Before I went to inpatient I was struggling so hard to maintain my happy self. I made sure to put on my happy face for my kids and grandkids because I knew they were hurting. Despite my devastation, I was trying to be strong for everyone because that is what I have always done. For the most part, I think I did pretty well. Until I didn’t.
I have done my best to protect my kids my whole life. They do not know about my abusive father…not the extent. They don’t know about the beatings, the belt, the rages, the bruises and welts and scars. They don’t know that their dear little white-haired grandma stood by and let it happen…not to her two other children..she held them close to protect them while only I was being “disciplined.” They love their grandma and never knew their abusive grandpa. That’s how it should be. They remember that I was gone a lot when they were little. They don’t remember that I was gone because I worked three jobs to pay for Will’s gambling debts and to put food on the table for them. I didn’t know at that time that gambling wasn’t his only addiction. They don’t remember when Will’s alcoholism turned him into a blackout drunk and he became violent. They thought that I was just clumsy and fell down the stairs and broke my ribs, or tripped and fell into the wall getting a black eye etc.. They think that sometimes they were woken late at night because their dad was just being loud and silly because he was in a good mood–that’s what I told them. They don’t remember when Will got courts martialled and lost rank (for the second time) that our family was made fun of and then pitied, and that my business suffered and I lost the trust of people I had known for a long time. Guilt by association. They don’t know about all the years of emotional abandonment, neglect, gaslighting, shame, humiliation, guilt, belittlement and degradation Will had perpetrated on me behind closed doors. They have never needed to know. They don’t need to remember. I shielded them from all of that. I did my job as their mom and I did what my parents did not do for me….I protected them. I provided a happy, mostly carefree childhood and happy memories for them.
And now….it has come back to haunt me. Because they don’t know, they don’t like the real me. This me that is broken and struggling and so very hurt. They don’t want to be around me. They can’t understand the humanity of the mother they knew to be so strong and who took care of everyone and everything. They don’t want to understand. What they understand is that I am leaving Will when he is sad and struggling and working so hard to overcome his addiction. None of which is his fault. I am not given the space I need to cry or be upset or, let’s face it, shattered. If I want that space, I have to be away from them. They cannot be around me. They can’t handle me being “sad.” My oldest daughter sent me a text the other night. Out of the blue…I hadn’t spoken to her since the day I got back from AZ. I can only guess that she found out from Will that I was going thru with the divorce.
“Mom, I love you. You are my mother. But I cannot and will not allow you to be victimized vs. being a victim. There is survivorship and there is resiliency. You have a choice. Even if you don’t know how yet, you get to choose. As long as you continue choosing being completely innocent in all things, being merely a survivor, and continually victimized, I cannot continue a relationship with you. Forgive the text…it is my only safe option.”
Yeah…so. I tried to find out what she expects from me, but of course, then I was accused of being confrontational and not listening. She hung up on me. I can only assume that my daughters have seen that I am no longer willing to hide the real Will from them or how his actions have changed me…they are grown women now…and they don’t like it. The fact that I am leaving Will to figure out life on his own has upset them and I am heartless for doing so in their opinion. They believe that they have been hurt by his actions far more than have I…after all, they were cheated out of precious time with him and he lied to them too. Will has hurt his entire family. He has destroyed so much. But the fact is, that HE has done this. I have not done this to my precious family. I was the victim of his infidelity and deceit and his dirty STD…my children were not. The difference is that I WAS a victim but am no longer. I will no longer be victimized…not by my mother, my husband and certainly not by my children. But, I can no longer be responsible for their protection. I now have to protect myself and recover so that I can have a real life. It appears I will be doing so on my own, without the support of the people I love most in the world but I will still do it. I hope that someday my children can love me as unconditionally as I have always loved them. But, if not, I will know that I have loved them and protected them and done the very best that I possibly could for them. I may not be enough for them, but I am enough. I have to be.