In order for you to really understand how David and I arrived where we are today, at the point where we're not only involved parents to our boys, but also good friends and now co-founders of The Undivided Divorce, I need to share the truth with you. I've agonized over how much of our story to tell you, and finally decided that to be anything but completely transparent and authentic wouldn't work for me.
The other reason I've decided to be so completely open about the break-up of our marriage and my role in that is because I want you to see where we started this journey. Our divorce wasn't clean and easy. It was painful and messy and had the potential to completely destroy any chance of an amicable relationship once it was final. The only reason we ended up where we are today is because, when it was all said and done, we were both willing to forgive each other and move forward in mutual respect for the sake of our boys.
I began to realize that my marriage was over about two years before it ended. I had been married for 11 years, we had two small boys, I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom, and I was miserable. We had moved to a small town in Washington State in June of 1999 and most of my family and friends were about four hours away in Oregon. I felt as if I had lost myself. We were struggling financially and we had virtually stopped communicating. We certainly weren't connecting on any level other than the surface, day-to-day things that had to be taken care of. I looked at my life and thought, “This is it, I’m in it for the next 18 years because of these boys, so I’d better figure out a way to endure it.”
When I look back now, I realize that my thinking was definitely flawed. My boys were not being nurtured in our home, certainly not by me. They weren’t watching an example of a loving relationship. Worst of all, they were living with two miserable people who were essentially only there because of them. For my part, that caused me to blame them (on an unconscious level), for my unhappiness. Eli, my youngest, was only 3 and began to withdraw from me, preferring the comfort of his daddy if he fell or was upset. My oldest Sam, 6 at the time, just did his best to keep the peace with me on a daily basis.
I wish I’d had the strength to see that this arrangement wasn’t working for anyone and to walk away. I wish I’d had the belief in myself to absolutely know I could make it on my own and to ask for a divorce. Unfortunately, I wasn’t strong enough to do that. Instead I had an affair. At the end of September, 2001, I asked David for a divorce.
It will probably come as no surprise that the affair ended less than a year after our divorce. I'm not proud of how I chose to end our marriage. In fact, it's one of the biggest regrets of my life. Here's my point. No matter what your story is, no matter how "wronged" you feel by your ex or how guilty you feel for your part in your divorce, there is still a path you can choose that keeps your kids in the center and out of harms way. It's a choice David made, as hard as that must have been for him. It's a choice I made. And it's a choice you can make as well.