Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Here goes....

Tomorrow, Mandy at Since My Divorce will start a series of blog posts about my story.  I just read her intro:
Tomorrow, I’m starting a new series with Debbie who blogs at My Everyday Journey. Debbie was married to the love of her life until she found out he was a pedophile. She’s an amazing lady who’s bravely and courageously rebuilt a life for herself and her son. As I said on my Since My Divorce Facebook page, never again will I listen to a news story of a pedophile without wondering if he has a wife and children and what’s happening in their world. I hope you’ll join me as Debbie shares what has helped her through her challenges.
Guess what?  She said it.  She said the word.  She said pedophile.  After talking with Mandy a few weeks ago for this series, I realized that I had never before actually used the word pedophile to describe my husband.   I reviewed the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia to make sure that's what he really was.  I went back and read my "About Me" posts and realized that I didn't even use the word there.  I danced around it.  I alluded to it.  I said my ex-husband was sexually pre-occupied with minors.  But I never said what he really was, which was a pedophile.
I know that I am not to blame for what he did.  I know there is no way I could have known about his problems at that time.  But it is something that still brings about feelings of shame.  It still makes me wonder if people judge me for being married to such a man...being married to a pedophile.  There I said it.

So....are you judging me?  Are you thinking that I must be a little insane myself?  That I must have seen signs and just chose to ignore them?  Do you think that I am a bad judge of character?  Do you think I just must not be that bright?
I have thought all those things.  I have concluded that none of them are true.  But the shame and embarrassment of falling in love, marrying and having a child with a man who turned out to be a pedophile still sneaks in.  That is one of the many reasons I started blogging.  When I was going through this I could not find anyone who could truly relate.  I could not find anyone who was going through exactly what I was experiencing.  I still haven't.  I have found some common ground, some similar situations, but no one who says, "I, too, was married to a pedophile."

I wanted to bring my story out of the shadows.  I wanted to be open with it so that maybe, if there was someone else out there dealing with similar issues, they would feel less shame.  I wanted to get it out there so that it did not have any more power over me.

I am really looking forward to seeing what Mandy takes from my story and how she presents it.  And I am holding my breath a little too....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Day of School

My kiddo started 2nd grade this week.  The start of school is exciting:  new supplies, new school shoes, new teacher, new classmates - lots of stuff to look forward to.  As an only parent this time of year used to remind me how different our family was from others.  I would see all the moms and dads and siblings and would be painfully aware that we were a family of two.  It would make me feel a bit lonely and sad.

But this year was different.  It has been five years since my son and I have been a family of two.  This year I was struck by how big he is, how smart he is, how well adjusted he is and how happy we are.  I am proud of all that we have been through and that we were able to get to this point.  I also found myself being incredibly grateful for our larger family of relatives, friends, teachers, etc. who bring such joy into our lives.

I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but I am feeling very thankful for all the blessings in my life right now!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Remembrance and forgiveness...

Going back to the island was not at all what I had expected.  The time that has passed and the healing I have done allowed me to see things with new eyes.  There were still memories, but they were soft and gentle and kind of faded into the background.  It felt like a new place, just like I have been feeling like a new person over the last few months.

I told my son about my intention to have a small remembrance ceremony for his dad.  He did not quite feel the need, but wanted to be a part of it.  Our first morning, we went to the rocky beach where I had picked up a stone on my first trip to the island in 1996.  On the rock I wrote, “I forgive you,” and I wrapped it in paper with the following quote, which I also read aloud.
"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past.  A healed memory is not a deleted memory.  Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember.  We change the memory of the past into a hope for our future. (Lewis B. Smedes)
My son and I had a nice talk about forgiveness, why it is important and how hard it can be to forgive someone who has hurt you.  We also talked about the symbolism of rocks and water.  Rocks with hard rough edges can represent anger and grief and the tough thing that we go through in life.  The water can represent time and the work that we do to heal.  As the water flows over the rocks, the edges are smoothed and can represent our healing.  [This is all adapted from a rock ceremony I use in grief support groups and remembrance services.  I do not remember it’s actual source]  We both held the rock for a few moments and then I threw it into the water.

Then we searched for another rock to help us remember our trip to the island and the beginning of new memories for my son and I.  While my son was searching, I took some private time to say a prayer and some lines of a song.  I also tried to light a candle which does not work well on a windy island shoreline and resulted in nice fingertip burn.  Tears flowed, not because of the burn, but because I was finally able to say goodbye and let go in a symbolic way, which is something I really needed to do since we were not included in his funeral.  I was able to cry for the man I loved.  I was also able to forgive the man who betrayed me and left my child without a father.  The tears were cleansing and did not last long.

Once my son and I found the “perfect rock” to represent our trip to the island we left the shoreline to begin our vacation.  We had a great time making tons of new memories over the next two days.  The last place we visited before we left the island was that same rocky beach.  It was not planned, my kiddo just wanted to play in the water and collect more rocks (a lot more - carried home in MY backpack!), but it brought things full circle.  I feel more settled than I have in years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

forgiveness

Today, my son and I leave for a three day vacation on a Lake Erie island.  This place was very special to me during my courtship and marriage to my husband.  It holds a lot of memories of our life and our love.  It holds no bad memories of his betrayal.

Today, my son and I will travel the same waters; walk on the same shoreline; sit on the same beach.  We will talk about forgiveness, about moving forward from painful things in our past.  We will light a candle in his memory.  We will return a stone to the island, that I had picked up on the beach the first time I was there.  We will choose another stone to take home to represent the beginning of new memories.

Today, I will take my engagement ring and wedding band and cleanse it in the soft waters of the lake.  I hope to change how I look at this beautiful diamond - no longer as a representation of our marriage, but as a symbol of the amazing child that we were blessed with and I have the honor of raising, nurturing and loving every day.

Today, there will be forgiveness, healing and moving forward.  Another step on my everyday journey.
"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past.  A healed memory is not a deleted memory.  Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember.  We change the memory of the past into a hope for our future. (Lewis B. Smedes)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

another step on my journey

Single woman
Engaged
Married
Mommy
Working Mom
Betrayed wife
Divorcee
Single mom
Only Parent

So many labels....but there is one role that there is not a label for.  The divorced woman whose ex-husband commits suicide.  It is a strange category. 

His death was shocking and so incredibly sad.  I tried to imagine how low he would be to take his own life - to feel that there was no other option.  I don't have words for how it feels when I think of him at the point.  His death began a period of grief for me that was unexpected.  I grieved the man I married, the man I loved, the man I brought a child into this world with.

His death was also a relief.  The man he had become was a stranger.  He was a threat to my mental health.  He was a possible threat to our safety and I had to warn every teacher, school, day care provider about him  I worried about how my son would deal with having an absent father in the future.  I thought about people that my ex might hurt in the future and knew I was powerless to do anything to stop it.  His death freed me from those concerns.

So I was grieving the death of my husband, but I was not a widow.  I was an woman with a dead ex-husband.  No label for that.  No rules for how you should feel.  I did not attend his funeral.  I was not notified about his death until afterwards.  I did not get to say goodbye.  But who would I say goodbye to?  The man I loved had been lost years ago and in his place was a very sick man, an addict, a pedophile.  We were better off without him in many ways.  But still I grieved.  Such conflicting emotions.

Next week my son and I will take a three day vacation to a local island that had been very special to my husband and I.  It was our place and I have not been back there without him.  I am going there to make new memories with my son.  I also plan to try to find a way to say goodbye while I am there.  I am not sure how.  I am not sure if I will tell my son.  But it's time.