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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Kids spending weekend with 'the other woman' - Gone, Daddy, Gone guest post: "Oh, the pain."

My friend Lisa is an exceptional writer, knowing just how to channel her pain and life experiences into moving prose. Her words resonate so much, even if you haven't been through what she has. She's in the moment when she's telling you about her life, even if the moment has passed and she's doing okay now… she takes you there, too. Here is the beautiful Lisa:

We ran a piece of Lisa's on Josie's Juice and it had much reaction on social media. It was about surviving the humiliation of an affair. You can read it here.

When I read this new piece, below, I was actually overwhelmed for Lisa. It's quite a story: raw, honest, brutal, sad… and then uplifting and inspiring.

Here it is reproduced in full, below.

Oh, the pain

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about my divorce and the affair that led us there. So, I'm going to answer those questions one by one…  

Ask anyone who’s been through a divorce and they will tell you that it’s hard, whether it was a mutual decision or came about as the result of an affair (my scenario). There are lots of difficult things about divorce – the emotional pain, the great sense of failure, the logistical aspects of separating two entwined lives, the general letting go and trying to move forth with your pride and dignity intact. 

I found all of these things just as horrible and gut-wrenching as everyone else who has walked the same path, but for me nothing was harder than having to hand my children over to X knowing they would be spending the weekend with THE OTHER WOMAN. 

I swear that the first few times I had to send my sweet angels off to be in the company of my archenemy, I actually vomited. It felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart a thousand times and I was throwing up chunks of my severely damaged organ. It’s the most violent physical reaction I’ve ever had to anything. 

My counsellor attempted to console me by reminding me that I survived my own parents’ divorce, and that X and Y wouldn’t exactly be playing happy families. But I was utterly inconsolable. I felt like screaming out my own version of Ellen Ripley’s classic line in Alien… “GET AWAY FROM THEM, YOU BITCH.” 

It just didn’t feel at all natural to be handing over my baby, who was only 16 months at the time. The thought of Y holding him or kissing him or trying to mother him in any way was just too excruciating for words.

And knowing that my eldest son (then aged 7) was putting on his bravest face each time he left me was devastating. Every single night for 10 entire months his big blue eyes would pool up as he tried to make sense of why his Dad would want to leave us to go and live with another woman.

I kept reiterating the point that Daddy had left me, not him and his brother. He simply didn't understand and it was so agonising to watch him go through his first experience of heartbreak. He took to painting pictures of his fractured family, where the four of us would typically be standing outside of a house. It was quite literally the house with no heart, and just looking at those paintings still makes me cry.

One of our eldest son's 'divorce' paintings.

It took a very, very long time for me to get to a point where I didn’t feel any pain or fury or despair every time my boys headed off to be with X and Y. It was extremely difficult to accept that I had absolutely zero control over the situation – X had the right to see whoever he wanted when our boys were with him, and I had no choice but to get used to it. 

Counselling was key to delivering me to a place of peace. And I guess I realised after a while that even though X had deemed me replaceable, my boys would only ever have one Mother – and that great privilege is all mine. 

Once I had gotten through the grief of our relationship breakdown and my world started opening up again, I began to treat my child-free weekends like a magical gift. I even started to feel a little sorry for Y – she had no children of her own but had to work hard all week then spend most of her weekends helping to care for mine. I definitely don’t think she got the best deal.

Now I can honestly say that I don’t give it another thought when Friday comes around. In fact, sometimes I’m so completely exhausted from working and managing the whole school week single-handedly that I can’t wait for the weekends to arrive. I know my boys are in good hands and I want them to both have a healthy and happy relationship with their Dad, and I truly appreciate his ongoing devotion to them. 

While I don’t like the fact that Y continues to ignore my requests to meet up and move forth (after all, it’s been over eight years and I'm happily in love again), it doesn't pain me to know she's a part of my boys' lives – and I have to give her some credit for hanging in there. On the whole, despite the challenges I think X and I have done a pretty fantastic job of ensuring that our boys feel secure and well-loved and normal.

Our eldest son (who is now 15) says he loves having two homes in two completely different locations (X lives in the city and I live in the country) – he's well-adjusted and confident and at ease with the fact that his parents are divorced. Our youngest son (almost 10) is completely enamoured of his Dad at the moment, so is always thrilled at the thought of seeing him and goes off without a care in the world. 

As for me, I’m happy knowing my boys are content. Really, what more can a parent ask for!

This story originally appeared here.

To follow Gone, Daddy, Gone click here.

Here is a little more about the amazing Lisa, in her own words:

My name is Lisa...

Affairs and divorce have had a profound impact on my life, so I have plenty to say on the subject and invite you to get involved in the conversation. Tears are guaranteed, as are my suggested playlists (every broken heart needs the support of a good soundtrack). Together I believe we can learn a thing or two about love.

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