No more poignantly does the hurt of divorce become more glaringly exposed than at Christmastime. Let alone all the lit up messages of the yuletide season for love and peace and family that switch on and off in our psyches, it is a time that we naturally reflect upon our lives and what matters as we near the year's end.
The message of family being central with love as the fabric it is woven in, has been at the heart of my soul's focus all my life. My parents and grandparents on both sides clearly established those values from which I direct my understanding that in life what really matters is family. My parents' devotion to me and my siblings instilled in me a sense of belonging and solidarity and it gave me a source of strength of knowing where I came from. At the core of my family growing up were my two parents who, as imperfect as any of us are, were devoted to eachother. I had the luxury of seeing love and commitment, tolerance and a sense of humor, honor and loyalty, compassion and honesty worked out by their example. It's a given that life is not easy, that there are struggles, ups and downs, disappointments, challenges and changes. Through whatever came up, my parents were positive people, they accepted eachother as they were, and they were kind to eachother. They understood and valued family, the very essence of what Christmas is all about.
Divorce dismantles family, and as hard as all of this is for me, I know it is hardest on our three kids. They are just entering young adulthood, grown up enough to understand their father's betrayal of their mother, splitting the family, and logistically and emotionally complicating our lives forever. When a decision is made unilaterally to fill one person's needs in a family the effects are traumatic. Everyone is required to "get over it" and "move on". Suddenly the man I raised my children with, instilling values in them like telling the truth, loyalty, commitment, kindness, family and love is now espousing that "divorce is modern and the kids will get over it."
So Christmas this year, a year after the divorce, has a different reality, not one where we are together as a whole family. I stand alone before my children telling them what matters at Christmas is that we are together which is all I care about. We are not all together though like we were. I am sad for them to have to deal with the "modern" version of Christmas, splitting up the holiday, going back and forth, having the strain of coping with one parents' choices and having to carry the burden of that. It is so unfair for the kids. I wanted so much more for them. I believe in my heart all those values that I raised them with. It was joyful before to have our "struggles" be splitting time with my family and my husband's family over the holidays because that is what Christmas is about, that deep tie to one another is wonderful.
We have to accept now that Christmas no longer is about our family as a whole, all together, celebrating our unity. It is different now that my husband decided to go off with another woman "to discover what love is." As if our romance, the family we built, raising our three wonderful children together, the life we shared, the families we joined, all those moments were not about, love. It is hard for me to sit with our family being pulled apart in the name of "love". Love doesn't do that. Isn't love deeper and kinder, stronger and wiser than that?
I am sorry for our children to have to deal with any of this. I know from friends of divorced parents that the impact of divorce on their lives and relationships is huge and on-going and I know the hurt and loss are always there. As my son said, "Mom, it will make me stronger and I will definitely think twice about divorce."
It's funny how all the sayings we hear when people are trying to make sense of life, do have meaning, like, "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger"; "when one door closes, another opens"; "when you are handed lemons, make lemonade"; "keep calm and carry on". Particularly at Christmas, it's important to "count your blessings." There is so much to be grateful for.
Be the Change.
Love is the Answer.
Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me,
and begin again, we all will.