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Bipolar and Divorce - Destruction Of A Family
My phone rang last week. I looked at the caller ID and see it is my ex wife's number calling. It's 8:45 pm. It's also my birthday. I say to myself, I say,..... self? <<<Don't you love that one? Anyway I think to myself. "Should I answer it?" So many times when my ex calls it's a hassle. I could never do anything right during the marriage. Why should divorce be any different? Then again I thought to myself. Maybe it's my young son calling to wish me a happy birthday. As the divorce process was carried out my mind would often race. So many problems with no clear solutions. Even now after more than a year of being divorced my mind races on occasion. One phone call and my mind is active with all these thoughts and the phone has not even rung 3 times yet.
I pick up the phone, half expecting to hear the little boy's voice that I love to hear. "Hello"? It's my ex. Her response is basically unintelligible. I repeat, "hello?" Now she begins to speak. Her speech is interrupted by sobs. I still can't tell what the phone call is about but once again my mind is racing. Did something happen to one of the kids? Did something happen to someone in her family? "Are you crying?" I ask. "Jarett just came gave me a drawing he did in school" she starts. "It's a Valentines present for me". I continue to listen. "He drew a picture of us". At this point I ask "You mean of you and me?" Yes, she says. "He drew a picture of a house and in front of the house are you and me and the two kids". She is outright sobbing now. "He also drew himself crying in the picture, and he is asking me why we broke up?". I didn't know what she wanted me to say. Again my mind is racing. Is this a phone call to try to reconcile the break up. I fought divorce as hard as I could for almost a year. I knew these kind of experiences would occur. I did not want to destroy our family even though I had learned that my wife of 12 years had been cheating on me. It was me who recommended counseling. It was me who worked to try to change. It was me who could not eat or sleep for months and lost 30 pounds so quickly.
"It's killing me", she's sobbing uncontrollably now. "Do you want me to send the picture to your house?" I thought, sure I'd like to see it. Then she adds "If you're going to just throw it away then I will keep it". There's the kicker for me. She acts as if I am cold and detached. I have saved the school work in boxes in the boys rooms since she moved out. Why does she have to throw lines like that in there? "No, you go ahead and keep it?" Remember, this is my birthday. I was expecting maybe a call from a young boy saying Happy Birthday Daddy in the sweet little voice of a child. Instead I am now thinking is she trying to tell me that she wants to get back together as a family?
As I fought divorce I was treated like shit. My wife would go out with her girlfriends. I didn't bother to find out who she was meeting in the bars she would go to. I wanted to. I was filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. She admitted to the affair after denying it for months. Even after she finally came clean I looked at what we had accomplished. Bill and Hillary made it through his pecadillos. Why can't I give it a shot? My ex answered the question for me though. "We can not stay together, you'll never get over this". Knowing that she had cheated on me hurt. Now hearing her tell me that his meant the end of our marriage and the destruction of our family without my having a say hurt probably as much as her infidelity.
It was months before I eventually filed for divorce. I stood in the bedroom one morning and told her that I thought she was seeing someone. I could tell from the way she would kiss me goodbye in the morning. It wasn't a kiss anymore. She would actually turn her cheek to me. "Why don't you kiss me anymore?" She told me it was because she had morning breath. I kissed her morning breath for 15 years. I'd leave for work wondering why she couldn't kiss me back anymore in the morning.
After learning of the affair I started reading about the effects of divorce on children. I learned that my youngest son was in the age group that would be most affected by the breakup of a family. Studies have shown that boys between the ages of four and six tend to take the divorce harder than all other age groups. This is why he drew the picture of the family and his tears. I also learned as I went to counseling that eventually the kids would learn the truth about why the marriage ended. I wanted to scream at the boys "your mother cheated on me", but I knew that was not what I would do. Instead I continued to act like we were still a family only now we were a bit smaller. I'd cook them nice dinners and make sure their rooms were clean and we'd go fishing and do things together. Still I watched as my older boy's friends distanced themselves from him. "Your mother is a whore", my son had come home crying one day asking why the boys up the street had said that to him. I don't know how they found out about her affair. I still don't talk about it to people in the neighborhood. As time went by my older boy's grades dropped dramatically. I read that this was a distinct possibility. The events of the last year were traumatic for all of us. I asked my wife, "Do you ever think about the consequences of divorce on the boys?" "They'll be fine." She would say it coldly. "Kids adapt, my parents divorced and I am okay" she would add. I wanted her to read some of the things I was reading. "I don't have time to read" she would reply. Instead she was going out with friends to bars and meeting men. I know she was meeting men because she would not get home till 3 am and sometimes later. Nothing good ever happens after 2 am.
I listened to her cry on the phone. "I am sorry that you are upset" I told her. "I didn't want to get divorced" I couldn't help myself in saying it. "It's killing me" she said again. "Why don't you keep the picture?" I repsonded. "He comes home with pictures like that for me on occasion too" I added. I put them in the box in his room. The one that contains all the other little things a young boy makes in school.
I had fought divorce with everything I had. I even had to ask my wife to get counseling or maybe even address the issue that her Mother was diagnosed with Bipolar and that is was hereditary. My wife had shown signs of depression for almost 10 years. She was on depression medication when she had her affair. She went to counseling and told her counselor that I was the source of all her depression. I know I am not perfect but in reality I came almost every day with a smile on my face and a dog and a toddler greeting me at the door. I would seek my wife out in an effort to give her an "I'm home hug". She would never greet me at the door. Instead I would find her on the computer, or laying in bed. The house a mess. The laundry all over the boys rooms. No supper. She'd have already started drinking.
I think of those things now. I know my son would love to see his Mom and I back together again. I was treated like shit for over a year. I can finally say I am happier now. I was devastated at the thought of divorce. Now I look back and think to myself, I never focused on my own happiness. I went to work each and every day and then came home to be the best husband and Dad I could be. I know there was stress in our marriage and in our family life. I always thought as the boys got older some of the stress would ease.
Now I live with my two boys in the marital home. I fought like hell to keep it after my ex moved out. I look forward to my new life and enjoy my independence on the days the boys are with their Mom. I hope someday my ex stops blaming me for all the depression in her life. Her blame continues towards me. I could never go back to the lack of appreciation and the fact that she threw everything away for her own self indulgence. Some of her self indulgent behavior is mention in some of the other hubs I have written here.
I write these hubs for myself and for others who are going through the process of divorce. Writing for me is therapeutic and I hope others see that although divorce is devastating it does get better. It may take years. It may take counseling, but eventually time heals the wounds and life does get better. For a while I would actually wake up and see the sunshine and think "it's almost monononous, another day, another fight." This feeling has passed. There are still fights but I am winning them now.