“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
Newly graduated from college, a first-semester graduate student, married, and a new mother by 24, one could easily say I had a full plate. Madly in love with both my son and my husband, and fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home-mom, I was in love with my life, or what I perceived to be my life.
My husband and I met when we were very young. He was seventeen and I was eighteen. We had little in common, yet we fell madly and deeply in love with one another. Our relationship survived some trying times including moving across country and back, all four years of my undergraduate career, and a devastating miscarriage that nearly destroyed me. Naive as I was, I believed us to be indestructible. Little did I know what life had in store for us and our future.
Married at twenty-two, pregnant at twenty-three, and a brand spanking new mom by twenty-four, I thought I had it all figured out. My husband was, admittedly, a hard worker who did whatever it took to support our son and myself; allowing me the privilege of staying home with our baby boy and experiencing the once in a lifetime joys that come with witnessing all the “firsts.”
Soon though, things began to change. They seemed to change slowly, or maybe I just ignored them and chose to recognize them slowly as a coping mechanism? When my son was just two years old I discovered my husband was struggling with a serious prescription pill addiction. He admitted his problem and immediately sought the help he so desperately needed. I stood by him, never for a minute considering any other option. I loved my husband, the father of my child, my teenage sweetheart. Surely we could get through this “little problem.”
Upon his return from treatment more and more was revealed. Not only had he been struggling with addiction, but there were girls. Many, many girls. It was as if he was living a double life. On one hand, he proclaimed to be a dedicated father and husband, and on the other, he was abusing prescription pills and philandering with more girls than I care to know of.
Months passed and soon a year had passed and nothing changed. For a while, I tried to convince myself I could continue living the way we were for I was so in love with my son I was just grateful to be home with him, and I knew if I left him I would be forced to return to the workforce and place my now toddler in preschool. Then it happened; my ah-ha moment. My beloved grandfather had been on hospice for a week and we all knew it was only a matter of time. I received the worst call of my life from my grandmother very late one mid-May night. I immediately called my very late from work husband, desperate for solace and support. He forwarded my calls all night, only to stroll into the house around three in the morning claiming his phone had died. This was incredibly absurd as he was listening to his iTunes on the very phone he claimed to be “dead.” In that moment, I knew we were over. My grandfather may have been gone but my husband was dead to me. I never wanted my son to look at his father through my eyes, and I knew he would should we have stayed together. Shortly after our separation, I received a call from an unknown girl who revealed she had been carrying on a relationship with my husband, unbeknown to me. She wanted to congratulate me for leaving him, for apparently, he had created a completely false identity to her. She referred to him as a sociopath. I politely asked that she never contact me again. At the end of the day, she was still my husband’s mistress and I had no interest nor need for her apology nor congratulations.
The divorce was brutal. He was brutal, I was brutal, it was awful. I fought long and hard for the only thing that mattered to me, sole physical and legal custody of our son. After three long years, I finally won. I hate even using the word won, for there truly is no winner in divorce. My son lost his father and I lost who I thought was the love of my life. Nobody won, but I felt confident my son would always be well-loved and cared for and that was my priority.
It’s been nearly four years now and my son hasn’t seen nor spoken to his father in over two years. As a matter of fact, since our initial separation, I can count on my hands how many times my son has both seen and spoken with his father. This consumes me with guilt. Maybe I could’ve done something different to make things better for my son? I’ll never truly know the answer to this but what I do know is that I was a dedicated and loving wife who would’ve moved mountains to save our marriage.
My ex-husband is completely absent. He doesn’t support our son financially, emotionally, or spiritually. How could he when he doesn’t bother to even speak to him? He’s missed more holidays, birthdays, and milestones than I care to recount, and my now nine-year-old son is more than aware of this. I continually remind him that the loss is his father’s and his father’s alone; he has done nothing wrong.
My ex-husband’s deplorable and inexcusable behavior is certainly ammunition for anger. But I decided a long time ago to let go of my hurt and anger. Had we never met and been married our son wouldn’t have been born, and our son has completed me in a way I didn’t know possible. My ex is who he is and I once loved him very much. I’m grateful for our marriage and even our divorce because it taught me more about myself than any college course I ever attended. I actually hope some day my ex-husband finds peace within himself. He is the father of my child, and I refuse to hate him.
My son and I have been Blessed with a wonderful man, who is my now husband and one of the best men I’ve ever known. I’m thankful every day that my son is learning to be a man from him, and I’m honored to be his wife. My son and I have a wonderful life that we never would’ve had we not gone through what we did with my ex-husband. I have truly found freedom in forgiveness.