When I was three, my parents got divorced. The reason? They were young, immature, their love didn’t win with their tempers – my dad’s flirtatious nature and my mom’s fiery personality. They ended up in a huge fight and resentment.
My dad left, my mom blamed him for disappearing. I can’t remember much, apart from tremendous fear and prayers for them to stop fighting and getting back together. At the age of 9, both of them were already in new marriages, but I couldn’t make peace with it and still was bursting in tears every time any of my friends mentioned “I’m going with my PARENTS to the shops” because I never could use the phrase “parents” and that was a wound. Going through so much pain of not having them together by my side, I made a vow to myself, to never get divorced not to make my children suffer like that.
Few chapters of my life later, I was facing me and the dad of my two daughters on the edge of the “cliff” – we both knew it was over. He was already seeing someone, and I knew we’re done, but I couldn’t handle looking at myself in the mirror and each time seeing FAILURE written on my forehead. It was bringing up so much pain and guilt, I could only repress it, and not even mention the option that someday he will build another family. It hurt so much, it was unbearable. Facing that our family was falling apart – I couldn’t stand it.
The excruciating pain led me to confrontation and a big decision. I decided I will not let my family be broken and that we will not be one of these parents that will pass the kids in the threshold of the door, hardly saying hello. We will make it differently.
I thought: some people become friends naturally. We will create this friendship out of decision. We will make it happen.
First steps were to let my ex and his new partner know what I want. It took some time to convince them, but we decided, we will build something extraordinary. We will do our best to make it work as a patchwork, as friends, and I was clear, I will do whatever it takes, to deliver this promise.
I had no idea what I am signing up for and how much of my own stuff I will have to figure out and work on, to get over my wounds, fears and lack of self-trust. I had no idea what route is ahead of me – it was a very long and hard one.
It felt like jumping off the cliff. For a long time, we didn’t know if the parachute will open and if we will “survive”. The processes of each of us, getting over jealousy, anxieties, blame, and working hard on forgiveness in each of us felt like it takes forever and many times one of us wanted to give up on that plan. Reaching out to each other whenever it was hard and talking about it, instead of shutting down, was the most important thing. It was keeping us on the path.
We all knew – it’s a lifetime investment that will be bringing profits to the rest of our days, for us, for our children, for our families. So, it felt like – even if it’s hard just now, we will find our way to the dream. And we did.
The way we live now, is for many not easy to comprehend. We are the closest family to each other. We spend a lot of time together, but also our families are in friendship. It’s almost 30 of us just now, because of our moms, brothers, aunts – we all get along together and meet and spend time together, support and celebrate each other.
My ex-husband and I are best allies. We both stand up for each other, even when we disagree. The amount of respect there is between us is something I wish every person could experience. His partner is like a sister to me. We got over a lot of doubt – if we could be friends, worked out emotions, and she became one of the most important women in my life – that I call to share successes or struggles.
Their twins that were born almost 2 years ago are like nieces for me – and I care about them tremendously – realizing they are sisters of my daughters and I want to be part of their world. It was an effort. It took time, tears, patience, dedication and stubbornness that led us to the place we are.
A few weeks ago, we were celebrating Children’s day, spending it all together with all our kids in the garden, having fun, cuddling, laughing. And as I was watching the amount of joy, happiness, support, bondage – I had tears in my eyes and said to my daughters, my ex and his wife – how much love we would miss if we didn’t make this effort in the past. We cannot even count, what we would have lost. People look at us and cannot believe the “organism” we created. They get inspired and perceive
it as evidence – it’s possible.
As I look back at my vow, I realize I never broke it. I promised not to make my kids suffer. And so, I did. It became clear for me, it’s not the divorce that causes pain, but the way the parents relate with each other afterward. Sometimes bad things happen, people hurt each other, get lost in the marriage and “wake up” when there is no other way but to separate. But we can always choose what we do as a next step. Do we hold the resentment, or do we transform it into forgiveness? Do we drown in
bitterness, or do we heal, let go and move on? And this will determine if the family will be broken… or extended.