Divorce, at its most basic, is the loss of a dream.
It takes some of us a very long time, sometimes forever, to figure out that what we miss is not a person. Usually, when divorce occurs, the person we so admired is long gone. In his or her place is someone changed. Or perhaps it is us who has done the changing.
When you lose a person, he or she is just gone. And after time goes by, that sinks in. There is an empty spot in the bed or at the dining room table. It hurts like hell but you eventually must accept it or be deemed insane, chattering incessantly with someone who is no longer there. Instead, the sane among us turn to exclaim over a twist in a book or movie plot—and we stop ourselves short, realizing our other half is no longer there to comment.
When you lose a dream, unless you’re very diligent about putting it to bed in your mind—the illusion of that dream can live forever. Because you can easily think—what if? Maybe . . . Surely . . .
And all of those non sequiturs lead to dead ends.
I have been in survival mode for so long. Financial survival mode, first and foremost. Trying to keep my house, keep my children in the gifted school they attend, put food on the table. It is exhausting. And yet, I know so many of us do it. I am lucky. Degrees, talents, skills—all back me up.
Emotions tend to take a back seat when you’re working long hours and dealing with the practical realities of raising a family on your own.
But now, I’ve taken my children to visit family out east. And so, for a few days, bills and putting dinner on the table are not top of mind. We relax. We play. We are fed and chauffeured around. All of it good, sweet fun.
And yet, I feel the realizations creeping into the recesses of my mind.
I watch my sister and her husband, who have built a home their children can visit. I see holidays together, barbecues in the backyard, memories shared.
These were part of my dream for my kids. I now realize the memories shared, as a complete family, will be few for my youngest. His memories will be of a fractured family. I try very hard to create memories with the three of us—and I know he will love those. But the fractured dream hurts. For me and for them.
It is the loss of a dream. I know scores of people go through far worse.
But it hurts, nonetheless. I believe it was Kurt Vonnegut who penned: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been.’”
I think it is time to emerge from survival mode. If I can. Because when my children fly away into their own adult lives over the next decade, I do not want the remnants of a dream long gone to haunt me.
I thought the hurt was over. Yet it keeps coming back in tiny pinpricks, all over my life.
I realize that while I wonder where I would put someone in my life, and if I even want to have to worry about being part of a partnership again, I also love the softness that comes from a supportive backbone at home.
I was raised with family as the cornerstone. My family is far from perfect and at times drives me to the brink of sanity, but they’re there. We are a unit, like it or not.
It is hard to wake up every morning as the cornerstone of my own kids’ family unit. I am happy to be here, but truthfully, I do not always feel up to the task.
There are days I am distracted by deadlines, looming tuition bills, home repairs and the myriad daily worries of most single moms. There are evenings I cannot find the time to put a home-cooked meal on the table and I honestly would be happy with a piece of fruit. There are times I am just plain exhausted.
When you emerge from this gaping hole, this nuclear impact at the center of your life, you bring your new vision to the fore.
I am not there yet. But I think I may, at some point, find softness again. Find the time and patience to learn another’s rhythms.
I am emerging, I realize. Ever so slowly. And I reserve the right to retreat back into my shell.
Some of us take longer to heal than others. Some of us do not wear our heart on our sleeve. I cannot stand the constant questioning at times. “Are you dating?” “Have you met anyone?”
If you can dismiss your own heartbreak so lightly, so be it.
I run a bit deeper. Blessing and a curse.
I will know when it is time to emerge fully. And I will not be rushed.