Taking the high road sucks.
When your character is assassinated and your soul is ripped out and you’re broke and you’re tired and flashes of broken hearts can be seen through your child’s eyes – your reaction is usually war, not steps forward in contentment.
I’ve been wrestling with writing. I quit because I don’t want to be known as the divorcee or former stepmother, or the broken, tattered, worn woman who used to be full of passion. I don’t want to spend a ton of time explaining to you the path that brought me back to the page but I do want to share this with you.
It’s a tale of the high road.
I get to marry the most incredible man I’ve ever met next year. Finding our way to each other was no easy task. Some people seem to bump into their soul mate seamlessly. We don’t have that story. We are both divorced, and had to claw our way out of deep, dark pits. Emotionally. Physically. Financially. Spiritually. And one day, after a few years had passed and when things were just starting to come together, so did we.
I was not easy to love, nor was my heart entirely available. I was scared and guarded. He was patient and kind. It didn’t take long for me to tell him about my Little Bear. Losing my son is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me and I still suffer immense PTSD over the loss. I have nightmares that I am looking for him and can’t find him. I often remember distinct moments about our time together and it paralyzes me. I still cry often. But I believe strongly that when he is an adult and capable of making his own decisions, he will come looking for answers, and will find his way back to me. As such, I have built a life that will ALWAYS have room for him in it if he wishes to reconnect one day.
I was not quiet about this place that exists in my heart only for my son. I was clear that any man who would want to be with me would have to accept not only that I had a son, but one who may one day show up looking for answers. And they had to be willing to invite him in with me if he did. This was an absolute necessity in my be-with-me-criteria. Several men had tried to date me post-divorce but none of them could hold a candle to my man. They were intimidated by this place in my heart and they weren’t entirely comfortable with leaving the door open for my boy or tolerating possible discussions with my ex-husband regarding it.
I soon realized why my man was okay with leaving the door open for my boy. It’s because once upon a time, was a very similar boy. A child of divorce; no stranger to alienation. He had to learn on his own terms the truth about his parent’s divorce and the truth about their character. He was abandoned in a million ways and left to fight through lies and at times, poverty.
When he grew into an adult, he realized the amount of work his father put into fighting for him. The countless hours he spent trying to make life better for him, trying to support him financially and the boulder he was pushing uphill in character assassination on the regular.
I knew immediately that he and his father were close, but I didn’t understand why until he saw my first complete meltdown regarding my son. I still wake up from horrible nightmares about him or begin crying in the grocery store during back to school shopping or get paralyzed in certain situations where I am brought right back to a life I once knew as an extremely devoted mother. I have woken up more than once in tears. Unexplainable tears, where I just want my child back and the pain is overwhelming. Each time, he has held me and he shows me all that a man truly is. I waited my whole life for this kind of strength, character and integrity in a partner. He proved to me almost instantly that he would never stoop to that absolutely pathetic level where one uses a child against another.
The best man. The high road. The beginning.
My guard began coming down. Not all people are out to ruin lives, friends. And when we find ones who protect our hearts and aren’t drowning in narcissism, we hang on tightly.
I can’t even tell you how fast I knew I wanted to marry this man. We actually went to middle school together and have lots of mutual connections – which made this idea less terrifying for me. Having dealt with the grandest of bait and switches in my first marriage, the thought of committing to a con-artist again was overwhelming. But, we built a foundation that I’d never known before. It was not lust. It was not sick. It was nothing other than entirely right. Even still, he would not entertain marriage discussions until he asked my father for his blessing. He planned an entire meal with my parents without my knowledge, to ask them if he could marry me.
The best man. The high road.
When we got engaged, he was adamant that his father would be his best man in our wedding. It was not even a question for him. In fact, I said I didn’t want a bridal party or all the big flashy wedding pieces, I only wanted him. I was quite comfortable with a simple small celebration.
But this man is a saint. He knew how important it was for my father to walk me down the aisle. For my mother, who I nearly lost in 2015, to see me at the bridal boutiques and make memories together. For my dearest friends to enjoy all of the beauty that a real, full, God-breathed wedding can bring. So I conceded. When he asked his father to be the best man, he put their picture in a frame and wrote him a card. For a man who doesn’t cry, his dad was overcome with emotion. Probably more than my fiancé could ever know. I LONG for the kind of reconciliation that was displayed in that moment. That healing. To know it all mattered. To know that I made it. And that my son knows how desperately I love him.
And I am constantly brought back to this:
Shortcuts are for the weak. Mudslinging is for children. The best man always wins.
Now, not every story is like this. I am still without my son. I know many INCREDIBLE men and women who are hurting every single day apart from their children. But I do know one thing, we have a choice. We can be bitter and hateful and hopeless. We can continue to climb barbed wire fences and go away every single time bleeding and defeated. Or we can live our truth and trust our truth.
When I asked my fiancé what it was about his father that made him want to choose him for such a special place in the wedding, he said without pause – he is my hero.
It took over 30 years for my soon-to-be father in law to have this moment. And that is a LOT of perseverance. But he knew his truth. He knew that the high road was not a sure thing, but it was the most likely route to victory. After repeated losses friends, there is only one win that truly matters – and that is what prevails in the end.
So that is what is on my heart to share with you today. I have not given up on my son, but I have given up on a fight I can’t win – the fight with his father. Because the fight was never with his father. I wasted so much energy fighting his father, his reality, his sabotage, his truth.
The fight should have been with myself. With my tendency to be defeated. To allow a defamation of character to paralyze me, or to think that the truth is not as absolutely powerful as it is.
So that is where I’d like to start contributing to the group again. You won’t hear me slandering my ex husband, in fact, my hope is that an overwhelming light of truth pours over him and he can break out of this cage he lives in. But that is all the attention he will ever get from me again – my well wishes and a send off.
From now on, I will spend every waking moment becoming the passionate, truth demanding, force to be reckoned with that I was created to be. With a man of honor by my side, and a family we hope to build that can’t be touched by the pettiness we are all so familiar with. And one day, God willing, that space for my boy will be filled, restored and a new story will be written. Because I’m the type of woman who won’t let anyone define my truth for me.
I told myself that the only way I’d consider coming back to write is if I could put the past to bed and focus on the beauty in my future.
This is my new beginning. Join me. And never look back.