Not many things have broken me through this whole process. There are, however, two things that I simply cannot process without feeling my soul tear to shreds.
The first is my children. I am broken over their inevitable hurt and loss.
The second is my family. I'm not worried about my biological family. They're stuck with me regardless. My in-laws, however... they aren't. Sure I'll still be somewhat in the picture on account of the boys, but by and large, to them, I am nothing. Well, I guess I will be.
That hurts more than I can express.
I've never had a great relationship with my own family. For most of my life, I was viewed as a black sheep. I didn't mind this all that much, but it did make me appreciate the welcome I got from John's family. I didn't have to make apologies because there were no misconceptions about who I was. It was a liberating, joyous thing because if there's anything I value, it's family. So for as quickly as they adopted me, I returned their affection seven-fold.
I've been part of this family for 11 years. Now I'm being thrust out of it by someone who doesn't fully appreciate the value of family. He never made the connections with my family that I made with his. Sure, he and my brother get along great, but he never makes an attempt to go see him. I, on the other hand, am always trying to carve out time for family functions. He complains even when we go to stuff for his own family. I just don't get it. I love his family and love spending time with them, but all he can do is complain how it's a waste of time, or so-and-so will be there to make it annoying.
I relish spending time with his family. He tends to relegate himself to the couch with one or two cousins or his sisters to chat while I'm bubbling about talking to everyone else. I enjoy those conversations; he finds them to be pointless nonsense. It's not because of being introverted/extroverted, either. He'll be the life of the party when he's in the midst of friends, but when he's with the family as a whole, he tends to blend into the background unless his father is there (mostly because his father is such a big personality that everyone orbits around him, and with John being close to his dad, he enjoys the fruits of that orbiting).
I dunno. I just never understood John's frustration with his family because they're such good people. I love them all so much and appreciate everything they've ever done to support John, Vince and I. They're so loving, so generous and so thoughtful. To know that I'm going to be ostracized from this group pains me to no end.
I don't think they'd kick me to the curb upon hearing of divorce, mind you. But I know that slowly, I'll be omitted from things. I understand that is the inevitable reality of a broken family. I don't necessarily believe anyone would treat me maliciously, but there's going to be an undercurrent of "she hurt one of our own" because when it comes down to it - I am not one of their own; John is. Vince and Nate are. But me? I am nothing. It will be much easier to blame me than John for whatever perceived issue caused the divorce.
And given that John has thrown me under the bus to these people in the past, it will be a simple conclusion to come to for them with heartbreaking results for me.
What's worse is I'll have no support from my own biological family either. I've never - EVER - spoken poorly of John to any of them. No matter how difficult my marriage to him has been, I've never given my family a hint that there might be something wrong. Why? Because I never wanted to give them any reason to dislike John. I never wanted to give them ammo to use with which to talk behind his back. My mother constantly praises John for what a great SIL he is. She has no idea and never will.
When I do finally tell her of the divorce, I will take all blame strictly on my shoulders. I will leave no trace of doubt that this divorce was my fault, my choice, and my doing. Why? Because I grew up hearing nothing but awful things about my own father. Granted, they were true things, but they still probably shouldn't have been said in front of children. My sister's children now spend a good chunk of time at my mother's house and unfortunately, their father is often a hot topic of conversation - specifically how worthless he is as a father and general human being. It's a terrible situation for those children (and my sister) to be in.
Thus, I refuse to enable them to have any information about John (true or not) that would solicit that sort of behavior in front of my own children. They deserve to grow up thinking their father is a superhero. They don't deserve to hear how much of a disappointment he is, how much of a scumbag he is for leaving his pregnant wife, how much of a disgrace he is for turning his back on his vows.
The only way to protect them from that is to shoulder the burden, myself. I'm not complaining or acting the part of martyr, mind you. Please don't think that. I've spoken to my priest-friend about it and, fully understanding the situation, begrudgingly agreed that my logic was sound.
I feel very much alone in this. I'm so grateful for the few friends who know who have supported me so well, but this is a path I know I must tread alone.
I mean, what do I even call his family members anymore? Do I get to call his parents Ma and Dad? I don't foresee my relationship with my MIL changing, so I think I'd still feel comfortable calling her "Ma," but my FIL?
Oh that kills me.
As I've said before, my FIL has been more a father to me than my own biological one. I love him deeply, and I respect him so much, but it's that same respect that sorta makes me so self-aware around him. He's actually the only person in the world who solicits that response from me, and I think it's because I feel wholly unworthy to be in his presence because he's done so much for me and there's just nothing I will ever be able to do to repay him.
The only time I felt like I'd finally - FINALLY - done something well for him was the moment I handed Vincent to him for the first time. I had just delivered him, and I wouldn't let anyone touch him until I could hand him off to John Sr. I still get choked up when I think of that moment. Knowing how much John Sr. loves family, I knew than handing him his first grandson was the closest I'd ever come to scratching the surface of a payback. Mind you, I know he's never looking to be paid back for anything he's done, but still... it felt so good to finally offer him something of worth.
That's why I was so excited to finally announce Nate's pregnancy. Again, I could finally gift him a new grandchild to take up space in his heart. Heck, the pecking order for my excitement went like this:
1) We're having another baby - YAY!!!
2) Vincent's finally getting a sibling - YAY!!!
3) I can finally give John Sr. another grandchild - YAY!!!
And now? Now I feel like I've disappointed him because his dreams for a happy ever after for his son are dashed. He was confident that I was the right woman for his son, and now his son is telling him that I'm not and I've been a mistake all along.
God help me... losing my father is almost as bad as a losing my husband. It's not because I'm worried I won't get to go on fun trips anymore... or that I'm upset I won't get fancy Christmas presents. None of that matters to me. What matters is that his view of me is going to change if it hasn't already. I'm no longer a daughter... I'm an ex, and maybe worse.
True, I'll always be the mother of his grandsons, but who knows how long that will save me from bitterness and blame?
Oh heaven - I love my MIL / FIL so much. I don't believe my MIL will ever view me negatively, but for my FIL (who is so close to John in so many ways)... I truly do mourn for what is to come.
And finally, what of my niece? Am I no longer to be "Aunt Gina?" Do I not get to purchase her fun things and have her over to play with Vince and Nate because I'm not technically her aunt anymore?
Again, God help me. I love this family and I feel like I'm being stripped of those I value most. And for what? For what?
So John can go chase the unicorn of a perfect family? He's a fool. He HAS the perfect family, he's just too blind to recognize that.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.