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When Life Hits Hard

Updated on January 15, 2009
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Sunshine is a wife, mother of four, a relationship expert, a journalist, a photographer, a public speaker, and author.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Don't tell me that everything happens for a reason. I don't want to hear about God closing a door and opening a window, that he wouldn't give me more than I could handle, or that anything will make sense eventually.

Have you ever been there? In your life, has there ever been a point where you thought it might be easier to just call the men with the butterfly nets to come take you away? If a rubber room has ever sounded like a vacation getaway, than I would imagine your answer is yes.

I have been there. Once upon a time, I was married with 2.5 children, a dog, and a minivan. On the outside, we were perfect. On the inside, we were rotted and decayed. Ten years after the night we met, and six years after our wedding day, my husband walked out the door. I was devastated. I had always tried to live up to this thing that he wanted me to be, but somehow always fell short. That's not the worst part of it. I was a stay-at-home mother, per my husband's request. When he left us, he left us with nothing. I had two little girls, no job, and no way to pay the bills. I'm sure you've heard this story before.

Slowly, I picked up the pieces of our lives, and put them back together the best way I knew how. With a lot of hard work, and two, or sometimes three jobs, we moved from the basement of the friend who took us in when no one else would, to an apartment. My girls were the most important things in my life. Too many nights I fell exhausted on the bed in my work clothes, because I didn't have anything left to give. But, as I said before, I'm sure you've heard this story before.

During that time, he was away in the Air Force, and we talked of reconciliation. I was sure that I could be a better wife if he would just give me a chance. Shortly after our first Christmas apart, he came home for leave. It was on this weekend that I met his very pregnant girlfriend, and she found out that he was married with two small children. Life hit me pretty hard that day, and I ended reconciliation talks with my soon-to-be ex-husband.

Two more years went by, and it'd been three years since my little girls had their father. Sure, they saw him from time to time while he was on leave, but those visits were very few and far between. I'm sure my babies were sad, and I know they missed him, but I had such little troopers. Their strength was what pulled me through. Everything I did in my life revolved around them.

Here's where the story veers off the road from traditional tellings. His relationship didn't last long with the mother of his new daughter. Before he was rid of her, he was dating another, and they planned to be married. He moved back to our town, which was wonderful for my girls, because they could see him on a regular basis after four years without him.

I was in a new and wonderful relationship with my new husband as well, and we were expecting. For a while, things were great. My ex-husband's new wife seemed very nice, and I thought we would be able to co-parent our children with amazing ease.

Shortly after his marriage to his new wife, my girls learned what hell was. It was her mission for my children to live with them. Had they come to me in a peaceful manner and asked for the girls to spend more time with them, I would have considered it. Instead, they used tactics like picking them up from school and refusing to bring them back. More than once, my children disappeared. If I thought life hit me hard before, it was nothing compared to not knowing where my babies were.

As you would guess, a court battle ensued, and police were called in to aid me with retrieving my girls more than twice. What I didn't know at first was that when he had them, he spend all of his time brain washing them, and turning them against me. He told them horrible things, like I was a drug addict, and I had sex with every man I ever met, and aborted all of their babies. Why any person would tell lies like that is beyond me, but why anyone would tell a child such things makes me ill.

After a very expensive legal battle, and an attorney being appointed to my children, he won. He didn't win custody in a court of law, but he won over the girls with promises of trips and all of the things they didn't get to have while they were with me, because, obviously I was a horrible mother for not making sure they always had what they wanted.

The thing is, I never let on that we were ever broke. I cried myself to sleep many times, because I wasn't sure if we would be able to pay rent and buy groceries. Somehow I always found a few extra dollars for their school pictures, or for them to get a book from the book fair. I had to accept charity from a local church on our first Christmas away from their father, because I didn't have enough money to get them anything. They never knew any of the fear I had, because a good parent shields their child from pain and fear whenever possible. Their world was made of concrete, and they were wonderful outgoing children. Bright, beautiful, and amazing, their inner light shined through to everyone.

That is, until he extinguished it. Suddenly, they were afraid of everyone. They didn't trust me anymore. My ex-husband even had them believing that someday my new husband might look at them and not see little girls, but see sex toys. They went inward, and became depressed. One of them drew pictures of herself being murdered all the time. She was eight years old.

I went to the hospital seven times to stop my baby from coming too early from the stress he put us through, starting in the 24th week. We were very lucky that they were successful each and every time. My ex-husband and his wife laughed and told the girls it was my karma that was putting me in the hospital. No matter how loudly I screamed, the world didn't hear me. The world wouldn't take a look at the changes in the children. Their lawyer's decision was that since there were no signs of abuse at their father's house, they should be allowed to live there. I could have fought forever, but everyone, my lawyer included, advised me to let them go, and to stop the fighting. Mediators told me that it would be the mature parenting choice. My children begged me to let them go.

I did. No judge on the planet would rule against the children's' lawyer.

Out of the blue, the mother of his other daughter died in the line of duty. They told the children she died from her karma, because she didn't let their sister live with them. He fought for custody of his other daughter, and lost to her grandparents. He is the father, and he lost. I think that says something about his parenting ability.

I feel that the only ones who truly lost are my children. Since they left to live with him, it has been his mission to remove me from their lives completely. It's hell every day dealing with him, but I have grown from not wanting to hear that everything happens for a reason, to understanding a little more every day.

It didn't take long before my children knew they had made a mistake. He never made good on his promises of things and vacations. He lied. The relationship I have with my children now is much stronger than it ever was in the past. They have a new found trust in me that is unshakable. They see that I fought only to protect them, not to hurt their father. Never again will they take me and all I have done for them for granted.

Sometimes life can knock you down, and it feels like there is no way you can get back up. When life seems so unfair, and you're stretched past the breaking point, those are the moments that define us as people. While reading my story, I imagine that you thought I made the wrong choice, when indeed, no matter how painful it was for us all, it was the right choice. If I would have fought him and won, my children would have never forgiven me for hurting him. Now, one day they will thank me for the opportunity to have the life experience that I gave to them. It was my gift.

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