3.24.2013

Where We're At

A reader posted a comment to the last blog entry, from May 2012, letting me know she'd followed the blog and was hoping the long silence was a good thing.  It's true, I've had a hard time writing here.  The continuity of this blog from pre-traumatic loss to post-traumatic loss is a little uncomfortable for me.  It feels as if it signals that somehow things have just continued on as they were.  Which is not the case.  And writing about our lives now, which is full of more blessings than I can count, somehow also feels disloyal to his memory, as if it diminishes the fact of his loss, the fact that the kids are still, and likely always will be one way or another, receiving professional help to grasp with and process the pain and grief and anger and bewilderment of questions that can never be adequately answered that is brought up by their dad's choice.  And that keeps registering afresh for them over and over again at new levels of maturity and emotional depth as they grow older and find that with their greater awareness and understanding comes deeper acknowledgment and confusion over how and why he did what he did.

At the same time, I don't want the blog to become solely about our ongoing process and progress in nurturing our innocence, joy and health in the shadow of their dad's suicide.  That feels horribly dreary.  And then I swing back the other way - how can I write about joy and blessing when he's dead?

So, yes, I've been stuck.  And I'm so glad she acknowledged it.  It was the prompt I needed to write this, to share my neurotic back-and-forth that has prevented me from being able to write anything here.

We had a family wedding this weekend, for one of my cousins whom I've known since she was born and whom I love dearly.  She had asked my son and daughter to be the ring-bearer and flower-girl, which was such an honor, and such a moment of pride and belonging for the kids.  And this week, seeing people who I haven't seen in a few years or more, I was told several times, "You seem so happy."  Like the kind of happy I was when I was much younger, in my 20's.  My brother made me all sloppy choked up by telling me he likes listening to how my husband and I talk to each other, because it sounds to him like a couple who are just seeing each other again for the first time in two weeks, after a long business trip. 

They're right, and I am deeply conflicted about being this happy.  I have to remind myself regularly, it's no disrespect to his memory that I am happy now.  Sometimes I feel wracked with guilt about it.  After all, we were separated and getting a divorce when he killed himself.  How do you separate those two facts and not take responsibility?  I have actually told myself that I do get to take some of the responsibility, and believe it or not, this is a relief.  But I also tell myself that I do not get to take all of the responsibility.  And I also have an internal conversation whether I know for certain that he would not have killed himself eventually even if we had stayed married.  And when I walk through what that would have been like, I end up having to admit that I'm not in control, that there's no guarantee I could have done anything, that he wouldn't have been suicidal regardless of what I'd done or not done, that I made the best choices I could for everyone leading up to it, that when he killed himself he was so, so mad at me, so deeply furious at me, thought I was the most reprehensible person he'd ever met for, in his view, walking away from our marriage.  And I remind myself that it was a very mutual disintegration of the relationship, that we both made mistakes, that he told me to leave.

So, three years out, I'm still wrestling with this.  The good news is, at the same time, we are doing really, really well.

My husband and I will celebrate our one-year anniversary next month.  Our progess to where we are now has been very incremental, and we've worked so hard.  Right after the kids' dad died, I had to deal with all of the debt of the estate, and I also had to find a new place for us to live because my horrible landlady was not renewing our lease.  So I bought a house the only place I could afford a 3-br, which wasn't an especially family-friendly neighborhood, and started the kids together at a private school nearby that I could afford and that had a pre-k class so both of the kids could go, so that they could stay close to each other all day.  My instinct was that they needed each other nearby.  And I was right.  My then-boyfriend and I had a set schedule of days that he came to be with us after work, and days that the three of us were on our own.  The kids liked the routine, and we had the space to find our way just the three of us, and yet also to grow the relationship with their now stepdad.  After a year of that, with consultation and approval from the kids, boyfriend moved in.  After about 8 more months, with enthusiastic approval from the kids, the four of went to a judge and made it official.  In the meantime, husband and I also found a very neglected home needing a huge amount of work that was in a great location for us, a great neighborhood for the kids, on half an acre, on a cul-de-sac, backing to a creek.  It was exactly right for us.  Eleven months later, the work was finally completed and we moved in. 

The kids love their new home, and they are looking forward to starting next year at the local public elementary.  I've found out that the nearby Episcopal church is a good fit for us.  The boychild's interest in ornithology has exploded, and he frequently spends hours down by the creek.  We have rehabilitated the lot to some degree, but there's still lots to do.  There's a large garden and chicken coop in the plans.  Husband and I get to rediscover with each new step forward what strong and loving partners we are for each other.  I told him it feels like we've built a new ark for us and the kids, while already in the river, keeping our heads above water, teaching the kids to swim, and in the midst of storms.  We're now safely on deck, living more easily, enjoying the benefits of all our work.  The kids have said several times how much they love the new home, how happy they are that we've moved here.  Everything is coming into place, to how it should be.  We had a garage sale a week ago and the kids got to keep the money from sales of their toys, which was such a great learning experience for them.  They hardly ever turn on the tv.  They're doing well in school and know that they have two grown-ups completely committed to their childhood, safety, well-being, nurturing and growth.  Despite the loss they suffered and still must face and cope with, they are also doing really well.

So, I think I can maybe resume writing here.  There's so much going on, so much to write about.  Thank you if you're still reading, and I'll get back on to it, because the adventure continues!

1 comment:

chris and annie said...

Love this post SO MUCH! I am still reading! I am so happy to hear of, in the midst of your conflicting negatives and positives (which speak so resoundingly to MY heart) that you are resuming your writing, as I think you are very talented and concise. Blessings, lovely woman!