Today, my grades for my first quarter of my doctoral program posted and I received a 4.0. I was just numb when I saw them, & seeing them led me to post for #FBF. If anyone had told me when my ex-husband deserted us 7 years ago how drastically my life and my kids’ lives would change, I would have never believed them.
Some remember how broken I was back then, and I’m not flashing back for sympathy, but instead to give others hope. To say this has been an easy journey to where I’m currently headed would be a lie, but no one ever promised achieving one’s dreams would be easy. I even debated on posting a photo of me way back then. It brought me to tears seeing that person I was, but what made it even harder was seeing how young my kids were then.
No child should have to experience the kind of pain my three kids did. I am so proud of the young adults they have become despite the suffering that was inflicted upon us. It’s great to celebrate our triumphs, but it also keeps me humble to look back to where I started. But I do love that I am not that broken woman anymore and I am so grateful for the incredible people who have come into our lives since then.
I will probably be screaming from the roof tops the day I walk across the stage and I receive my doctorate, but despite all the incredible opportunities that have come into our lives, I still cannot help but wish that one day that my oldest son could see that I am no longer that sad, broken woman, and wish he would want to know the woman I have become. Because I know this woman is a good person and I am proud of her, and while continuing on this journey, I will never forget everyone who has lifted me and my kids up and I will always continue to pay it forward. Happy Friday everyone and remember ‘Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’ ~ Mary Anne Radmacher.
I can’t help on Mother’s Day to reflect back on my life as a mom. I see all of the messages on the internet to the best moms ever. Can we all be the best moms ever? With all of the dysfunction in the world, do people really believe this? I know I do. I think moms get a bad rap. If a child messes up, the mom is always at fault. I never hear in a news story, what kind of dad did they have? Yes, today we celebrate the moms in the world, but it seems the rest of the days in the year, we blame them for everything that goes wrong.
I know I live with my own guilt as a mom for the mistakes I made as my children were growing up. I have “two” amazing children. Everyone is always complementing me on what a great mom I am because of my “two” special children. But I always wonder if my daughter and son are a reflection of my parenting than what kind of parent do others think I am when they learn I have a third child? He hasn’t spoke to me in over a year and continuously blames me for everything wrong in his life. Even though, his father was abusive and I fought to get us away from him, his dad is who he wants in his life. This torments me daily. No matter how many successes I achieve, it’s always in the back of my mind, is my older son right about me? Am I the terrible person he says I am? Am I a failure as a parent or the wonderful parent my other two children say I am?
Recently, I was given a glimpse into my ex-husband’s new life. He’s remarried with a one-year old son, and has three thriving businesses. He’s the toast of his new town. Since he left, all of his professional dreams have come true; maybe even his personal ones. It’s been seven years since I filed for a restraining order, and I too, have had my own successes. I was awarded 100% custody and have gone on to receive not one, but two Bachelor’s degrees and a minor, and in a few weeks will have my Master’s degree, and in the fall will begin my doctoral program. I have watched my two younger children grow into amazing, thriving, independent, loving young adults. We have lived in sketchy places and had to scrape every dollar together to survive, but we have done it all while at the same time trying to be the best, honest persons we can be.
So if my ex and I have managed to be happier apart, maybe the common variable in the equation of our destruction was me? That scenario plays in my head daily; after all, my older son still blames me for the demise of our family. But for the first time, I decided to use my critical thinking skills I acquired in college. I decided to trace the paths of my ex and myself since we split away. My path has been hard work and hard choices. I have worked as hard as I could to make a better life for me and my kids. Being their sole parent, I strive to be the best role model I can; not only have I worked to be an advocate for people in domestic violence situations, but an advocate for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s been a rough seven years, and it may be another three or four before I receive my doctorate, but I can say I traveled this path with my head held high and without hurting others in order to travel down it. I have actually tried my best to uplift others along the way. My journey wouldn’t hold as much value if I wasn’t striving to pay it forward as I headed down it.
As for my ex, he continues to avoid his financial responsibilities he left behind, and may be in his one son’s life, but he has moved on as if the other two children never existed. He has lied to his current business partners and community about his true identity and the path of destruction he left behind along with the mounds of debt. He even attempted to file bankruptcy on child support and alimony. He has all of his businesses in other people’s names, so that he doesn’t have to pay more for his children he deserted. He even lied to the judge and said he was dying of Colon Cancer. He’s committed tax and bankruptcy fraud; yet, no one calls him out on his bad deeds. He may seem professionally and personally like he has it all, but I have to wonder if he lies asleep at night wondering if he will ever be found out. What if his one-year old son finds out that he has a long lost brother and sister? What will he tell him? I doubt it will be the truth. He doesn’t know what the truth looks like. He is known in his community to be this incredible engineer and fabricator; yet, he never went to college nor graduated from high school. I am not putting him down for not going to college; I married him knowing that. What I hate is how he lies about who he is. What if his designs that people are buying, due to his engineering background, are faulty? Who takes the fall for that? Him? Or his business partners who have taken all the financial risk and have staked their reputations on his background that they never checked into? If his past speaks for itself, he won’t stick around to be accountable.
The best part of my look into my past, is that yes, it’s been a tough seven years, but I can sleep at night. I know that I am a good person, not a perfect person, but a good person. I no longer have to look over my shoulder due to his abuse and lies. I decided to take another path; yet, seeing who he is now, I know that his character and moral values have stayed the same. I am grateful to be free of him; I am grateful two of my children are safe from him as well. Yet, should I still beat myself up for the 24 year old son who chooses my ex over me? I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss my son and am hurt by it, but on the other hand, how long do we let others punish us for decisions we made years ago? I didn’t know his dad was an abuser when I met him or I wouldn’t have married him. Do I think it affected how good a mother I was at the time? Most definitely. Did I continue to be that person and bury my head in the sand after leaving his father? No! I left and I fought for three years to keep my kids safe.
I have worked extremely hard to build a life built on ethics and love. I have been in counseling with my children and apologized for not leaving sooner. I will be haunted by the memories of that man forever, but I am proud that I took a stand and left. We have struggled to make ends meet, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel and am grateful for the friends I have made along the way. I am proud of the woman/mom I have become and have decided today is the day that I give myself a Mother’s Day present – that present is forgiveness and permission to start this day and every day after, loving myself for the woman I am and finally walking away from the woman I was in my marriage. She no longer exists. If my oldest son cannot move into the future with the woman I have worked, long and hard, to become, and let go of the woman I was then, he will have to deal with that. I know my truth and am proud of who I am. I will always love my oldest son, but I cannot ever allow abuse and degradation ever back into my life, so until he can do that too, I will have to love him from afar. Today is the day that I love myself, forgive myself, shut the door on the past, and embrace the new life that awaits; my children deserve it, my friends and family who have supported me deserve it, and last, but not least, I deserve it! Happy Mother’s Day to the woman I am and to the children who have been waiting patiently for this day – I love you – always and forever!