Grieving the loss of both my families
(Plymouth, CA, USA )
Ironically, I am currently working on becoming a marriage and family therapist. I am currently enrolled in a graduate class in research, and I have chosen the healing process as my topic. While writing my paper and reflecting on my own struggles going through a divorce, I did a quick search on Google and found this site.
It was one of those situations that seemed like more than coincidence. I desperately need a vehicle where I can express my progress, sorrows and challenges. I seem to be definitely in the 4th stage “depression”, reflection, and loneliness.
The loneliness seems to be affecting me the most right now. First let me quickly recount the last two and half years. It is said that a crisis will bring a couple closer together or farther apart. You guessed it, mine went farther apart. Three years ago my then 20 year old daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To make a long story short, she has basically been cured. That is one of the good things about Hodgkin’s: after five years of remission the patient is considered cured! My daughter has been clear for three years now. To go into the ups and downs of my 27 year marriage would take too long. But it became abundantly clear to me that there was no chance of having a healthy, loving relationship with my wife (whom I will always love). With the blessings of both my daughters, I got a divorce two and half years ago (three years this July).
It has been an extremely painful process. I initially moved into my mother’s house while she was in a nursing home battling ovarian cancer. About six months after I moved in, she lost her battle to ovarian cancer. My father had died six years earlier to pancreatic cancer. To add to my list of losses, a month after my mom died, my sister’s husband was tragically killed while riding his bicycle (he was a champion bicyclist, having had been an alternate to the Olympics in his youth).
Twenty years ago, I had come crashing to my knees and began turning my life around 180 degrees. I had made complete amends to my wife and made my family my total priority in life. My family meant everything to me and I committed myself to being the best husband and father I could be. During all those years I basically came to follow one principal in my relationship with my wife: 1. to do my best to love her without reservations and 2. To do my best to honor her boundaries and stay in my own (hence, I did my best to turn her over to God and not try to manipulate or condemn her in any way). Underneath it all was the belief that if I was doing my best to honor God in my relationship, we would be able to have a healthy, loving relationship. You see, the people in my life (primarily my mother and father) were unable to love me. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family that left some deep seated wounds.
All my life I was looking for the place and that person that would live with me in a truly loving relationship. That’s the rub. I’m beginning to believe that it is in my heart that I have to find that unconditional love and acceptance and not try and get it through someone else. However, life is all about relationships and the way to be in a healthy loving relationship is to be with someone that is able to do that. I know that my former wife did not unlove me intentionally, but was unable to form a loving, intimate relationship due to her own wounds suffered in childhood. But, I came to find out that being on the receiving end of no love doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or not – it still feels like being unloved.
So right now, it is extremely difficult to accept the loss of my own family and my family of origin. I had so hoped and so longed for being in a loving relationship. I realize that I was holding on to a dream that my former wife would love me as a way to not only heal the loss of never really being loved, but also to fill the hole that was left in my heart from my family of origin. So you see, I am really grieving the loss of both my family of origin and my own family. It is really a very hard thing to accept. For twenty years what kept me going was the “promise” of a wife that would eventually turn her heart to the Lord as well and join me in a loving relationship….alas it was not to be.
Underscoring making my family my sole priority was absence of creating intimate relationships outside of the marriage. Hence, I find myself without a best friend to lean on. I have good friends at work and have met some wonderful friends at college, but I do not have that best friend that will call me and ask how am doing.
In a way, I am very grateful that I basically get to start life all over but now with a great deal of wisdom. Also, despite my loneliness and loss, I have healed many, many wounds thanks to the grace and love of God. I do feel immensely grateful. It is just too bad that I can’t actually sit down and have a conversation with God…that sure would take care of the best friend.
Alas, I look forward to healing this very large wound and getting on with life. Life is so incredibly precious to me and I do cherish the days that the Lord is giving me.
Not withstanding, I do have a love I never thought I would ever have. That is the love of two wonderful daughters. Our relationship is better than it ever has been before. When we were together as a family, I basically went along with the unsaid rules my wife had made. One of them was we don’t talk about our real feelings and thoughts, only the superficial ones. My daughters and I don’t life by that rule any more and it has made such a tremendous difference.
So while I feel very grateful for the love of my daughters and God, I still hurt for the loss of my family and my dream of an intact, whole, loving, happy family.
I do look forward to the day when I have sufficiently healed to get on with my life and experience the love and beauty it has to offer in abundance.