There are defining moments in life that are more than just defining. They are undeniable, They are the moments that we can never get back or retrieve again.
This makes them all the more priceless. These are the days of our youth. These are the times of our life. These are the moments, like say, the first time we were on a bicycle and realized we were doing this all by ourselves. These are the moments when we saw something so profound, like Mom and Dad standing together when they were young. These are the memories we carry with us. This is what shapes us. This is what makes us who we are and helps defines who we become.
I see this and I know this well. I know there are memories of mine, which are all that I have left. This is all that I have from the people who are no longer around or no longer in my life. My Mom and The Old Man have been gone for a long time now. As for my moments with them, I am fortunate that in spite of the usual craziness of life and in addition to the unfortunate times, I am lucky to say that yes, I have memories of them. And yes. It would be dishonest of me to say that I have no regrets.
I do have them.
I’ve learned to view them differently now. I have forgiven myself for missing out on certain moments or sabotaging certain relationships. However, the moments that I have missed are not limited to my youth. In fact, I have learned that life misled by challenges can steer us away from important things, such as defining moments with people we love.
There is a little girl that offered me a pretend teacup. With apologies, I didn’t take the cup because I had to leave the house. But yet, I didn’t really have to go. More accurately, I was at war in my head and for the moment, I was standing in troubled territory. I was behind enemy lines, so-to-speak, which was true at the time. This was the month of June, 2006. I had just entered into the journey called “Divorce.”
I was standing in the living room of a place I used to call my home but yet, I didn’t live there anymore and everything around me was a reminder that I was not living there anymore. My regret here is that I allowed outside controversies to intercept moments like this with my daughter. In addition, my loss here is where truth begins. And the truth is little kids are only little once.
Times like these and the times to play pretend come to a close. Children grow and suddenly, little kids aren’t so little anymore. They’ve grown. Not only this; they’ve grown and they remember too. Those defining moments are certainly undeniable for them as well. They remember the things we wished they hadn’t seen. Hence, the regret which comes much later in the game.
I have watched people undergo the tragedies of bad divorces. I have seen people in unfair battles because their divorce became as brutal as they come. I have watched children become pawns in this fight.
I can say that no, this wasn’t me. I can say that I did not do that.
But is this true?
I tried not to do this.
I can say that it was never my intention to make anyone choose between Mom or Dad. I can say this but yet, there were times when I mentioned my resentment. There were times when I mentioned my anger. I tried to keep away from this but in fairness, I can see where my focus was more on being right than it was on being happy.
I responded to things in which there were better responses. Then again, awareness of this does not come until after the aftermath. (So by the way, be mindful of this.)
I gave into the wrong mental mindset. And here I am now, living with something irreparable.
But wait, there’s more.
I had to learn how to find my own recovery with this. There is so much in life that goes far beyond our control. Moreover, I learned that I am most out of control whenever I try to control something uncontrollable. I had to learn to get off this ride; otherwise, all I would ever do is spin round and round.
I have become part of a show that discusses divorce. We talk about the struggles we face during the separation process. Unfortunately, not everyone plays fairly. We have had judges on the show. We have had attorneys for the child on the show, divorce attorneys and therapists.
The goal of the show is to help people avoid costly, emotional mistakes that can lead to the irreparable problems of, say, missing out on some of the most defining moments in a child’s life.
There is a frequent guest on the show named Fran. We call these episodes Fun with Fran because Fran is one of the most sensational people we know. She is warm. She is loving and caring. She knows how to reach people but more, Fran is also an educator. She is a professor. However, Fran’s words are simple. In fact, each time we go into the studio to tape we write Fran’s words on the whiteboard in front of the broadcast room.
“Fess up when you mess up!”
I love this.
I love Fran too.
Fran is a warrior to me. She is a friend, but more, she is a source of comfort who without, I am not sure that I would still be doing school lectures or anything of the sort.
Fess up when you mess up:
I have taken this to heart because the truth is yes, I messed up. Yes, I have made my mistakes. And yes, there were reasons in which I swore that I was right. And do you know what?
Maybe I was right but was it worth it? Was happiness more important or was being right more important?
This is a great question to ask.
I see this divorce game like a chess board. Everyone is looking to say checkmate. But why? To what avail? The marriage is over now. Why argue anymore? Why drag things out?
Is this because of pride? Is this because hell hath no fury like someone scorned?
Is this because after years of walking the line, we found out that so much was wasted?
In many cases, divorce happens because the marriage started with faulty reasons.
People settle and marry someone available because, hey, who knows if there really is a person of my dreams?
I fess up where I messed up.
I was angry. I acted angry and I responded with anger. I know where my faults and mistakes were, to which I honor them for what they are and I openly admit to this.
There were certainly moments and situations which were unfair. There was time that was taken away from me and wasted on fights and arguments that didn’t need to happen.
I accept my share in this.
Also, since money was tight for me, I agreed to things from a weaker ground. In my head, I believed I was being submissive. And I hate being submissive. I had no control. And let’s face it. Isn’t this why people get mad? Isn’t this why we tell?
No control? No say?
Next, we live out every interaction, based on assumptions and we prepare for war. We expect the worse each and every time. We do this because the ego is too afraid of being seen as weak or foolish; so we ready the war front and prepare for battle because we don’t ever want to feel weak or humbled again.
I did this. I can say that yes, this was me. And what was the result?
The result was a child in the middle, thinking she had to choose a side.
And she did.
In fairness, I never meant for this to happen. I never wanted this to be the way it is but yet, I had a voice and I wanted to be heard. I wanted to be validated. I wanted to be acknowledged to the point where this outweighed happiness. I spent so much time looking for my validation that I forgot to have fun with my child.
Please do not allow this to happen to you.
Out of frustration, there was an argument. I was angry. I yelled. And worse, I lost time with my child because I fed the wrong energy. I forget that time is fleeting. I forgot that the infant years are short bursts of time. Visitations are limited to weekends and maybe a weeknight or two. Dinners are limited. Time is limited and therefore, the time we spend arguing or focusing on the arguments does nothing but steal moments of something like, say, playing tea with a little girl that knows nothing about the word divorce.
By the way, divorce is an adult word. This is an adult problem. No child asks for this. No, they are only dealt this like a bad hand of cards at a poker game with no winners
I am part of this show called Breaking the Vow, which is part funny and part informative. This is a podcast that comes from the heart. The creator is Theresa D.
Theresa is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She understands the need to navigate away from emotional thinking because like so many others, Theresa went through divorce too.
Years back when I first landed myself in a treatment center, I was taught about the wrongs of my past. I was shown my mistakes and I learned from them. I was also taught to share this. I was told that by sharing our past and the exact nature of our wrongs, we can learn from each other. We can help each other by sharing where we went wrong so that hopefully, someone else can be free of this same mistake.
In answer to a question I received, do I think I am too hard on myself.
My answer is no. I am not hard on myself.
I am honest about myself.
I am honest about my inventory, which I share on the shows because before I entered into the field of mental health, I was me. I was someone with challenges and mistakes. I was someone that could not see clearly and as a result, I found myself on the losing ends of different battles that didn’t need to happen.
I am proud of where I am. I’m proud to say what I do but yes, if I could turn back time and go back to when my little girl wanted to play tea time, I’d grab that cup like a champ and play pretend until her little heart was content.
We want to inspire those in the middle of divorce to think carefully.
Beware the choices we make out of haste or resentment.
The results can last longer than you think.
Trust me . . .