Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy. I think that it is pretty likely that each day we hold things in our heart, and sometimes these things become incredibly heavy. But also choosing to carry grace sure lightens that load.
It was on this day that my kids lost their dad forever. It was years before that though they also lost him. I realize that he did the best he knew how to do. It wasn’t ideal by any means, but he did what he knew. And that is okay.
I choose grace. I choose to hold my head up high. I choose to look at my grown kids and know that the load I have carried for years was worth every single ounce. My kids are remarkable people and that makes the load all worthwhile.
Someone recently asked me how I got to the point in my process of being able to choose to forgive. And to let go. Well let me first say it wasn’t always easy and there are still times when those feelings of anger or disappoint bubble up, but I try really hard to not allow those heavy feelings to take over. I did a couple years of therapy and I dove into working on myself which invited me to not spend my waking hours fuming about what I didn’t get and instead look at what may have been my part in it all and to be able to learn about perspective.
Divorce takes a little bit of your heart regardless of how amicable it is. Co-parenting may seem like a great idea, but the truth is finding common ground that works for the kids is even harder when you have two households working. It wasn’t many months after my divorce and my three little kids and I were no longer receiving child support. He didn’t think he needed to and so he chose not to. He also chose to have his visits with the kids shorter and few and far between. The raising of the kids landed solely on my shoulders. It wasn’t just the daily grind, but the big picture things that one parent should never be completely responsible for if the other parent is capable. Or so I used to think.
Maybe he wasn’t capable. Maybe he had no idea how to think beyond himself. Maybe his own heart was shattered and he couldn’t access the part of himself to step up. Who knows.
Within a few years he began to slip into a slow, horrific self-inflicted slow death. He chose to neglect himself. He chose horrible things to do to his body. He chose to give up. Or so I used to think.
Maybe he didn’t know how. Maybe he had something inside him preventing him to get and allow help. Maybe he just couldn’t.
I think about my own father in much the same way. Something in him was missing and he wasn’t able to to plug into being a part of my life. Maybe it was his own addiction or his own beliefs that he had. Maybe he never had a father step up in his own childhood. Maybe he didn’t know how.
When someone asks me how I arrived in a place of peace about my kid’s dad (or my own dad), my simplest answer is that I got tired of allowing all of that pain to take up residence in my heart and preventing me from allowing something much better into my heart, like love. I realized that they both probably never had a father that stuck around. I was able to step back and see that my former husband was a young man with a tremendous amount of responsibility and perhaps he simply could not do it. He was giving all he had to his little family that eventually crumbled in front of him, and maybe it broke him.
I chose to see my father as a lost little boy who had no real father to speak of and an abusive mom. No wonder he was disconnected.
I replaced the feelings of anger and disappointment with compassion and love. Then it was really simple to carry on with a little lighter load in my heart. Being able to do that certainly doesn’t lighten the heaviness of raising three people alone and the huge responsibility that I had, but somehow having a heart full of compassion rather than pain, I was able to move forward and feel good about myself and my kids.
Maybe I will be an example for them.