Friday, April 14, 2017

Moving On After Divorce

I want to make one thing clear before I really delve into this topic. My ex and I have four kids together. We were married for a decade and a half. There's no such thing as a clean break after making that kind of commitment. It does not exist. All the books I read to help with parenting post-relationship (and there were A LOT) only did so much.

My ex showed our children Despicable Me and compared himself to the main character, making exaggerated noises of sadness whenever they were changing hands and it was my turn to take them.

"It's just like the scene where the kids are taken away," he told them, holding out his arms for a big hug before they piled into my car. This was invariably followed by long moments of silence on the road, mostly from my oldest son (12 years old at the time) who would make pointed statements while I was making dinner or helping with homework. Below are a few I heard all too often.

"Dad can't afford to buy us clothes. He's poor because of the divorce."

"Dad would be happy if you hadn't left."  

"Dad says you're the one who broke our family."

Since the number one rule of divorce is not to speak ill of the other parent, there was little I could say to my son without poisoning the well. So I mostly bit my tongue and listened, even when it hurt like hell. As mentioned in a previous post, my son is on the autism spectrum. So I can't really blame him for struggling with the change and believing  the words of his own father.

Change is hard for most typical children, but for a child on the spectrum... oh boy! 

There were so many emergency phone calls from his middle school, I couldn't have held down a job that year if I'd had one. "Ms Escaping, I need you to come up to the school; your son had a meltdown and pulled down his pants in the hall."

"Ms. Escaping, the fire alarm triggered your son into a meltdown. He spit on the teacher."

"Ms. Escaping, your son tried to run from the school. I feel bad about this call because we know it was a meltdown. He had no control. But we still need you to pick him up."

(Sigh) Are you noticing a theme here? My son has always had meltdowns, ever since he was a little tot, but back then the meltdowns were mostly just crying and screaming for a duration of 15 minutes or more. He didn't kick a hole in the wall until he was about 10. He didn't begin having laughing fits that we called being "loopy" until he was 11, and the laughing fits didn't turn into problems at school until I left his dad. 

In short, my son's meltdowns had become a source of extreme worry and concern. 

Everyone told me it was going to be hard when I left the marriage, but this? No one predicted this. Which brings me to the culmination of the manipulation/meltdown problem. You thought it couldn't get any worse, didn't you? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  

My son now describes the culmination of this phase as, "The most awful moment of my life. " It isn't something he's proud of. In fact, I asked his permission before writing about this. But since this blogpost is getting a bit long, I'll have to finish this story on Monday.

37 comments:

  1. A family breaking is hard. My own experience in childhood is vastly different. I hope the next part of the story gets some hope for mom and son.
    It's very hard to hear a family member blamed, mocked, or spoken ill of, that I do know.

    J -- Co-host the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

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    1. Well hey, there was a reason the marriage didn't work. Often times the traits a person has that get in the way of maintaining a loving, happy relationship are still there when things end. I would be interested to hear your own experience during childhood. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. You have an interesting A-Z take and a hard one. I went through a divorce when I was young (mid-20s) and thankfully we had no kids. It was painful. I can't imagine what it would have been like with children.

    http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-letter-l-is-for-lots-in-our.html

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    1. You do what you have to, I think. Divorce is just hard.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Divorce is hard. It's even harder when comments are made to the children regarding the other parent. I got lucky with that. My ex-husband and I do not speak ill of one another.

    My kids were younger when we got divorced, I don't know if that made it easier or not. I know a non-spectrum middle schooler would have a more difficult time and it would be a lot more difficult on the parent, I can't even imagine how hard it was for you.

    Once Upon a Time

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    1. It's definitely better when parents don't speak ill of one another. Kids love their parents regardless of whatever baggage mom and dad may have toward each other. Hearing negative stuff is just so damaging to them. I'm glad you and your ex were able to put the kid's well being first.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. My wife has been divorced twice. I was the best man at the last wedding and we have four kids from the previous marriages. When the kids were young my wife, and me to some degree heard those same comments and the kids were confused. However that was a long time ago we have been married for 30+ years and the kids think of me as DAD and are all doing great. Its a long haul but if you are doing your bit for your kids as best you can then you will all make it out of the tough times.

    OOOo just to say my wife was on her own before we got together, her ex ran off with someone else who has since run off with someone else. . . its like a terrible soap on TV.

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    1. I can imagine you and your wife could write a book about the soap opera lives of your exes. I'd read it ;-).

      Thank you for stopping by.

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  5. Oh wow. That is definitely tough. My parents were divorced when I was five. I did deal with the occasional nasty comment (mostly from my former stepdad, who was horrible), but I knew both of my parents loved me and that was all that mattered.

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    1. Yes, love, I think that's what matters most. You hit the nail on the head. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. I understand personally how it feels to be in a family without mom and dad, together. I was my daddy's little girl, but once he decided to move out, I have never left my mom's side.

    Could relate to your post completely.

    I have written a small poem for all the single moms around - Do stop by!

    Maa

    Love,
    Ashmita
    Chaoticsoulzzz

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    1. I will stop by. Thank you for reading and sharing that you know how it feels.

