Wednesday, November 22, 2017
I see my last entry was a little over a year ago. It was about 5 weeks after our family went through a major tragedy. The first year of grieving had only just begun. I have to admit, this year was not very sunny at all.
My teenage boys lost their father in a motorcycle accident. He died instantly. We had been divorced for 13 years. We did not have a very good post-divorce parent relationship. I cannot even tell you how many "I wish I could go back" moments I have had to make different memories for my kids.
One of the biggest would be at my oldest son's graduation. See, when we divorced, my ex had made comments about my weight. I wasn't even very much over weight but for him it was enough. He once said that he was embarrassed to be seen with me. That was really hard. And at the time, it put me on a dangerous trail of seeking validation with the wrong person. I lost 75 pounds and he later told me how proud of me he was, not just for that but for everything I had done.
So, fast forward many years to my son's graduation where I now have gained back all of that weight. He is now married to a much younger, much smaller woman.
As far as I have come, and has strong as I am in so many situations, there are certain things that bring me back to a core behavior. Like a small child with no maturity trying to survive in a scary world. I have a pattern of being self-defeating when I experience these moments. I got there early so I could get a good seat. I saw him and his wife waiting in line. I didn't want him to see me, so I hung back and hid behind some pillars. I got a bad seat. Then after, when there were pictures, I couldn't force myself to go over there. I was with my mom and I wish she were stronger and told me to suck it up and gave me a pep talk, but my mom is sometimes insecure too. Usually not, but there was a certain type of bullying that happened over many years in this relationship that can have a profound impact on the strongest of people and we weren't the strongest to begin with. I lied and said my mom was getting sick and I left. No pictures. No hugs. Many regrets.
My son asked me several times to have joint grad party at his dad's house. I tried to make myself be able to do it but I couldn't. It was all of the bullying coming back to haunt me. I did not want to spend my son's grad party being completely uncomfortable and self conscious.
i was so selfish. I thought I could lose weight and be there as two parents for many other things and eventually it would wash out that event. But that was the last one that his father would ever be at.
A few short months later, I sat at their father's house with his entire family all day long when he died. I was there several times while we tried to sort out the future of the house and my boys' lives. I hugged his wife several times. Sure, I felt self conscious at times. But it didn't matter anymore. Because all cared about was being there for my boys.
In fact, the next few weeks were filled with some of the most awkward moments of my life. I was confused about my role, my place in the family. Confused about my depth of grieving. I had spent so much time only remembering bad things, resenting him, that all of these good memories flooding back to me was overwhelming.
I was scared. I was so scared for my boys. Would they ever be happy again? Will they become depressed and retreat to their rooms forever? Do drugs, drink, drop out of school? Etc. etc.
I am so proud of them. They are doing amazing. They are doing exactly what they planned for their lives. The oldest started college and is working. The youngest is graduating with high honors and going to his college with an amazing scholarship. They have picked up new hobbies like bicycling and playing the guitar.
One of the last times I got really upset was about 8 months after he passed. It was at my other son's award ceremony for high school. When I realized he was on the list for high honors, I started crying. I couldn't stop for a while. I was so proud, so happy. Yet, so sad. I wished his dad was there. I wish we would have been good enough to hug each other and say, "Good job." to each other for raising them up to be good boys in spite of all the struggles.
I don't let those feelings overwhelm me for long. I can't. I am grateful for all of the positives I can't change the past and it's ok to feel regret and sadness as long as I use that to change my future behaviors.
Joey graduates this year. I will do things very different of course. I also have another son with another father I divorced. And it has taught me to let things go for the sake of my child. I'm not perfect still. But I am better. And that is all I can hope to be. Better every day.