Posted by: shelliejelly | November 18, 2009

I’m all lost

A recurring theme in my divorce is the almost obsessive need I have to get it right. I subconsciously try to put all the pieces together so that Sabine will get through this part of her childhood with as few scars as possible. I want to believe that all the right moves will secure her heart, keep her from ever feeling torn or betrayed or abandoned.

But somehow, even while scrambling around doing everything within my power to prevent the worst-case scenario from happening, I know some of the outcome is beyond my control. Knowing and letting go of the impulse to try and control the process, however, is difficult. I don’t want to fail again. I don’t want her to grow up regretting I’m her mother.

Some of Sabine’s recent drawings are of sad people. She’ll draw her family:  me, O. and her, and then, sometimes, she’ll include another little body who has tears. She’ll point to the stick figure and tell me he’s sad. Why? Because he misses his daddy, she most often responds. You know, Sabine, if you’re sad and missing your daddy, you can talk to me about your feelings.

I don’t push; I don’t force; I don’t follow her around asking every minute or two if she’s okay. I understand that even at three a part of this journey is hers alone to make. But I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t want to press her against me, somehow breathe into her everything my heart, my mind, my body knows about her place in this sometimes confusing world. There is so much love around you, little girl. You are wanted and valued in ways you’re much too young to understand. You change lives for the better, and every day I get to watch you navigate your way in this world is astounding to me. I see new possibility because of you; I feel more myself because I’m your mother.

Some of the problem, too, is that I myself am lost at times. Tears well up in my eyes at the most inconvenient places as I think, This is my life now, alone and single. A tangle of avenues converge upon me and I have no idea which one to choose, which paths I should try and which paths I should continue to throw road blocks up against. There are days I want to be angry and bitter; there are days I want my old life back at whatever cost to myself; there are days when I feel free, at last, from the burden of having to drag a partner behind me instead of walking side by side; there are days when I feel so guilty and heartsick I can’t help but think I’m paying a penance.

And I wonder, how can I help Sabine find clarity when my own vision is so horribly distorted? You can’t, I admonish myself on my worst days. You’ll find a way; you’ll both find a way, I allow myself to believe on my best days.



  1. as a mother of four children (11,8,6 and 4) on the verge of separation, i can say i understand your need to get it right – not for yourself, but for your kids. i also hear you saying that you feel lost, angry and bitter and i can’t imagine the pain you are going through. i will say that you sound strong, you sound like you are thinking clearly, you sound like you are looking forward to your new journey, despite how hard it will be. i don’t believe that you are somehow paying a penance. people change, grow apart – if we all had a crystal ball when we got married, would it all be okay? no, we would still make mistakes, our imperfections would come through. i look at all of my troubles as times of growth, times that i have succeeded in overcoming them. remember your conviction, your strength and just take it hour by hour if you have to. love your daughter, that is all you can do. you don’t have to have all of the answers – just be the loving mother you are to her and she will know. and when you are feeling bad, like you don’t want to leave the house, think about what you could do for a friend and do it – make cookies, go to the grocery and smile at people, make a connection, a difference in someway – your cup will run over if you do this and you will feel happiness come back to you and fill you up. take care and remember that your way is your own unique way – no book was written on how it would turn out, how it will turn out (at least no book we will ever read) – just do your best and remember to love, love, love. in the end that is all we have. take care.

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