Monday, October 18, 2010

Not As I Pictured

I saw an incredible documentary this weekend...Not As I Pictured by John Kaplan.  You can see more about it here.  John is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who is also a lymphoma survivor.  He documented his cancer journey in this film.  There is a lot that I loved about the film, but one thing in particular reminded me a lot of my own life.  The film began with pivotal points in his adult life:  falling in love, a wedding, the adoption of a child, the birth of a second child.  On the screen appeared 3 pictures (one of each event) and then the words "As I Pictured."  As the pictures faded, they were replaced with NOT...and the now dark screen read "NOT As I Pictured."

How many of our lives HAVE turned out as we pictured they would?  I would venture to guess that very few people would fall into that category.  Not everyone's life involves a trauma but most people don't have storybook "just as I pictured" lives.  Those of us who are single parents often did not picture our lives this way.  We probably had storybook images of mom and dad in love, loving and raising children and then growing old together.  Even though we probably all have lists of what we would like to change, I expect that most of us would not trade our single parenthood for anything - just because of the wonderful joy brought into our lives by our children.  I know it is kind of cliche.  But for me it is worth remembering.


  1. I could have never pictured my life as it is today. It is broken and lacks direction. I too found out my husband was a pedofile while using my family computer. Life has never been the same since. My story is a long one... and there are times I just can't get over my anger that he has not only gotten away with it, he got the house, his income has gone well into 6 figures, and he gets to live in a total state of denial.
    I can hold my head high that I did everything the right way, just like you. I told myself no matter what I was feeling - make decisions in the best interest of my kids and retain my ability to look in the mirror and know that I didn't let the pain make me strike out or do anything stupid. I can be proud I didn't dip my toe into the dark abyss that my ex-husband created. It is not easy. I waffle back n forth between hoping the counciling he got (so it looked good for the divorce) actually worked, and hoping that one day I open the paper to find he has been arrested and labeled for the whole world to see. This thought is fleeting though because I can take anything after what I've been through - I just hate the thought that my kids would have to live through the public scrutiny that I fought so hard to keep them from. And of course wishing he was arrested would involve pain to another innocent child.

    It has been 13 years. I am surviving but far from thriving. I trust no one, and realize I need to find some kind of support group so I can feel there is someone somewhere who can relate.

    Thank you for your blog. It's the first thing I found that truly made me feel like someone could understand.

  2. Anonymous -
    I am so glad you left a comment. I am so sorry that we have this in common, but I am glad you found some "comfort" in this blog. I remember searching for someone who had been through something like me and finding no one. That was my main purpose in starting this blog. As I read your words, my heart hurt...we seem to have shared many emotions. If you want to talk more, please message me.

  3. the blog is great.. like you said there are few out there who can relate... and fewer who know what to say or believe when you gather the guts to actually say it out loud. Then throw in the reality that I spent years having a home-based daycare, then worked for the Y as a preschool teacher, and then for a local game preserve as a teacher - It has all shaken me to the core to think that I lived with this creature who could harm the very children I was entrusted with?? My only saving grace was that he didn't fit the typical profile. He didn't enjoy kids (yep.. real irony) not even his own. Actually, he avoided them (and people in general)at all cost. It is this reality that has allowed me to maintain any small thread of sanity! I can only think now that he knew his own tendencies and it wasn't until the internet came into the picture that allowed him to sit in the darkness of our home office and "entertain" his addiction. In speaking with a councelor, I learned that there are different levels of pedofilia and some may just stick to pictures in cyberspace, but I can't get past the fact that there are still innocent children being harmed in order to get those pictures out in cyberspace!
    I think the most difficult thing left is that he is soooo thriving - especially financially. His initial reaction when caught was fear, then quickly went into taking steps to make it look like he was doing the right thing. Per his attorney's advice, he went to therapy, but refused to turn the receipts into his health insurance because he didnt want a paper trail. he was afraid someone at work would find out. From there it went into an extreme state of denial and then true arrogance. He knew I would keep his secret for the sake of my kids. They were 17 & 21 at the time. On my councelor's advice I had to sit with my daughter and explain why her dad was suddenly living in a hotel, and then ask if he had ever done anything to her.. it was devastating! I then had to sit with him and my daughter while he explained that he had a problem and was going to get help. I later spoke to my son, whom I believe may have known what was going on ( he was very savvy on the computer) due to his almost nonchelant response to it all.
    Our family has never been the same since. I am very close with my daughter but am alienated from my son and grandchildren. He has withdrawn from the entire family, except for his sister - which I am grateful for. At least they have each other.
    I am working on my resentment because I know it has caused me to stagnate and still gives him an unentitled power over my life. It's struggle but a battle I won't give up.