Why people divorce…
It’s funny the things you are told at different times throughout this process. Certain ones stick out, like the first time you are told a cure rate, or when there are no options left. But after the process is over, you start a whole new journey and people don’t really know what to say, so sometimes they say things that make you take a step back and you can’t forget them. When I was talking to a grief counselor after her death, the counselor told me that parents who have lost a child tend to take one of three paths after the death:
- They have a baby.
- The pick up and move away.
- They get divorced.
I was not planning to have any more children and I wasn’t planning to move away either. So does this mean that I’m headed for divorce? I started analyzing these scenarios and the longer I go into this process, the more I understand how these roads are taken. I get the baby piece. Our house does feel very empty these days and if I were younger, I could see trying to fill a little bit of the void in these empty bedrooms. I think my vagina would tell me, “Get real you old bag of bones.” I can understand why people move away. Sometimes you want a fresh start. You want to go somewhere where people don’t know your tragedy and you aren’t tripping over the memories of your dead child everywhere you turn. You don’t have to watch their friends grow up and see all the life events they should be a part of. I get it.
I’m so thankful that people weren’t watching Stuart and I under a microscope during the years of Isabella’s treatment. It wasn’t always pretty. You chose this person to spend your life with, and in many scenarios you pick this person because they are so different than you are. They “complete” you, as Jerry McGuire would say. But what you aren’t prepared for is how different this person is from you in a high-stress situation. And have that high-stress environment be life or death, and have it last for 5 years.
Stuart handles stress by wanting to talk through a MILLION different scenarios. What if this happens, what if that happens…so on and so on. I’m a little different. I like to crawl into the hole that is my bed, sleep, and not talk to anyone. He would want to talk to me until he was blue in the face, but I wasn’t interested in listening or talking. I wanted to be alone and I wanted it to be quiet. So many times during her relapses, you would find me in a dark room for days. I would shut everyone out and deal with the pain and fear alone. Stuart would be cleaning out the garage or organizing the kids’ spring clothing. He needed to keep his mind busy because I couldn’t help him.
I always compared our journey together like being two hamsters in that big clear ball. You put them both in together and see what happens. One starts running one way, and one starts running the other or one of them doesn’t want to run. The ball has trouble moving because the two hamsters are inside flailing around. In the end, one hamster probably kills the other one and eats it. Welcome to a marriage in the world of children’s cancer.
Your marriage ends up having issues that have to be swept under the rug because you don’t have time to deal with them. You hit a remission, you pull these ugly skeletons out from under the rug and they are bigger and nastier than they have ever been. The slightest comment from either of you is like sandpaper to the other and you are just rubbing each other raw in your day-to-day life. You know that you should cut the other person a break because they are dealing with something too. But you are too selfish to do that, and so is he. Add the fact that my Mom lived with us too added to marriage stress. Chew on that!
Then she dies. What the fuck are you going to do with each other now? And who are these kids that someone else pretty much had to raise the last couple of years? Now you are all left as strangers together.
The grieving process comes in waves for each of us. When one is grieving the other one isn’t. Stuart has a hard time pulling it together around Christmas and I get pissed because it’s ruining the day for all of us. I have a hard time around her birthday because I actually gave birth to her and remember every stinking thing around the situation. I spend this day in bed while Stuart mows the lawn. Grant’s grief comes out of nowhere and slaps us in the face when we walk in and see him watching our PR video and sobbing. We are all on different paths and need to be consoled by people who can’t console themselves, let alone help another person.
Even now I find that I have become so closed off and cold. I barely need anyone or anything in my life. Stuart however has gone the opposite way and has a large need for love and attention. I want to be left alone and he wants to be swallowed up whole and smothered by love. And we both go through times where we have trouble being in this house or getting out of bed. So what do you do?
I guess people divorce because what they need is impossible to get from their partner but their partner is so broken. But who wants either one of us? Who wants to deal with the hot mess that each of us has become. So instead you stay together and keep telling yourself that we will somehow come through the other side of this. We are bonded for life from this experience. Every day you think, I’m going to work on meeting them in the middle, they deserve that after all they have been through. Each year on our anniversary I feel like we toast each other and think, “Who would have thought we would be here?” But we are. Still standing, but wounded and holding on.