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing. This must be so hard to deal with, especially with the spectrum in the mix. Keep strong! And a Happy Easter to you both! M is for Marketing Methods as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

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  8. Divorce sucks, but staying married to a whiney bastard sucks more! I feel for you and your son.

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    1. Thank you. Yeah, life just doesn't turn out how you planned sometimes. Okay, all the time. But at least it's a learning experience.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Can't imagine how hard even writing this must have been..let alone living through it. I hope it has ended up making your stronger. Waiting to hear the culmination with fingers crossed.

    Stopped by from the #atozchallenge

    https://archanablogs.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/m-for-mind-full-or-mindful/

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    1. It was a hard time. I didn't really let it sink in how hard until just now when I was writing about it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Wow, sorry you had to go through this. I hope the next part of the story is better.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. It get worse, unfortunately. But it does eventually get better. I think the dark night of the soul moment in fiction is a thing in real life too.

      Thanks for reading.

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  11. Andy,

    I can't imagine life after divorce especially with children. Thankfully my partner in crime is a purrfect suit. It sounds like you held it together quite well and I don't know if I could've done as good as you. Hopefully things will only improve and as your kids grow up will see things differently. It's so easy to pin fault on one parent in these situation but one day they'll realize that parents are human when they become parents themselves. Thanks for sharing such an emotional and sensitive topic.

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet "M" (Mermaids)

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    1. I bet you could have held it together if you had to. You never what you're capable of until life challenges you. I have a lot of hope for my kids now. This time in our family that I'm writing about here was really hard, but now... I have a lot of hope.

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  12. I would have left your husband too. Shame on him for being so self-centered. Raising kids is a hard job.
    I take care of several handicapped family members. It's about getting your attitude in the right place. I have this fantasy where I don't have to do it anymore. But I would be miserable if they weren't taken care of.

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    1. Yes it was. Thank you for stopping by.

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  14. I know about children with meltdowns. We have one at our school. He is one of seven siblings living in a bad situation. Their parents divorced anyway, but his mother died of cancer a few years ago, his father - who never moved back in, though he did abort plans to return to his country of birth when his ex died - is dying of cancer himself now. So it's the boy's older sister who has to come and collect him when he has a particularly bad meltdown, forcing her to put on hold her dreamed-of career as a baker to look after him and the other younger children. I knew her as a student. She was a great kid. She told me when I saw her last that her brother sometimes screams for four hours and they just have to wait it out.

    At least you have your child with you. My nephew's ex took their two daughters and left the state, so he has to fly there for the weekend if he wants to see them.

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    1. That sounds like a truly heartbreaking situation: one parent with cancer, the other deceased, and not enough resources to go around either from extended family, friends, or any sort of community assistance.

      I have issues with how we value (or rather, don't value) caretakers in the United States. Granted I don't know if this is happening in the US, but it certainly seems like it could happen here. We give so much lip service to teachers, to parents, to nurses, and to other people who devote a life to caring for others. But then we second guess them, pay them like crap, overwork them, and put them under a microscope.

      I strongly believe there should be some social safety net for a family that doesn't have the resources to care for a special needs child. It isn't fair the sister is forced to put off her dreams as a baker, nor is it fair that the child with metldowns doesn't have the care and support he needs.

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    2. And unfortunately, situations like this are all too common!

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    3. They do have a case worker, but these keep changing. The school does its best to look after him. Our welfare teacher helps. I run a lunchtime book club, of which he is a member. I've taken him on two book club excursions and he was good as gold both times, as long as I gave him attention, which I did, sitting next to him and talking to him, introducing him to a favourite author I knew personally. But there's only so much we can do. He gets home and he's his sister's job. And yes, I agree, it's totally unfair.

      At least screaming is as far as he goes, and running out of class to wander about the school grounds.

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  15. I am sorry that you are going though a difficult time. I went through a divorce, but we did not have any children. I hope that you hang in there.

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  16. My parents divorced right after I graduated HS and turned 18. It was surreal, strange, and mostly ignored. There wasn't any fighting, bad words, etc. So, yeah, thankful for that. Still at 18 it was hard. I can't imagine 12 or younger. In the last year or so (yes, nearly 40 years later) I've been able to openly talk to both my parents about the divorce, their choices, why they got married in the first place, etc. Yes, time can heal wounds, but mostly, understanding gained with age (it does take a while) can help open conversations with compassion, love, and understanding.

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    1. It definitely helps to have understanding gained with age. I have already seen growth in my children. Greater understand. More empathy.

      Hopefully this will continue.

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  17. I have a child who is going through a divorce after 15 years of marriage. No kids in the mix, but the grieving seems to return in waves even after the process being dragged out over two years. You summed it up. Divorce is just hard.

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    1. Yep. So much history. So much entanglement to get yourself extracted from.

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  18. I cannot possibly envisage what things would have been like if divorce had happened to either myself or our children - for a child with special needs such as your son it must be just so difficult to come to terms with. This is certainly a very emotional subject for you to be undertaking for the A-Z but I am sure many people will be helped by your posts. Lovely to meet - http://pempispalace.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/m-is-for-maddening-melancholic.html

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. And yes, it is an emotional topic, but it helps work through it with writing. It is cathartic.

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