Taking Off The Mask

So…how are you?

Let me guess, you’re good…

Am I right?

Isn’t that the standard answer?

But are you really?…good, that is. Is that the truth? Or is that just something we say to either get out of a conversation or to be polite? Or maybe we just don’t want to talk about it because in all honesty, if we told the truth about how we really are doing, people would either A: not really care or B: not really be willing or even able to help the situation; so why bother, right? So you’re just “good”. Just like I’m “good”. We’re all “good”.

If I’m being completely honest with you, lately I haven’t been all that “good”. I smile and try to be as joyful as possible in any particular situation. Sometimes it’s genuine and sometimes I’m faking it until the moment passes. For example, yesterday (Saturday) I had a bit of a sob fest and today (Sunday) I walked into church wearing a cheery, flowery sundress, shiny silver heels and a smile on my face, greeting everyone who said hi. No one would have known that just the previous day I was having a hard time and crying at my kitchen table after a conversation with my ex husband. After 10 years of being divorced he still somehow manages to be able to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and ball my eyes out. Those are some serious skills…a very special set of skills (said in Liam Neeson’s voice). These types of conversations/crying sessions have especially escalated over the past 7 months.

I chose not to discuss my ex husband in my writings at first for a couple of reasons: #1 I didn’t want to give him any amount of spotlight or attention because I felt he wasn’t worth my time. #2 I didn’t want to talk about what I was going through over the last few months for my children’s sake, to protect them. I don’t tell them everything that has or is going on with their father and me. And #3 I didn’t want to come across as hateful or petty. I needed time to calm down and to be able to write rationally, with a clear head. And I’ve already been learning so much from this experience that I believe could finally start to be helpful to others. Having said that, I have also come to realize that by me not talking about it and keeping it all to myself is actually making it worse for me, not better. So I’ve made the decision to talk about it. It won’t be every time of course. There are other wonderful aspects in life that are much more delightful to write about than my current, temporary situation. But when it’s needed, I’m giving myself permission to write it down. Not to be petty or spiteful but as part of the healing process and in hopes that it will help and encourage others as well.

For those of you who are relatively new to my world/blog, you may have missed some of the details. Allow me to give you the “Coles Notes” version to get you up to speed. You can also go back into my archives and start from the beginning. My ex husband and I share 2 children. 2 boys, aged 15 and the younger will be 14 this month. We separated/divorced 10 years ago and the boys have lived with me full time during the entire time. On a Friday evening, late November, 2017, the boys went to their fathers as usual for their weekend with him. That same night, I got a phone call from my ex husband stating that the boys wanted to live with him (and his girlfriend) and that they wouldn’t be coming home. To make a long story shorter and for the sakes of time, the boys fully moved out that same weekend, have been living with him for the past 7 months and my ex husband and I are now going to court over this situation and other aspects relating to it.

Needless to say I was absolutely devastated. Not just the fact that I no longer had my children in my home, but also because of the way it was done. Without my knowledge or consent. It felt like such a betrayal and just unbelievable that my own children would go along with something like this. I love them so much but I still don’t believe it. Which is why I guess it hurts so much.

During the first few weeks alone in my house I’m not sure how to describe what I felt. It was a mixture of feeling numb, betrayed, hurt, lonely, sad, depressed, and boredom. (When you go from being a full time single mom to a completely empty house, the silence is…strange. And almost deafening. I went from having a busy routine to just looking after myself. It’s like I’ve been going through “empty nest syndrome” but 5 years prematurely. Because of all of the emotions I was going through I didn’t contact the boys for the first 20 days or so. Something my ex husband verbally attacked me on numerous times and still brings up on occasion. I honestly didn’t know what to say or how to say it or where to even begin having a conversation. I was hurt, depressed and so angry and I wanted to be careful not to take my emotions out on my kids that were really directed towards my ex husband. I also didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of getting into an argument over it and seeing me as upset as I was. I needed space. A whole lot of it.

When I finally felt I had a bit of my emotional bearings in check, I finally reached out to my children and wanted to spend the Christmas holidays with them. My ex allowed me to have a couple of days but not the entire week. He said that the boys really didn’t want to see me or spend an entire week with me and so I had no other choice but to accept the couple days over the holidays that I had with them. Ever since then, until now, I have slowly started to talk to the boys and to try to spend time with them. It hasn’t been easy. They have spent the night only 3 times in the last 7 months and I’m lucky if they agree to come over at all.

The conversations are usually the same, me asking how they are, how school is, how’s life. Anything new? Asking (which usually turns into begging) them to come over so I can see them. That is, when they actually want to talk to me over the phone at all. Their school schedule and my work schedule are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum so I call them on average once a week to check in, sometimes twice. Something that my ex husband regularly throws in my face. He thinks I don’t call them enough. Just yesterday he called me a ‘deadbeat’ for not calling more than once a week. And after all that I’ve done for my children, singlehandedly. That comment did it. After he hung up, the dam broke and out came the gut wrenching waterworks. But when my children have been taken from my home in the manor that they were and for the past 7 months when I’m told on a regular basis that my children don’t want to either talk to me or spend time with me, after awhile of hearing that, (among other comments) it can wear anybody down. While I love my children more than I can say and that I believe that my relationship with them will be fully restored one day, I can honestly say that at this point I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted. It’s even affected my social life. I just haven’t been my normal social butterfly self. My family and only a couple of friends have been able to coax me out of hiding over the past while. To which I am grateful. It helps.

But let me say this, to anyone who is hurting and wondering if they’re ever going to make it out. You will! Everybody’s healing process is different. No two look the same. And remember, the person that does the breaking (them) doesn’t get to tell the person that has to do the healing (you), how they’re allowed to heal. I’ll say it again: “You do not get to tell me how to heal from something that you broke!”

It will take time. It will take guts. It will take work. It will take falling and getting back up again…many times. It will take tears. It will take more strength than you thought you ever had. It will take choosing Joy when it’s the last thing you want to do. It will take letting go. But one day you’re going to surprise yourself and the thing that was meant to break you will one day become your cornerstone. The building blocks that will eventually make up who you are meant to be. It will be the reason for your strength. The reason for your drive. The reason for your compassion for others.
Go on and take off the mask. Go ahead and heal. Do whatever it takes. Just make sure it’s done well. Make sure the healing is complete. Because when it is, there won’t be any stopping you.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”~Romans 8:31