HOW DO YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?
You move through it; you take a journey to happyland.
It was done. I had left my husband of nine years.
He came home from a few hours at the bar with his friends after work and a very small amount of his paycheck left. He had cashed it and spent a large percentage of it with his friends at a bar near his work place. This had happened many times recently and I could not abide anymore of it. I normally wouldn't start a discussion while he was under the influence, but I had had enough at this point so I began the conversation. It wasn't fun. It wasn't what I expected. I expected to tell him what I needed and for him to understand that I was serious and things had to change. I expected him to love me enough to make that happen, whatever it took. I expected this time to be the last time.
I told him that I could not pay the bills and put food on the table with less than half his paychecks. I told him I did not want to raise our children with an alcoholic. I reminded him that my own father had been an alcoholic and had quit drinking to save his life and I reminded him what a wonderful father and husband he had become since. I clearly told him this was the last time I would ever have this discussion. It was not the first. I clearly told him if he couldn't stay sober, I was leaving.
He yelled. He threw a heavy glass ashtray at my head. I ducked and slid down the wall. Out of the corner of my eye I saw our 5 year old son standing just outside the doorway. Horror on his face. Just as I was about to turn to my son, his father struck my face with his hand. It was a slap with the back of his hand, I think. It startled me and hurt like hell. Again I hit the wall, remaining upright this time. I said, "You will NEVER get a chance to do that again." It was just above a whisper.
I stopped speaking and so did he. He walked past me and put his fist through the kitchen cabinet on his way to the back door which he pushed so hard it hung from only one screw in his wake. The hole he left in the cabinet was terrifyingly big and all the way through.
The minute he was out of the driveway, the very second he was gone, I ran to the kids rooms and grabbed enough clothes for a few days. I told them each to get a favorite toy while I threw some things in a bag for a little vacation. We left the house in less than half an hour. I was terrified and angry and brokenhearted and the saddest I have ever been in my life. The kids were nervous. They asked repeatedly if I was okay. The red mark on my face upset them and it was beginning to turn color within the hour. They asked if their daddy was going to meet us there, more than once. I repeated the same thing over and over, "No, Daddy isn't coming. He has somethings to work out and we're gonna just take a little break while he does that." I knew they didn't understand; I didn't want them to understand. I just wanted them to love both of us. Always. I just wanted my marriage to get back on track and my life to go on as it had before their dad decided drinking with friends was a lot better than hanging with us. Before he didn't care how much money he brought home. Before he started promising me weekly that he would not go to the bar this week with his friends at all; he'd be home every night right after work. Before I stopped believing him. Before I stopped being the most important thing in his life. Before I began to fall out of love. Way before I didn't care what he did anymore. Before it was too late. A short 2 years prior we had a good life. Now we had separate lives and there was no room in this new life of his for a wife and 2 kids.
The next two years of our lives were beyond difficult. I made enough money to pay rent using three of my paychecks and the fourth had to pay all the other bills and buy food. I got no support from their father until the divorce was final a full two years and 6 months from the day I ran out of that house. That house that I once loved and believed we would grow old in, together. From that I moved into a mobile home in a mobile home park with good neighbors and close to my work. I managed to double my hours at work and have a small amount of cash for clothing and school needs. My children learned about budgeting and they learned about loving each other through everything. We did without a lot of things they were used to having, but they really didn't seem to suffer except they missed having a TV, so I planned to get one as soon as possible and started asking around about a used one. A customer of mine and a friend of my boss offered me a TV while having lunch one day. No charge, he just wanted the kids to have one. Said it wasn't a great TV, but his wife had been wanting a new one so she had offered this one for the kids. I cried and thanked them a million times. I was so happy for them. It was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for us. A friend of mine brought a bag of groceries every now and then and just put them in the cupboard. My sister and her husband did the same. We had good friends and family. My parents were there with some cash I desperately needed and refused when I tried to pay them back. They made sure my holidays were something to be celebrated and not worked through. I was not alone. I had to keep reminding myself of that. My babies needed me to carry on and I was not alone. Some days that wasn't enough.
Their dad didn't show up for his scheduled visitation very often and then when he wanted to spend time with them, he would just show up and expect to be able to take them for a day or two or whatever suited his needs. I had a problem with that. I had a problem with him not parenting or calling or showing up for them. I had a problem with him hurting our babies and not being affected at all. I had a problem with him refusing to help me support them. He thought and said that he didn't give me money because if I needed help, I could come home. He didn't understand how much I wanted to come home. I could not. That life would never be MY life again.
Our journey, the one my children and I began the night we ran from our home, was difficult and valuable and memorable and probably the most precious of all our lives. I learned how to do whatever needed to be done and they learned that I would always be there. Always. I would be the one constant in their lives. They learned how to survive when life gets crazy and unpredictable and they learned that their dad was not a man they could depend on or trust. They could love him for who he is, but never expect anything more than what they had. A casual relationship. You can't make children understand that concept. They have to learn it by being hurt, more than once.
To some extent we are still on that journey. I know my daughter has never really adjusted completely from her father simply divorcing her along with her mother. Her job now is to protect her daughters from ever going through that kind of loss and sadly, she can't because their father is doing the same to his children. Divorcing his daughters to be with someone who doesn't need or want his children in her life. My daughter loves her step-dad with all her heart and I am grateful, but it still saddens me that she doesn't even know her father. Once upon a time, he was a fabulous daddy, before ...
I also know that my son would have loved to rekindle as an adult a real father-son relationship. He tried. He reached out and made several attempts, but he failed to really reach his father. It could have been a "drinking buddies relationship," but that wasn't what my son was looking to have. He also loves and respects his step-father, but I know on some level, it hurts him that his father doesn't know or care about his grandchildren.
So our journey does go on and for all the days of my life they will be my babies and anything they ever need or want from me will be done in some way. The end of this journey will not come until I am at the end of my journey.
You mend a broken heart by living through it and coming out the other side, stronger.