Broken Family, Broken Heart

Infidelity family

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.

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18 thoughts on “Broken Family, Broken Heart

  1. Oh Leigh. Damn. I have no words. Except believe. Believe in yourself and the path you have chosen. I believe in you. I believe you are doing the right thing.

    It is one of those moments where you wish you could undo all of the protection and lay bare who he really was. But you can’t, because you did such a great job of propping him up in your kids’ eyes. Now it just seems like sour grapes. Hold tight. This will pass – painfully – but things must get better. I hate that the kids can’t see your perspective – yet xxx.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl…I try to make every day a good day…(don’t we all?)…it just doesn’t always work in spite of our best efforts. But not to try is….? What? Giving in, calling it quits, losing the battle…I don’t know, but I’m not willing to go down that road. Like all of us, I am taking it day by day. Thanks to the encouragement of this little community, I am feeling the love and support I need to keep on with my course and get through this crap. *hugs*

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  2. You just wrote what narcissism does to a family. Your children will do what they want, think what they think. Let them. You have a whole life ahead of you. If your girls manage their lives in positive ways then you did a good job. Here I am a lapsed Episcopalian quoting TD Jakes but I love his religious philosophy. He says if someone walks away from you let them go. There is nothing else you can do. Just let go. Heal yourself.
    I have a wonderful friend whose four children have been her rocks….until one stopped communicating. The other three are as mystified as she. No amount of phone calls, texts or emails have gotten to the bottom of it. She said she has no control and has chosen friends and the other children to find genuine happiness in her life. The reality is we have no control over other people. They make their own choices.
    Your children are trying to manipulate you. They have a master at it to emulate. Just say “no” and disengage. Your health depends on it.
    If you feel lonely then compare that to what you felt all these years. Loneliness is often time to heal.
    I am sending you hugs. Please tak care of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! This is exactly the safety plan I have in place moving forward. The Serenity Prayer has been extremely helpful the last couple of days. I am trying to be brave enough to make changes. I am letting go of the things I cannot change. I am grateful for my therapists who are helping me gain the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you Carheart! Xoxo

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  3. Please read. Chump Lady blog today. I think it is right down your alley. These are people who have done lived the same hell you are going through. They are so good at being friends because they “know”

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  4. I’m so sorry Leigh. I can’t imagine how hard all this is. You have done your job. You have raised your children to be self sufficet adults. You have protected everyone and put everyone before you. It is time now for you to protect yourself and take care of yourself first. We all do the bag we can by our chosen but none of us know how the outcome will turn out. You’re a good woman through and through and it’s time you put you ahead of all this. You’re an adult and you made your decision based on your experience. No one has a right to minimize that or tell you what is best for you! They need to respect your decision. They may not like it but they don’t get to take your choices away from you! Hugs Leigh- you will look back one day and truly marvel at your strength!

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  5. You’re in a life boat heading for shore…..if your children want to jump in and ride along to survival with you, great……if not, wave to them as you paddle by. Go Sista Go.

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  6. I haven’t been on WP much lately. Reading about once a week now, so a little behind. Stay strong. Focus on you. Everything else will have to wait. Total understanding here for what you have done for your family and big hugs of support for what you are doing for yourself. ❤

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  7. Oh Leigh,

    I’m so sorry. This is the first post of yours I’ve read, so I hope my thoughts here are not completely off-base.

    I’m heartbroken for you. I do wonder if they are taking out their disappointment and anger on you, because you are the “safe” parent. It is sad for you no doubt! I would just keep the refrain “I WAS a victim but am no longer. I will no longer be victimized.”

    Truly loving someone means wanting them to have a healthy, loving life. No doubt you want that for your children, that is clear. Perhaps you even want that for your husband, but that doesn’t mean you can live with him, stay married to him.

    Part of truly loving is to truly love yourself by living a healthy, loving life. If they want to be a part of that, they know you are there. They don’t know that about their Dad. He has shown he is not safe in that way. I know they are adults, but just keep modeling what it means to live that healthy, loving life. Keep modeling that truly loving does not mean sacrificing your safety and sanity in the process.

    Sending you hugs, just lots of hugs.

    TL xx

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