March 30, 2014

Broken

My family is broken. I am broken and my kids are broken. Life will go on and we will all survive but our lives have been irrevocably changed by a single act of selfishness. On January 29 my husband of 25 years called me from a business trip declaring he was not happy and wanted to spend the rest of his life dancing, doing yoga and living on the road. He no longer wants to be a husband and by default has become an absentee father.  Those are the facts.
What used to be
I could spend a lot of time analyzing John’s behavior – certainly after a year of graduate level social work there are many diagnoses as well an interventions I could suggest, but I will not. In the end, what John did and for whatever reasons are private and I will not bash him in this very public forum. Actually I am quite surprised I am even writing this, but you see I have experience with grief, particularly as it relates to readjusting your dreams.
When Alex was born I grieved for our future. The following is from the first chapter of our book “From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome”.

Grief is a natural process, and I believe the way we learn to accept and embrace the unexpected. We did not know Alex was going to have Down syndrome nor did we know very much about Down syndrome. As with any unanticipated event in our lives this period of adjustment was necessary for John, me and our family.
I now know what we experienced was the grieving process, and admittedly for the first few hours it was about us and the “why and how”. Why did Alex have Down syndrome? Why did this happen to us? How can we tell our families, who were so excited about the prospect of another baby, that ours was different? How do we share our sadness, but still try to put on a happy face? Why, why, how, how, it was almost as if we felt sorry for ourselves.

And here I am almost 21 years later reliving those feelings over and over again.  But unlike 21 years ago my grief has not subsided in six weeks, it has ebbed and flowed. My sadness changes with the weather and my kids. Some days are really great and some days I am so consumed by my sadness, my kids’ sadness and failure I can not function.
John called my oldest and youngest at college, in between classes, minutes after he called me and shared the same story with them. He told me was too scared to call Alex and needed me to help him. Here I will be judgmental – all our kids deserve the same respect Alex was shown and my son is suffering tremendously from this. I feel like sometimes we can not escape this darkness.

However, I know I will escape the darkness and I know my kids will all be fine. I have lived this before, and learned how the birth of a child with Down syndrome became a life of happiness, joy and love. From Alex we learned what life can be when you realize that your path is different than you thought, when you embrace change and trust in your higher power. Grief is only a flicker in time, and although it seems like an eternity, it will lift and the world will be full of light.  My kids will be happy and healthy, I will grow old with them and their kids and I will feel completely fulfilled. And this is what keeps me going on the darkest days until I can remember my marriage and husband as successes not failures.
My family, friends and kids have been kind, and there beside me. When Alex was born I did not know how to tell the world, and gradually day by day let people know. In the end I wrote a letter to everyone and the outpouring of love and support fueled me for the days and nights ahead. And today 20 years and nine months later I share again.

My family is not broken. I am not broken and my kids are not broken, we are merely different.

 

26 comments:

  1. Wow Gary.... not sure there's anything I can say - but we're here for you!

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    1. Thanks so much Stephanie - turns out writing is very cathartic!

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  2. Oh Gary, I am sad for you and the kids. But I loved the truth you shared in the last sentence. I am wishing you peace and strength.

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    1. Thanks! I hope I can continue to believe that - but I know in my core it is true!

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  3. No words come to me. Know that our arms are around you and one day it will ultimately be you doing all the dancing.

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    1. Thanks Joyce - I cant wait to dance and it will happen. Me and my kids!

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  4. Gary, what a difficult phone call that must have been for you. I'm sorry you're going through this; I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

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    1. Thanks Cindy - I really appreciate the prayers!

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  5. Praying for you all and admiring your strength bravery and honesty.

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  6. You are in my thoughts.... So sorry!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts... Grief does shift and change, it does make us survivors.

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    1. So true Alice - it certainly does put life in perspective!

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  7. So sorry! Know that you are in my thoghts!
    Thank you for your beautiful words. We who have had tremendous grief in our lives know about resiliency.... Not without pain, but we survive.

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  8. I can't even imagine what you are going through; lots of prayers and virtual hugs to you and your kids!

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    1. Thank you so much - I love virtual hugs!

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  9. I'm so sorry for the difficulty and challenges life has thrown at your lately, or more specifically, your husband! I can't imagine what a shock that must've been after 25 yrs of marriage. Be kind to yourself and do what you need to do to redefine your family and move forward. Sending you some virtual hugs and strength.

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    1. Thank Michelle, lots happen in 25 years and we all change. I don't wish this on anyone - but I feel in the end we will all be better. Thanks for the virtual hugs!

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  10. Greetings from Montreal, Canada. I just found your blog today and wanted to say that I am so sorry for everything you are going through at this time. I will keep you in my prayers.

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    1. Linda - I am SO glad you found our blog....and so sorry you started with such a downer of a post. Keep reading...and like us on FB!

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  11. I'm so sorry. I want to quote Hemingway but, no, you are NOT broken. I've been in your children's shoes three times now and can emphatically say that it's just different. The world keeps spinning but you already know how to stand up and find the sun again - may you & your children do so with peace and grace. We will be here.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so glad to know that kids survive and hopefully learn what is important in a spouse so this never happens to them. Love Hemingway!

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  12. I'm so sorry. Praying for peace for you and your family.

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  13. Gary, you amaze me with your inner strength for your family and yourself. I am so sorry to hear this news, but I am certain that it is his loss, and you will weather the storm and blossom again.

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    1. You are so kind! I love that I amaze you :)

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