[To those curious or interested: The “Left Expecting” blog post has moved to its own domain and is now separate from the kiddos’ letters: Leftexpecting.com]
“Maybe there’s a God above. All I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. And it’s not a cry that you hear at night. It’s not somebody who’s seen the light. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
It’s Saturday night, I just turned 24 weeks pregnant with my second child, a son, and it was this week I learned that my husband of almost 5 years, what would be our 5th anniversary next month will also be our last, because he has been having an affair and thinks he’s in love with someone else now.
Words can’t even explain my devastation, so I’m not even going to try. Heartache is something I know well—I’ve been swept up by tornadoes before—and I find that only does time reveal all the cracks that such monumental decisions of others inflict on my heart and soul. My goal for the next month and year is survival, followed by grief, pain, an eventual acceptance, and someday, peace and happiness once again. I know loss, heartbreak, and men in my life leaving me like I know the back of my hand. I survived the first two—and I know I’ll survive this too. I know this is the worst part, the now, the acute and utter devastation that overtakes my entire body—making it hard to breathe. But I need to have faith that I will breathe again. I’ve sat in these waters before.
You were slowly pulling away, and I saw the signs, but didn’t want to believe them, couldn’t fathom it being true, so I let them go: the lies and secrecy, the use of Twitter consistently, the secret channel of communication you created to keep it from me while I was sitting next to you every night on the couch, the staying up for just a few more minutes after I’ve gone to bed, the polo shirt in place of what should have been a Red Sox T you wore when I knew you weren’t going to Matt’s to “clear your head,” the sudden renewed care in your appearance, the staying at work late, the excitement you had when talking about a female colleague you’re working close on a project with, even bringing our family to the Zoo with her and her family—what suckers we are, the spouses. She’s also married with two young kids—so it isn’t just our family that your combined selfishness destroys. If I didn’t suspect it, you would not have told me, you were playing it out to get the best of both worlds—her and your family. It took my asking pointedly three times before you couldn’t deny it any longer. It was in front of me for weeks—but I was lost in my happiness (and sickness) of a very tough pregnancy, caring for Charley, and the tasks of our daily lives to truly see it.
I don’t have time for the unanswered questions, more of the devastating truths, the scape-goating and blame game you’ve been trudging me through for weeks, the hurtful statements you’re throwing at me because you were cornered and the guilt you carry is heavy, the irrational rationalizing and excuses for inexcusable behavior, the what-ifs right now. I know eventually all will be known, or at least enough for a more clear picture of why my husband would tear apart his family that I know he loves while I’m 5-months pregnant for what is most likely a fleeting work love affair. I need to figure out how to wake up every morning for the foreseen future and get out of bed when my whole world feels like it is being ripped from under my feet–and prepare for a baby who is coming in three months, alone.
I loved my husband with every ounce of my being and every atom in my heart, I would have given him the world, I did, when he’d let me. We have definitely had our struggles and fair share of highs/lows, we’ve been through a lot (A LOT) together: buying two houses plus a house-fire and too many renovations, living with family temporarily, my phd & his career ladder climbing, new parenting, our beautiful baby girl & soon to be son. I will forever love every bit of him and thank him internally every day for the rest of my life for giving me the greatest happiness I’ve ever known, my children. What is happening seems so unbelievable and surreal, I keep thinking I’m going to wake up, this is all a terrible dream, I’ll roll over and you’ll still be sleeping next to me.
This letter is for me—the person that has to survive—and the two most important people in my life, my children, with their own hearts and souls that need protection and unconditional love, since this decision will affect every waking day of the rest of their lives.
Charley and Teddy, I want you to know that at one point in time your parents were blissfully happy and in love, best friends of the utmost degree, equal parts of the “A Team,” both life and love warriors—and that is where you came from—our love for one another. We will always love one another—just not in the same way.
We both wanted children more than we’ve ever wanted anything in our entire lives—and parenting was something that came so naturally to both of us—you are truly the best things that ever happened to either of us, I know no other statement to be more true. You are our everything—and I hope every day for the rest of your lives, you know this with every fiber of your being. You are our hearts and souls outside our bodies, created in love, and will be raised with love—just now from different households.
Your father isn’t thinking straight these days, he’s been overtaken by selfishness and the excitement of a new relationship—but we all know this isn’t the real him, he’s lost himself, but in time, I will forgive him, and so will you. This is not your dad, his behavior, his actions, everything, this is not him– and I need you to know that. With every ounce of me, I will make sure his recent actions have as little impact on you as I can—a mom’s love knows no bounds, it is fiercely protective, unconditionally loving, and will always provide you with unwavering stability and support—through it all, through this.
I have no idea what our future holds, our new threesome with dad living away, I barely know what tomorrow holds, but this I know will be true every day for the rest of our lives: you come first, you always have, you always will.
And finally a note to myself, I know you once thought your days of navigating rough seas were behind you, the last of life-changing heartbreaks you’d have to endure—that would both break you and teach you your inner strength—the thought that experiencing another heartbreak of this caliber would literally break you into a million pieces that would never/ could never find their ways back together.
But you are wrong, this will hurt like hell as expected, but you truly are a survivor, a love warrior, and a love-without-limits human being—and one day, maybe this will all make sense to you. The now broken pieces will find their ways back—and be stronger than before, trust this. Please do not shut yourself off, please don’t think you are broken, unlovable, or a failure. Feel the pain you’re feeling, embrace your vulnerability, use it as your launching pad to a brighter future. Reach out and accept help, you don’t have to carry this torch alone, let others who have walked in your shoes guide you.
Right now you need a tribe. Let them surround you in love, hold you, just please let them in.
You love with everything you have—some people don’t know how to receive it. Focus on you, self-love, and growth. Know this wasn’t your causing, but his own unhappiness with himself, you’re just baring the consequences.
Sometimes things do not work out the way you want or expect them to, you know this, you’ve always known this. Tune out the noise, social media, or the need to explain any of this to anyone—you yourself don’t understand any of this. But you will survive—you will wake up tomorrow and the day after that. You will continue on with life, mothering your children, and someday the pain you’re feeling now won’t feel as soul-shattering. You will survive. And someday life will be beautiful again.
“MANIFESTO OF THE BRAVE AND BROKENHEARTED
There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise with skinned knees and bruised hearts; We choose owning our stories of struggle, over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye. We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes. We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure. Showing up is our power. Story is our way home. Truth is our song. We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.”