When your ex-husband and the father of your children is an alcoholic or addict, there are certain things that happen to your heart. There are things you have to do to convince yourself things are fine. You change the rules. Stretch the boundaries of what you thought you’d ever accept. You block off pieces of the truth and rewrite the story in such a way that everyone survives victorious in spite of the facts that surround you.
When the beautifully heart-breaking letter from Scott Weiland’s ex-wife came out the other day, I saw the likely future for me and my sons.
The truth is that after nearly two years of separation, and many years before that of living a life that shattered my heart, I have learned how to put the pieces back together for myself. I’ve gained a lot of strength and managed to forgive things I never expected I’d be able to forgive.
It’s been a healing journey for me—a painfully excruciating, healing journey.
But the journey of healing for my sons hasn’t even started yet. They don’t even totally understand they’re on this journey. They’re young enough that the way our life looks is just normal to them. They have questions sometimes about where their dad is. They talk about how they miss him and want to see him every now and then. And about once a month when they do see him, it’s like their favorite rock star came to perform just for them.
The details of Scott Weiland’s life are different from my ex-husband’s. My ex isn’t a rock star. The whole world doesn’t care about his life or how it ends. But to my sons, he is like a rock star, and even if he falls out of their life forever, he will impact their individual worlds.
Those facts are inevitable.
No matter what I do, the truth will always be that he is their father; and that will always carry weight in the hearts of my children.
Unlike Scott Weiland, my ex is still alive. His body is, at least. He’s living his life the way he wants to and to him, he likely feels very much alive.
My sons and I have learned how to accept his monthly appearances. I’ve learned to forgive his absence and lack of effort. I’ve learned to say, “We’re better off this way, and my sons will be just fine.” And that’s the truth. We are, and they will. But 100 percent of the men and women I’ve known whose fathers operated like the father of my children have unfillable holes in their hearts.
They forgive. They heal. They move on, and they say things like, “Whatever. I was better off without him. I didn’t need him then, and I don’t need him now.”
I’m sure my sons will someday say those words. I’m positive they will grow up to be strong, brave, courageous men of the world despite the inconsistency and unreliability of their father. However, there is no denying that no matter how it plays out, there will always be a slight nagging sense of sadness that sits in their chest, just as it does in mine, for the reality of his life.
Miracles happen every day, and I still pray that somehow he sees the light and changes his view of his role as a father and steps into it. But the more likely outcome is that the miracle I prayed for five years ago may never come to fruition.
The hope of that miracle died for me over a year ago. But my sons? My sons aren’t old enough to release that yet.
There will come a day that my sons will mourn the loss of their father, whether he’s still alive or not, just as I have. I can’t shield them from that because I have no control over his choices and behaviors. I can guard my sons, and I can place as many protective barriers around them throughout their lives as humanly possible. I can love them enough for both of us, and I can offer them a strong family who fills in the gaps left by their father. I can teach them that their heavenly father is all they really need and that He will never fail them or leave them.
But nothing fully fills that gap. Not really.
We adjust. We adapt. We accept. We forgive. But the truth is the truth no matter what we do, and as long as we have human flesh and beating hearts, we will feel that in the core of our bones.
A father, even when he and his children’s mother can’t be together, should be there for his children. A father should place his children above all else. A father should understand the magnitude of his role and the monumental responsibility it is to bring children into the world, and then he should do everything in his power to honor that.
When he doesn’t respect his role, it isn’t just him that suffers. It’s his kids. Forever. In some way, for good or bad, a father’s choices and decisions impacts the lives of his children. It shapes the way they view themselves, and ultimately, it colors the lens through which they view everything.
Some people are incapable of shouldering that burden. So then the yoke falls on their children; and no matter what I do to lift that weight off of my sons, it will be there in some capacity.
It’s wildly unfair, and it’s why I’ve had to reshape my heart and change my thinking in order to survive the cruelty of it all. A mother is supposed to protect her children, but I can’t even protect mine from the reality of their own father.
I will spend my whole life trying though.
I have no idea how our story will play out—no control over any piece of it that involves him. All I can control is me. I can pray. I can foster healthy relationships, and surround my sons with positive influences and strong male role models. I can forgive. I can speak truth in love. And I can hold out hope that the best things for all of us happen, even if that means he is absent from their lives.
For now, even though he shows up once a month to make his rock star appearance for the boys, he’s still missing everything. Someday my sons will understand that, and it’ll be me who picks up those pieces for them.
Unlike Scott Weiland, my ex still has a chance to change the end of this story—first for himself and second for our sons. I pray that happens. But for now, just as Mary Forsberg Weiland stated in her letter, “The truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago.”
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