fell on black days
fell on black days
I try to be the best parent I can. Maybe I try too hard sometimes, because there was a time when I didn't try at all. It haunts me and I don't know how to let it go or make up for it.
Asking my husband to leave our house and end our marriage was probably one of the best days of my life. It wasn't hard, it wasn't sad, because I had thought about it and planned it out for years. When he left, that proverbial weight was lifted off my shoulders. My life was beginning again.
I lived off adrenaline for a while after that. I was elated. I was high. I was free. Best of all, I was able to be myself after many, many years of keeping that person in hiding. I didn't eat or sleep for weeks at a time. I lost a ton of weight. It was like being on a drug.
And then it crashed. After the adrenaline wore off, and the giddiness of finally getting rid of the major source of pain and sadness in my life started to fade, the reality of it all hit me. I had failed. I was getting divorced. We had a broken home. I was alone.
It didn't help that the separation was not sitting well with him. He stalked and harassed and screamed and cried. He followed me and threatened me and made me feel like I was doing something horribly wrong to the kids. He used them against me and told them horrible lies. He twisted words and embellished truths.
I started to feel like it was all my fault. Like I could have made it work somehow, even though he didn't try at all. It was my fault he gambled. It was my fault he was mean and nasty and treated me like dirt. I sunk into a downward spiral of shame and humilation and blame. I had failed.
At the same time, the restaurant I was managing closed when the owner decided to retire. So I was home, unemployed, in the process of a divorce, in the process of drowning in my self-pity.
I barely left the house. Hell, I barely left the bedroom. I slept, I cried, I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. The kids spent an awful lot of time at my mother's, often sleeping there several nights in a row. Some days I kept them home from school because I did not have the energy nor the inclination to get them ready. When I did send them to school, their clothes were wrinkled, their lunches full of junk food and their homework not done. It was not a coincidence that it was Natalie's worst year in school ever. It was not a coincidence that DJ developed some intestinal problems at about that time. But I was too stuck in my own dark, depressed world to see or care.
I made myself sick. I missed the combined birthday party I had half heartedly planned for them because I couldn't lift my head up off my pillow. My sisters and my mother took over, becoming like parents to them during this time. I don't know what would have happened if I didn't have my family around.
Gone were the days in the park and the nights at the beach and popcorn and videos in the living room. It was me, me, me and my pity and my sorrow and my bleak, desperate world.
Eventually the fog lifted, my friends and family pulling me out of my depression. I met someone who gave me the gift of love. My life started over again. Second stage, new chapter, etc.
But all the subsequent happiness and family life and great times do not make up for what I did to my children during those months. I carry it around with me daily. I look at them and wonder how much damage I inflicted. How much they remember of those days and how it effects them now. I wonder how that horrible year in 3rd grade will come back to haunt Natalie. Or how much of DJ's change in personality was my fault.
I try to make up for it and sometimes I try too hard. I have probably spoiled them since then. I bought them too many things and took them too many places and smothered them with love so often that it started to freak them out. I want to apologize to them, but I don't think they would understand. I want to tell them I'm sorry for neglecting them and I'm sorry for being selfish and uncaring. I don't know how to make it up to them.
I just hope that the effects of those days aren't too far reaching and all I've done since then can override whatever dark clouds settled in their minds during that time.
As parents, we do the best we can do. That's all anyone asks of us. I failed that part of parenting for a while. I didn't do my best. I did my worst. I probably have never admitted this before to anyone. I don't think I have ever spilled it out in detail or been so open about it. But it's time to admit it, and it's time to own up to it and it's time to figure out how I make that up to them, if I can. How do you get time back?