Friday, July 11, 2008

The things you lose...

I am starting a series today on this site. You lose a lot more in a divorce than just tangible belongings and child support money. You lose a part of your heart and soul and all that goes along with that. On the advice of a friend I am beginning a series of thoughts about what it is you lose and how it effects you and those around you. Some of this is basic and some of it is stuff most people don't think about unless they've been through a divorce. I'm hoping that it will explain some of the lingering sadness many folks feel who endure a divorce and maybe it might shine a light of reality on divorce and save one or two folks from having to walk down this road. PLease keep in mind that some of these posts may very well be about the way I once felt during the course of the last 8 years, and some of them are how it still feels. It isn't a state of perpetual grief.

Today's topic is Love.

love ?? (lv) KEY ?


A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.

Sexual passion.
Sexual intercourse.
A love affair.
An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.
A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.
An expression of one's affection: Send him my love.

A strong predilection or enthusiasm: a love of language.
The object of such an enthusiasm: The outdoors is her greatest love.

I lost a lot when I got divorced. I lost hopes and dreams and holidays and daddy moments. I lost my love.
Those of you who knew us, knew that Holly and I experienced a lot of non-loving moments in our marriage. But there was a time when we were in love with each other. I am now able to admit that I was probably a lot more in love with her than she was with me but regardless, we had our times of happiness and felt love for each other, brief as it might have been for her.
For me it went deeper and lasted much longer. Marriage was the final step in one dream for my life and the first step for about a hundred other dreams. The final step in so much as I believed I had found my "one thing" and planned on spending the rest of our lives together. The first step in all the dreams I was now making as a married man and as half of a whole and no longer just me, myself, and I. I had formed some life plans before meeting Holly and I altered them after we married. Instead of continuing with college, finishing my last 3 classes and waiting for acceptance to med school, we moved to Nashville, had a baby, and I tried to patch together a "plan B" for a career. I failed miserably and that was maybe the biggest contributor to our demise. I knew I wanted to be a Physicians Assistant and then ultimately a Pediatric orthopedist, I just didn't know what to do after that was no longer an option. It was a shame because I would have made a terrific Ped surgeon. I had the privilege of working with Dr. J. Richard Bowen, Chief of Orthopedics at DuPont Hospital for Children for 2 years as a student observer / preceptorship and I fell in love with that discipline of medicine. Dr. Bowen wrote a wonderful 3 page reference letter for me for admission to med school and to this day I cannot read it all the way through without getting teary eyed. To know that a man I admire as much or more than any other man alive, and who is the preeminent in his field, thought that highly of my abilities was an honor I can never fully comprehend.
But that was not to be. Holly and I had a baby coming and we celebrated out first anniversary in February and Morgan arrived in May. I was a dad, I was 850 miles from home, and I had a life to build. I worked at construction for a year and after nearly losing my thumb to a table saw, I decided I needed something that paid better and beat me up less. So I entered the mortgage industry and am still in it today...although just barely these days.
I worked hard to become very very good at my job. But it takes a long time to achieve success in this field and it cost me my marriage in the end. I didn't mind the struggles financially myself. I always knew that Holly and I could make it eventually. We were both educated professional, and hard working. In my mind it was simply a matter of time and we'd be fine. A year, maybe two, and then we'd look back on all this struggle and chuckle to ourselves. It would one day migrate from a fight-causing, stress inducing, minefield, to a great set of "remember when we..." stories. We would regale our kids with stories of our early poverty as we strapped them into their own BMW's and sent them off to Harvard, (or Liberty...always the faithful alumni). In my mind you plant the seeds of struggle and leanness early and year later you reap not just monetarily but emotionally. In my mind I was just waiting for that one moment when our struggles would bond us and we would be united in our battle against the wolves at the door and then in that moment we would start taking back lost ground. In that moment we would discover the real depth of our love for each other and for what we had created together.
I'll pause while you finish snickering at my romantic foolishness.
Honestly...I really did feel that way. All we endured was worth it to me because I was enduring it for them...for Holly and Morgan and our future. My one and only hearts desire was to take care of my family. They were the object of my love and desire and I gladly gave up my own pursuits to try to accomplish something for us. My love for Holly had expanded from simply the love of a man for a woman who had become his wife and whom he thought was breathtaking, to the love of who she was and the love of the thoughts of seeing her dreams come true. I now had a daughter that I loved as well and the enormity of my responsibility to take care of her and see her dreams come true weighed on me as well. Not only was I in love with Holly-I loved her. I thought she was really cool. I loved the sound of her voice and her mannerisms. We are very very different people. But the things that were so different about her were the things I found that I loved the most. Tragically I only realized all of this after she was gone. I had never seen the sort of loving admiration demonstrated in my life. I didn't grow up in a home where two people treasured each other and valued the differences between them. I wasn't equipped for the life we were trying to lead and I blew it. Disappointment turned to anger and anger led to battles and we ended up divorced.
I wanted so desperately to be able to show the love I held in my heart but I didn't have the resources to do it. My pride was wounded and I was losing the object of my desire and love and I fought back with anger instead of gentleness. We both did.
Now, eight years later, I have the same heart, the same emotions, I am the same man, but I don't have an object of my desire and passion. I'm not even remotely referring to the physical here...there are plenty of dates to be had if I was so inclined. I mean someone else to want to dream for and with, somebody else who might become so dear to me that I would want only their best before mine is even considered. I invested so much of my spirit and failed so terribly. The love I speak of keeps you working when the job is miserable and the pay is low. It keeps you believing even when common sense tells you to give up. It guides your thoughts and it shapes your dreams. It's the scene in "Cinderella Man" where James Braddock is taking an awful beating and his mind flashes to his three kids starving and his wife in tears, and it gives him the strength to wade back into those punches and start punching back until he beats the foe into submission. "I'm fighting for milk money" as Braddock said. That is love. Take that away from him and maybe the boxing world might never have seen the display of courage and heart that it took for Braddock to become a world champion as his family lived in a tenement basement.
Take that from a man and he drifts through life...the punches hurt more and there is less and less reason to wade back into the firestorm. Love endures, the Bible tells us...without love, it's so very much harder to endure.

No comments: