Finding myself in the role of a single mum at the age of 36 was definitely not in my life plan. Not that I ever really had a life plan as such but if I had, it wouldn’t have included this. I did however have dreams, and as I stood at the altar on my wedding day surrounded by a church full of family and friends, united in the view that our vows were sacred, those words were heartfelt. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part. I was a young blushing bride in love with my childhood sweetheart and I meant every word. Having been brought up in a traditional christian family I had no reason to doubt that we would be together forever, but life can throw some unexpected punches and when the worst comes, sickness hits, money is short and hope seems lost , you need more than words to get you through. You need a miracle.
Twenty years ago that’s what was needed to help mend two broken people but the miracle never came…. or did it? At that point in my life (and I can only speak from my version of events) we needed a gardener. Someone who was willing to dig deep into the mud. A gardener who could tell the difference between the weeds and the flowers and put both in their place. I’m only just beginning to learn about gardening but one thing I’ve learnt is that weeds grow quicker than flowers. Looking back I can now see that over a period of time the weeds in our marriage had grown too quickly and taken over, so we couldn’t see the flowers anymore. Of course that didn’t mean that they weren’t still there, we had just lost sight of them.
Good reliable gardeners are often hard to find. You ask them to give you a quote after viewing your garden but how often do we not hear from them again. Maybe they were too busy to fit us in or they took one look and thought “No way Jose”!. Digging deep into someones life takes four things. Commitment, time, sacrifice and inconvenience. It’s so much easier to keep our hands clean and hope that someone else does the dirty work. During those difficult years we didn’t find that gardener, they grabbed their spades and ran…. so we were faced with that unexpected word that none of us go into marriage expecting. Divorce!
Simon has often said that he hates the word divorce. Asking him why he felt this way his response was this. “Its a dark word mum, it means death, you lose a parent. Well that’s a pretty clear and honest description of the word that rocked his little life and the lives of his brothers and sister. I will always hold some sadness in my heart not just for the dark times I went through but for the fact that those four beautiful, innocent little people had to face their own darkness at such a young age and at times possibly without the help of their mum as she had her own demons to conquer. Of course divorce doesn’t mean the death of the other parent although it can feel that way, but I’m sure the loss of daily contact with their dad hurt him as much as it hurt them. A daily phone call can never make up for a daily hug from your dad and a kick of a football around the garden. There are some things a mum can’t do so well. However I don’t think they suffered in the hug department unless maybe in overdose
Divorce rates are high among couples with a special needs child. Although I have never put any blame for what happened on the fact that we found ourselves in that situation at such a young age before we had really found ourselves, I do feel that the stress of such an ongoing situation took its toll. Personally as a young mum I carried around a huge burden of unnecessary guilt for many years over this and I think it contributed massively to the depression I suffered in my thirties. That depression went undiagnosed for quite a few months and the build up of anxiety as to what was wrong was devastating.
The separation of two people doesn’t just end there. Just as the first domino in a line is knocked over and the rest follow, so as two people divide the knock on effect is felt by many as they are faced with the reality of how to deal with their investment in the friendship or family bond. Not wanting to take sides or make a choice is a tough place to be and as far as family goes ranks often close and you can go very quickly from feeling an integral part of something to feeling like ‘public enemy number one’. Throw into the mix a belief system that doesn’t look kindly on divorce and well, your scuppered really. A wise friend said to me at the time that I had lost all my constants. Its only recently that I realised how true that was and in loosing my constants in nearly every area of my life I also for a while lost myself. The journey home has been a rocky one although I think it has been more a journey of discovering who I am now and I’m thankful for the friends new and old who have stuck by me.
There were many factors that led up to the separation of, and divorce of two people who for a good many years were the best of friends and very much in love. There are always two sides to every story and I can of course only write mine. As the title of my blog indicates and the haze of time has softened the rough edges, it may be the version of a rose-tinted spectacle wearer but life is kinder that way.
Earlier I questioned the miracle that didn’t happen at the time I wanted it. That ‘remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences’ didn’t come in a flash to take away the pain we were about to go through, but I believe it did come. As a family we have lived through some years of heartbreak, loneliness confusion and loss but we’ve survived. Looking at my garden I see flowers, some in full bloom, some still breaking out in bud, birds are singing and a fresh breeze is blowing. I only have to look at my children to feel immense pride as I see the people they have become, the goodness in their hearts and their love for each other and there it is……. the miracle.
With love to all those who’ve been there, those who are there now and those who may unexpectedly find themselves there in the future.