My children's paternal grandmother, Leona, passed away in December. Her family decided to have her funeral in February. My daughter wanted to go and I agreed to go with her this past weekend. I have always loved my ex-husband, Jim, and I was so very "in" love with his family. Walking into Leona's home the other night was a step back in time. Seeing everyone was nearly overwhelming for me. After all theses decades, they made me feel at home. Welcome. It was as if years of separation had never happened.
Jim was a wonderful man, a very caring and compassionate husband and an awesome father. It was me, my secrets and my mental illness. I think I was mentally ill long before my marriage but the birth of my daughter and the depression that followed was my first glimpse into hell. I thought my husband was my dad and I was my mother and Trisha was me. I couldn't make sense of the world or anything in it. My husband went to our doctor and the doctor ordered a prescription of Valium for me (my start into the world of addiction).
I somehow felt I had to hide who I really was from everyone. My husband was the oldest of 10 and hiding in his large family was easy. I loved them and for the first time I understood the meaning of family. I never had a real family. Jim's family made me feel loved, protected and secure. The large stately home they lived in was my sanctuary. I went there all the time and I couldn't have been happier and I was never again saner.
Jim went into the Army, his family moved to Florida and I had two more children, my sons. During my third pregnancy Jim had to leave for his third tour in Viet Nam. I was in horrible shape mentally. Jim did everything he could do to stay home with me. He took me to Army doctors and they said I would be fine just have a couple drinks before bed to help me sleep. (My first steps into alcoholism.) He left and just before our second son was born Viet Nam ended. My husband came home and we bundled up our new baby boy and headed off to Fort Sill, OK.
The third kid was overwhelming for me. I couldn't figure out how to take care of three of them. I only had two arms. Who would I save in a fire? What would I do? Big Jim worked nights and I was so terrified. He brought a hand gun home but that made me more fearful and so he had to take it away. My third kid was very ill and would stop breathing often. He wasn't gaining weight, couldn't hold up his head and was not connected to the world. The doctors thought he had mental issues because the cord was wrapped around his neck at birth. It turned out to be allergies but the damage to my mental health was swift and severe. The solution for me was more Valium or Librium and booze.
I met a woman during that madness and she would take my hand and walk with me into the very pits of addiction, alcoholism and insanity. She helped me find the false courage I needed to get divorced. Many years before, in the late 1960's, I had left Jim. My parents with my daughters Godparents told me if I divorced him they would go to court and have Trisha (my only child at the time) taken away from me. So, I felt like I had go as far away from family as I could. Besides, why would they want to hear from me anyhow? I moved to California and stayed low. I would never give up my babies. Never. By now deep paranoia had set in. I self medicated and drank more and more. I stayed in the pits of hell for nearly ten years until 1984. That is when I found Dr Jacob and my 12 step program.
No one will ever know how much I still mourn the loss of my husband and his family. How much I wish my children could have known the normalcy and love this family would have freely given them. I often wonder how things would have been different for me and my children if and if. This weekend I was able to tell Jim's wife of 20 plus years how much I appreciate her. Jim deserves happiness and a good wife who can take care of him. I was able to tell Jim I will love him until my last breath and I am so sorry I couldn't be the wife he needed and deserved. I was able to embrace and be embraced by the people that taught me to love and to be loved, for the first time in my life, all those years ago.
Thank you to my Higher Power for the gift of one of the most beautiful, bitter-sweet weekends of my life. I only pray today for forgiveness from this family and my children. Your will Father not mine.