The Stranger: Part One

A tidal wave of huge proportions today. Back in therapy after a 3 month hiatus, new ground to cover. Sometimes the depth seems never ending. I find I’m at a good place, only to sink deeper than desired. Yet I feel closer. This is how growth and insight are gained, is it not? I keep wondering what that place of resolution feels like. I have further to go until I know for certain.

I am a complete stranger to my kids. More horrific than that, at one point some time ago, they saw me as a loving mother, wife to their dad. This stranger, me, they are fearful of. I must begin to understand their fear. It won’t take long. There are particular benchmarks that clearly define new insights. Today was one of those.

They have heard things about me, stories, I don’t know. They have images of me, bi-polar, pathological, very sick and distorted views. Perhaps they see me as person who is sexually addicted. They know of my affairs. They know of them, only because I was threatened. And I have accepted my part in all of the bad decisions I made. In order to reach my girls, I must accept the brutal reality that they no longer see me as their mother. I have not accepted that I am a stranger to my kids. Until today.

As I work through therapy this time, the yearning to understand myself heightens as does my resolute. I am not solely responsible for the demise of my marriage. This is not why my girls are angry with me. They understand all marriages have their challenges. I believe they accept that. They are (rightly so) angry that I chose to have affairs. In their minds, their mother, one whom they loved, looked up to, trusted and believed in, ripped apart their lives, irreperably damaged their being. They know very little about the intimate relationship between their parents (nor should they). The see their father as the victim, mom, sick and demented.

Where to go from here?

Therapy continues. I will work on pressing through the shame which I am healing from. There is a great void, a disconnect I feel about my past. Cognitively, I understand my behavior. Emotionally, I am detached. Is this because I can no longer look at the kind of person I was? Have I not endured enough of my own pain in order to feel what the kids feel? How much longer does the estrangement continue without my having a voice, the opportunity to share myself? I now fully recognize where all of their anger stems from – that I betrayed my husband and my family, without a care about the consequences. In essence, there is some truth to this. Making the decision to seek solace and acceptance from another outside of my marriage, I did not think about consequences, period. How could I have been so detached from the two people I love so in this world?

I know my past behavior is just that – past. No longer that same person, each and every decision I make, consequences are considered above anything else. Try as I might, this includes my decisions to reach my children. Now I stand back, further than before. With the help and support from my own therapist as well as my kids’ therapist, I remain steadfast, working through all the pain necessary towards reunification.

Steps Toward Reunification Begins

New energy has taken a twist of late. Despite my ever-dreaded insomnia the last week or so, life has new meaning: steps towards reunification with daughters has begun. 

It Starts with an Email…

Ok, so I copied and pasted it to 3 separate therapists. Spark notes for long-term marriage and divorce don’t exist, hence, the splendor and usefulness of bullet points can not be over exaggerated. Tonight, off they go, into the iCloud above the heavens, my first step in seeking help and support in reconnecting with my young adult children. Conclusion to the story, while evident in finality of divorce, what remains open is the relationship with my kids, no such ending in close sight. Be that as it may, there is a renewed sense of empowerment, optimism in the air. I help to create that. Optimism – it’s a choice.

But, what if….?

Letting go of doubt is not easy. Both kids clearly do not want to see me, this I know. What else they are feeling, thinking day-to-day, pure speculation. Tiring of assumptions, next week, more change as I venture ahead. Pain yet still deep, I am determined to do what’s necessary for them, just as much as for me. I find myself constantly justifying that the kids come first, as if putting myself before them is somehow selfish on my part, that it’s all about me. This is about me. This is about them. This is about family, love, connecting, understanding, forgiving others, forgiving ourselves. This is about peace, gratitude and doing what’s right. Mistakes, oh how we let them dictate behaviors…moving beyond reactionary, I now see a future of reunification, of healing. I simply can not do it alone. And that’s OK. No need to. Just gotta reach out and ask.

Navigating the Push and Pull of Estrangement

It’s been over six months since we’ve been under the same roof. No longer toddlers, their growth not physically apparent, I think about their emotional development, what that might look like; their perspectives, opinions, insights. Most of all, I simply miss them.

With each step forward, feelings of hope and optimism heighten, my strength gathers momentum and I am certain to reunite with my kids at some point.

Coping with estrangement, the most painful experience ever felt, one can not describe the kind of emptiness inside. They are young adults. Most assuredly, they lives are evolving regardless of dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Talking with a friend of mine today, she shared her own natural evolution with her young adult children, new roles replacing more familiar ones. Different needs between mother and daughter, once just that, now as friends, more as peers. There are no specific time tables in which one should follow – these relationships have their own rhythm created by their own specific beat.

Despite better days, set-backs occur and I fall back, hollow space inside which can never be fulfilled with anything other than them. Thus, I have decided to seek help, to talk and connect with several therapists, reaching out, asking for help. What I truly seek is one of an advocate. One who believes in the healing process, the power of what healing can bring to a family, a person, a soul. There is a great deal of isolation that comes with estrangement. Loving friends, family, all so supportive, it is not easy to comfort one in my situation. “They’ll (the kids) eventually come around.” “They just need time, they’re very hurt and angry.” And my favorite, “You’re still their Mom.”

Well meaning, I understand this sentiment. It is the believing I struggle with. But as said before, this is not about me. I continue to understand what is best for them, search and gain insight – what they need from me. Not today, tomorrow, or even next year. My life moves forward; my friends, family, my own happiness no longer put on hold, I have made deliberate and mindful decisions which will allow the clarity needed in doing just this. There is no ease in the healing process. The rewards are gained intrinsically. Reconciling with my kids is the most tantamount issue in my life. Other than caring for myself, nothing is more important, takes precedent. I am gauging a new path to reunification.