Abandonment — by Cara
This is the second part of a two part series for this blog.
A feeling of isolation within a relationship
An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
An aloneness not by choice
A woman left by her husband of twenty years
A girl grieving over the death of her mother
Abandonment is all of this and more. It’s wound is at the heart of human experience.
(Excerpted from the book,” The Journey from Abandonment to Healing,” by Susan Anderson, C.S.W.)
The most important purpose for this blog concerns my son. For my husband and I to live under the same roof as “housemates” (AND my husband works from home!), moreover, for it not to be affecting our son in any noticeable way, is downright amazing. And I give my husband and I credit to limiting our disagreements for when our son is not at home. But more importantly, I saw last week how completely vital both my husband and I are to my son at this point in his life.
My husband travels frequently…usually twice a month, for about 3 days per trip. Last week my husband was gone from very early Wednesday morning (my son had just woken up…and he’s an early bird!) to very late on Sunday (almost when my son fell asleep). I could tell by Friday, my son was getting depressed and missing his father. To make matters worse, it had been raining, and predicted to rain the entire weekend. I get severe, chronic pain if we are going to get very bad weather. I was in so much pain, I wanted to gnaw on wood. I had to take my medication with codeine, which meant I wouldn’t be able to drive. I could barely remain awake. My son kept asking when Daddy would be home. I told him 2 more days. My “husband” and I set up Skype on both of our computers so that my son could see and speak to his father while my husband was away. We used Skype both Wednesday and Thursday with my son. My son was elated with this piece of technology! I was elated for my son. But on Friday, my husband was out to dinner with clients and couldn’t get to his hotel to Skype with my son. My son was terribly disappointed. I was too. And in atrocious pain. I slept with my little boy that night.
Knowing I was in so much pain, my Father-in-Law (bless his heart), called early Saturday and offered to take my son to his Karate class and then out to lunch and back to my In-laws house for part of the day. My son couldn’t stay cooped up in the house (especially an ADD child!) with a mother who could barely make meals. So I thanked my Father-in-Law profusely! My son didn’t want to go to Karate. He wanted to go on Skype to see Daddy. My husband was in Texas, and with the time zone change, I knew he wouldn’t appreciate me calling early, but I do what is in the best interest of my son now. I called my husband. I got voicemail and left a message. I texted my husband. No response. My husband used to leave me his flight and hotel itinerary whenever he went away. Forget that. He could be on the moon for all I knew. So I had to tell my son that Daddy was sleeping late and that we would try to “Skype” him later. My son reluctantly went out with my Father-in-Law.
I fell asleep from all of the codeine in my system but woke from a call from my Mother-in-Law, saying that my son was “irritable” and “whiny” and wanted to go home badly to “see” Daddy. I knew he wanted to try to “Skype” with my husband. So while my Father-in-Law was driving my son back home, I called my husband. He couldn’t Skype because he was on his way out to a conference. He couldn’t get calls during the conference, which would last at least 2 hours. My heart sunk for my little boy. I pleaded with my husband to try to at least find a few minutes to call and speak with my son because my son needed to hear his father’s voice. My husband said that he would “try” later.
My son came home and asked to “see” Daddy. I tried to explain that Daddy said he would call later. He wanted to know when Daddy would be coming home. I told him tomorrow. The two of us were a pair of zombies in front of the television. Me in terrible physical pain, my son in terrible emotional pain.
Later that night, after a full day of not hearing from my husband, and before he brushed his teeth, my son asked, “Mommy? Is Daddy dead?” My heart skipped a beat, but I calmly said, no, Daddy was just very busy on his trip. My son doesn’t really understand the concept of death. My father used to live with us before he died. Once my father DID die, we explained that Grandpa would always be with us in our hearts and our memories, but would not physically be coming back home. Five minutes after my son fell asleep, my husband texted me to see if he could speak to our son. I told him no. Our son had just fallen asleep. I slept with my son that night as well. I held his little hand in mine.
Finally it was Sunday. My husband called early because he had to catch an early flight back and he could tell through my numerous attempts, that my son wanted to speak with him. My son was so happy and excited! He wanted to Skype with his father, but my husband was already in a taxi on his way to the airport, so he couldn’t Skype. My husband promised that he would call my son before his plane took off.
When my son got off the phone, he eagerly wanted to know EXACTLY on the clock when Daddy would be home. He told us his plane was to arrive at approximately 3:00 pm. My son planted himself down and would not budge from the house. I was still having residual pain, so I couldn’t take my son anywhere. My Father-in-Law called. He wanted to spend some time with my son. My son adamantly declined; he was waiting for his Daddy to come home. He refused to leave the house.
The rain was pouring outside; thunder was heard periodically. We received a call from my husband…due to the thunderstorms in New York, his flight would be delayed for at least a few hours. My heart sunk for my son. I had to gather up the courage to tell him that Daddy would be delayed by a few hours. My son insisted on wanting to now EXACTLY when Daddy would arrive home. I said I wasn’t sure. But I reassured my son that Daddy WAS coming home.
My son was depressed the rest of the day. He did not want to do anything. He didn’t want to play a game, play some cards, put Legos together…all things that I honestly was in too much pain to want to do, but if it lifted my son’s spirits, I’d grit my teeth and act as happy as possible for the sake of my son.
Then I had an idea. We hadn’t heard from my husband in quite awhile so I said to my son, “If we call Daddy and get his voicemail immediately, that means that Daddy is on the plane, on his way home, because he has to shut off his cell phone while he is flying on the plane.” I dialed the number to my husband’s cell phone and placed it next to my son’s ear. The call went straight to voicemail. “Daddy is coming! Daddy is coming!” My son’s spirits lifted tremendously.
Once my husband’s plane landed, he called to let us know, and again, my son wanted to know EXACTLY when Daddy would be coming home. I assured him it would be very soon. It was close to my son’s bedtime, but I knew he would not fall asleep until Daddy was safe at home. In fact, my son called my husband three times while my husband was in the taxi on his way home to assure himself that Daddy would be home soon.
My husband finally arrived home. With a stuffed animal gift for my son. My son was so relieved; he hugged and kissed his father, gathered the new stuffed animal in his arms, and fell fast asleep, tightly hugging his new toy.
It was through this five-day ordeal that I realized two important things. First, pain or no pain…medical crises or not…I will ALWAYS find a way to care of and be there for my son. I was a single Mom for those few days. With pain so excruciating, I could hardly think straight. But when it came to my son, I met every one of his needs at home. I will always be able to take care of my son, medical conditions or not.
The second, and more important realization is that at this point in my son’s life, he needs BOTH of his parents. And he preferably needs them in the same home. We recently went to a parent/teacher/principal meeting and were told that my son is doing SO much better in school than from earlier in the year. If I were to have my husband removed from our home, the person I would be hurting the most would be my son. I couldn’t bear to do that to him. I am the one abandoned. My son does not need to be abandoned too. But this is not the first time for me. And through therapy, I can eventually put the pieces of my life and my heart back together. One tiny piece at a time.