I never imagined by writing the Open letter to my twenty something self would have opened up emotions that I hadn’t felt for over ten years. As I wrote that letter I imagined myself standing next to such a lost, brokenhearted, young woman…..to recall the feeling of the cold tile floor beneath me, the emptiness of the house, the silence that surrounded me once more made me just want to delete every word that I had typed so far, I didn’t want to go back to that day….I didn’t want to FEEL those emotions again. I diligently worked hard to shield the truth behind my fake smile that appeared across my face to the people I came in contact with , not even my closest friends knew the darkness that surrounded me during that time.
Driving home from work yesterday, I broke down in tears. “Why now…..shit am I pmsing? Noooo it’s too soon. Why was that letter affecting me this much?” I couldn’t shake that feeling of hopelessness and despair…..I was relieved to find that the Mister wasn’t home yet, I hurried inside and wiped the tears away and did my best to redo my smeared make-up. I don’t know why I bothered; he wouldn’t notice that I had been crying….shit he hasn’t even noticed that I colored my hair.
Throughout the evening I thought about the post I wrote and while sitting outside next to the fire pit enjoying the beautiful night a heaviness laid on my heart, I knew eventually this would be read by my daughters. “How would they react? Would one call it pathetic while the other one began to truly understand what I went through? Would I lose followers from being too raw” these were just some of my thoughts that I had while getting lost in the flames dancing in front of me.
The last thing I wanted to be labeled was “the woman who gave up on her children”. Which was so far from the truth but this was the label my ex and his family felt comfortable branding me with. They certainly have a way of branding the “exes” with colorful names yet aren’t willing to come face to face with the cold hard truth with those in the family that don’t know the meaning of fidelity.
At the age of 17, we had our oldest daughter……by the age of 21, we had two little girls and I was pregnant with our son. My marriage was falling apart; to his admission years later he wasn’t ready to have a family, he was more interested in himself, his hobbies, living the single life than to be a father and a husband. I made the decision to move to the Midwest to be closer to my family; I knew the road ahead was going to be tough. I just didn’t know it was going to THAT tough. ….I was 22, with three little children under the age of six….Ann (the middle child) was having a hard time with the divorce and the newest addition; her brother. My oldest tried to hold her role as the leader and her stubbornness reigned the household. I worked countless minimum wage jobs, and at one time I was working three jobs just trying to make ends meet but it still wasn’t enough. Paying for childcare, rent, utilities sometimes left me twenty dollars for food for my family. Yes, my parents helped a little but a day didn’t go by that I didn’t hear a snide comment from my mother about watching her grand kids…..how she can never get anything done around the house or do things she wants to do because the kids were always around. Eventually, I stopped asking for help because I didn’t want to burden them. Plus the constant reminder of me being a failure didn’t help any.
Things just got tougher, my lack of money and growing debt were out of control, I didn’t know what to do anymore, I saw my kids lose their fun-loving mother… now in front of them was a shell of a woman, THEIR MOM who was tired, lost, at her wit’s end, quick-tempered and sad. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t tell them that I loved them they are my world, but they deserved much more. They didn’t deserve the life that I was giving them. They deserved a life with two parents, grandparents who didn’t feel burdened by them, cousins they could grow up with….a family who could offer them so much more. That’s what they deserved…..they didn’t deserve a mom who would lock herself up in her room and cry because she felt helpless, alone and a failure….the last thing I ever wanted was for my kids to feel as though I failed them. My ex and I were civil, it took me a year to finally come out and ask him if he could help me with our children until I can get on my feet financially. He agreed he would help and that once back on my feet the kids would come back to live with me. I never once said that I didn’t want my kids anymore, not once did I turn my back on them; as I would soon find out the ex and his wife started to tell people.
In hindsight, if I knew that my decision would haunt me for the rest of my life and knowing what I know now I don’t think I would have made the call to my ex-husband and ask him for help. I don’t know how our lives would have turned out but we wouldn’t be the people we are today. Yes, eventually my ex and I shared custody of the children but the damage was already done. He claimed he never spoke ill of me to my children but my children would ask me if what was said about me true…. “dad said he is doing you a favor by having us be with you since you gave us up, did you mommy? why didn’t you want us? Dad says you are a bad influence on us?” yes, these were just a few things I heard throughout the years ……. What type of man would say this to their kids? I never turned my back on them, when we lived in different states I called them regularly, my heart hurt every day that I wasn’t with them ….I sent them things, bought their clothing….I was THEIR mom through and through, I didn’t let the distance affect us. I never quite understood the “bad influence” comment which he made quite often….it wasn’t like I was some drug pushing whore who drank constantly in front of my children. I worked my butt off to gain the experience and increase in pay so I could provide for my children, I didn’t go to parties on the weekends (like he did), I didn’t put other things before them (like he did)….I led a pretty boring life, yes I dated and had some horrible break ups but that shouldn’t be a deciding factor on another label he branded me with.
As I walked into my office this morning I pondered on the sign that I have on my book shelf….I bought it for the patients who come into my office from time to time, to offer encouragement, to offer hope.
Happiness is something you decide ahead of time
I will leave you with that and a promise that the next post won’t be so raw …… thank you all for your loving comments. You guys are truly the best and you know who you are!!!