely understand.

So here’s what I did:

I stayed the rest of the summer with childhood friend because at least someone understood.  Plus, me being gone meant my now ex-husband had to step up to the plate and finally be a dad, right?!

I went back home late August, and a day or two later was bombarded with the news that I had been the subject of conversation at a church picnic.  (A large church of about 2,000) Evidently, I was staying with a childhood friend and “shacking up with him”.  This was shared by a coach, who just happened to work with my ex-husband.  Coincidence?

I was horrified, and I was humiliated.  First, it wasn’t true, or was it?  The first few nights I slept with my clothes on.  He was so understanding and listened so intently, how could I not fall in love with him and say yes to marrying him?  I mean it just makes sense, right?!  (I know the sarcasm’s dripping again huh?)  But the fact was, we hadn’t got married yet, and now my sons would have the mom with The Scarlet Letter pinned to her chest.  When you live in a small town / city, the latest juicy gossip travels fast.

I travelled back to my childhood town, and promptly got married.  I felt my sons would be better off without Their Scarlet Letter mom.  Plus like I said, this would force their dad to step up to the plate and be a dad!!  I travelled back home, packed my belongings and left.

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My oldest son all but shut me out emotionally.  He still talked to me on occasion and visited once.  The one time he visited, the song “Stand by Me” came on, and he sang it to me.  It’s one of my fondest memories.  We’ve come a long way, and by the grace of God we’ve made much progress.

My youngest son tells me that he always believed I’d be back.  That he always told himself she’ll be back.  I know his belief in me was the one navigational tool that worked.  Whatever he does, wherever he goes, I am forever grateful to and for my youngest son and his unwavering belief in me.

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Right now today, my youngest son pushes me away as well.  I think the full force of my leaving finally hit and it’s not easy to navigate, and that’s putting it mildly.

My deepest truth is every moment, every season they live with me, every trip to the beach, every moment watching Netflix, every second I have with either of my sons for the last 10 years is a serendipitous gift from God. I’ve watched Him heal things that had no way of healing and I’ve prayed and prayed for some things for which I’m still waiting.  God is good and He is good all the time.

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When you go through hell in life, you learn that Jesus never walks away.

He was relentless in the pursuit of my heart and His light showed me the way out of the pit of hell.

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There’s more, but this is enough for now.

It gets worse before it gets better.  Isn’t that encouraging?

 

Our story starts with… Pain

…that which wrenched my heart…

Pain.  No one I know likes the word, I know I don’t.

A few years ago, my youngest son and I were watching an anime series titled Naruto Shippuden.  If you’re not familiar with it, regardless of your age, I highly recommend watching or reading the series.  One of the mini plots centered around 3 friends who as young children lost their parents in one of many wars, endured horrific childhood trauma and emotional pain that some never know their entire lives.  As adults, they’re determined to end the world and at first seem evil and malicious.  That is until the story unfolds and the truth is told, they simply want the pain to stop.  In their opinion ending the world means ending the pain.  One of them is even named Pain:

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As I sat watching their story unfold, tears fell many times.  My heart hurt for them, their innocence lost as children, their loss of faith in humanity, and so many more details which I won’t go into here.  There are blogs about Naruto and the show itself is worth your time.

What I’m diving into here may take some time to unfold.  I’d like to start at the beginning and have this nice, neat, orderly blog that’s chronological, logical, and perfectly sequential:  each post building on the previous.  However, anyone who’s lived longer than a couple of decades knows that’s not real life.  Oh, it’s chronological all right, but the rest – HA!  (Fighting the battle to keep life logical and rational and in sequential steps is a subject for another category on another day.)

So here we go.  Yesterday I was thinking about what I wanted to say to my youngest son.  The emotional trauma he has suffered in life, has led him to make the decision to numb his pain with weed.  If I’m to be honest and forthcoming, a pretty large chunk of that was due to decisions I made and things I did and did not do as his mom.  (We’re going to take a side bar here and get one thing perfectly straight:  I LOVE MY 2 SONS WITH MY ENTIRE HEART AND SOUL!)  In thinking about the pain my youngest son has endured, about my role in it, about his decisions for numbing it, I decided what I wanted to say to him was, “I love you and with all the pain you went through I don’t blame you for wanting to numb it, for smoking and I don’t hold it against you.”  So that is what I said to him.

The thoughts continued about the pain I caused my youngest son. This isn’t to say that I did not cause my oldest son pain, but today I was specifically thinking about my youngest.  The thoughts of how he’s used weed to numb the pain of what he’s endured ran around in my mind.  I remembered missing his 5th grade Christmas program at school and the heart wrenching, gut wrenching pain it caused me and the over 3 liters of margaritas I drank that night to numb the pain.  How it must have hurt him all those years ago.  How can I condemn him for numbing the pain I caused him?  I’m not talking about normal childhood pain, I’m talking about abandonment, neglect, and enmeshment, codependency… you know the ugly stuff no one wants to talk about.  I’m talking about a mom who left her 10 and 14 year old sons with their dad so that he’d step up and be a dad.  (No, I am not going into that now.  I’ll dissect that another day.)  Yes, I came back exactly 2 years later to the day, but the damage was done.

I thought about my pain as a child of an abusive, often raging violent alcoholic dad and my mom who did nothing but witness the abuse.  This is when the light dawned, my worst pain that which wrenched my heart, my mind, and my gut was for the pain I’ve caused my sons.  This is the worst:  hurting people you love and realizing it.  All I endured from my dad (and mom by default) humiliation, degrading names, yelling and screaming at me, his beatings… none of that compares to the agony of hurting my 2 sons. It doesn’t come anywhere close.

So why put all this out here?  Because I believe as a society we’re going down a slippery slope attempting to numb pain instead of navigate pain.  When I numb pain, I’m not treating the wound and the pain comes back if nothing heals.  When I navigate pain, I treat the wound and it hurts, BUT IT BEGINS TO HEAL.

NO.  It is not easy, but I have to decide do I want to numb my wound(s) and never treat them?  Or, do I want to treat my wounds and eventually heal?