March 13, 2017

The Wound of Misunderstanding

Sad. That's how I feel. I wish I had the analogy I have now, when I went out for dinner and a walk with a woman I know. We talked about marriage and divorce and families and children. She struggled when I told her I had severe postpartum and major depression (Is any depression not severe?) when my sons were younger, such that I let their Dad be the primary caretaker when we got divorced. (Today they are grown and on their own.) She asked if I ever regretted my decision.

At the time, the question felt in-congruent, but I couldn't find the words to discuss it with her. Time has brought me insight. Regret? No, I didn't and don't regret my decision in the sense that I wished I never made it or I thought I was wrong for having made it. I knew it was the best arrangement for my sons. I did grieve however, for the lost time we could have had if I were healthier back then. I still feel it today at times. The emotional "I wish it could be different [for all of us]," but when I return to the rational version of that, it helps keep me grounded.

The woman with whom I was walking asked me if I had to do it all over again, would I make the same decision. I think my answer was hard for her to hear. She is a very protective and high energy type of Mom. My answer to her question was, "Yes, if everything was the same, and I was battling major depression such that I was incapacitated to take care of even myself - and my former husband was reliable, loving, caring, present, and put our children first, and did a wonderful job to include me in our sons' lives, like my former husband did - I would do it all over again."

I was incapacitated in ways that still bring tears to my eyes. Not being able to care for my sons due to major depression is like not being able to care for one's children due to cancer and undergoing the debilitating procedure of chemotherapy. It just can't be done without some level of neglect occurring, and I wish I could have conveyed that to this woman. Unfortunately, I think she left our visit judging me for what she thought was my choice to harm my sons by not choosing to let their Dad be the primary custodial parent. If only I knew the cancer analogy at the time.

I didn't give up everything in the divorce. I maintained and stayed responsible for the joint legal and physical custody I signed up for. My former husband and I lived quite a distance from each other, such that our set up was very similar to one parent having primary custody. Naturally, most people would assume it is the mother who has that. In this day of diversity and equal rights. one would think I would not have experienced judgment by others, but that's not true. Thankfully, more people have comforted and consoled me in my situation than have case me aside. They gave me room to grow and to heal and to internalize everything. Many professionals were also tremendous sources of help. I cannot thank them enough for having gone beyond the call of duty over the years.

So no, I do not regret my decisions, but I certainly grieve the losses associated with them.

Thankfully, Jesus is the ultimate Consoler, Advocate, and Judger, who is available to us all. If I knew about joining my suffering, and to the extent I could, joining the suffering of my children and former husband, to His salvific suffering on the Cross, I would have gone to him in prayer for that. Now I do go, and I carry any residual forward.

You can go too. Besides, what better use is there for one's suffering?

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