The Real Nightmare
A day or two before Christmas I was in bed, struggling to sleep. As often happens during those hours, I thought about some of the crap for which I am responsible. A particular horror is the memory of my son’s reaction when his mother and I told him we would be divorced.
He was in kindergarten at the time, and we were sitting at the dinner table. We told him we would no longer be married, and his mom and dad would live in separate houses. His immediate reaction was to close his eyes and shake his head “no.” He leaned back in his chair and tilted his head toward the ceiling, eyes still closed.
We told him that we both loved him, that we would both take care of him, and that none of this was his fault. I have no idea whether or not he even heard that part.
That is the single most terrible memory I have, and that night, right before Christmas, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I thought about the fact that my son can never again know his world is whole. He spends every Christmas day--his entire life, really--in two different places. He is either with his mom or his dad, and almost never both. There is absolutely nothing I can ever do to change that, and, in fact, I am the primary cause.
I felt more self-loathing and depression than I have in a long time. It had an effect on my spirit that lasted for days. It isn’t something that I can tell my wife, though, because she immediately fears that I am missing my first wife. The marriage is over; I don’t miss it. What I miss is my son’s security and contentment in knowing that his world is complete.
I hate the feeling that comes with imagining and reliving my son’s anguish, but I have only myself to blame.