It is an emotional letter written by the son when he finds that his parents are separating!
10th September 2013
I had to write this mail as I find it difficult to express myself in person. I had been very hard on you in the past months. Pl. accept my apologies. I know that I have used words against you that a son would never use against his mother for which I deeply regret. The accumulated anger, shock, frustration and pain blinded me totally making me incapable of any logical thinking.
Mom, I am writing this mail to bring a closure to me and you. To achieve it I need to get it all off my chest that I find it impossible to do when we meet. That’s the reason I decided to write this mail though it is almost impossible for me to put my emotions into words. I will try.
I came back home as I had almost a week break in college. I was very much looking forward to meeting you all especially since this is the first time I had been away for an extended period of time. When I entered the house I was greeted by Dad who looked to be in a sombre mood and did not even show any enthusiasm when I hugged him. I was puzzled to say the least. When I asked for you, he told me that you have gone for a couple of days to stay with a friend who is very sick. It struck me as odd as you would never leave Ron and Susie alone, but I thought that the friend must be really sick for you to stay with her. I never realised the truth till the next day evening when I saw Peter come. Peter also looked serious and troubled when he saw me. I started feeling a sense of foreboding as he was always a jovial guy who made everyone laugh. He asked me how Dad was doing. It was again an odd question as he could see Dad sitting in the drawing room.
From the time I had come, there had been a funeral silence in the house and neither Dad nor others could throw any light on it. I caught hold of Peter and bluntly asked him what the matter was. Being Dad’s best friend, he should know it if something was troubling Dad. He was taken aback by my question and looked at me quizzically trying to read my mind. It troubled me more than anything else. I was certain by then that something was seriously wrong.
He put his hands around my shoulder and said “Ray, I need to talk to you privately”. He took me to the garden and we sat down in the cane chairs. He remained silent for some time trying to form the right words in his minds. I waited.
He started slowly without looking at me, “A marriage is not an easy thing. It requires constant nurturing with lots of love and affection. In the first flush of love and marriage, both partners are very much into each other and this is never an issue. But as the years roll by, addition of kids, career building and so on, the bond between them get stretched out. Unless both partners make a conscious effort to spend quality time with each other, focusing of each other’s needs, the bond becomes weaker and weaker. Despite living in the same house in apparent bliss, the rot runs deep at the end of which when they look back, they appear to be two strangers living together for the sake of marriage and kids.”
He paused and looked at me. Fool I am, I did not get it. I was waiting for the main act. He could see that I looked confused. He took a deep sigh and then continued.
“At some point in time, they have drifted apart so much, either one of them or both might give up on the marriage and look for solace outside the marriage. That signals the breaking point for the marriage. The break-up of marriage is not any easy thing to handle. It is going to hurt some people particularly the spouse who was not expecting it and the kids. A pragmatic couple will avoid acrimony over divorce and manage the split as painlessly as possible so both of them can move on and the kids are not badly impacted by the split. Protecting the kids who need both parents’ love and affection is the key to this.” He paused again. I was feeling a strange uneasiness at the pit of my stomach. What is he leading to? He sensed my anxiety and patted me on my shoulder.
“This is nobody’s fault and it is not easy to apportion blame on either of them. This happens to a large number of marriages as can be seen from the divorce statistics. No marriage is immune to these pressures and I said earlier, constant rediscovery of spouses, attention, appreciation, tolerance and love is required to sustain the marriage”
I was totally petrified by this time. I can feel where it is coming to. My panic was raising and I blurted out “Are you talking about Mom and Dad?” I looked at him in the eyes imploring him to say ‘No’ but fearing the worst. Peter looked sad and nodded slowly. “It is true Ray, however hard it may be for you to accept. Your parents are adults who have their own lives to lead. Now I am trying to help your Dad to tide over the difficult times and he also needs support from you as well. I am sorry that I have to break the news to you. You had come back in a very inopportune time. Your Mom and Dad were planning to visit you to break the news to you in the week to come”
I could not control myself any longer. “Do you mean to say that mom has walked out and is living with the other man?” I cried out. Peter said “Yes and No. She has gone to other man’s house as one of his kids is seriously ill and needs constant attendance. She had planned to be back by the end of this week and went there only after discussing with your Dad. Your Dad is still numb with shock though he realises that he had also played a part in leading to this split. He had tried to argue and win back your Mom but it was too late for that. Having realised it, he saw no point in holding her back into the sham of a marriage but has initiated steps for legal separation. That’s the reason he did not try to hold her back when she wanted to go there to look after his son. She should be back this week end and they planned to visit you in college to break the news frankly as you are at an age where you could understand things”
I could not hold back my tears. Lot of things are becoming clearer; Dad’s listlessness, the haunted look on his face that brought out the inner turmoil that he was going through.
I remembered the incident last night. When Ron appeared to be running a slight fever, Dad was trying to administer some medicine. I wanted to call Mom to let her know that Ron might be catching a cold. She, more than any one, knew the complete medical history of everyone in the house. It was already night 10:00 p.m. Dad’s face turned ashen when I suggested that I would call Mom. He told me that it was late and she might have retired to bed. I could not fathom the expression on his face. Now I understand what his tortured mind might have been thinking. It was painful and I cried for Dad more than for me. I know that Dad is strong mentally and can handle pressure but this is.. totally something else. I wondered at that time how he would recover from this at all.
I should credit Peter for Dad’s recovery more than anyone else. He came to meet Dad daily, setting aside his own work to be with Dad. He acted as the sounding board for Dad’s anger, frustration and pain. He is totally non-judgemental and never took a stand either way. He did not blame you or Dad. His calm demeanour seemed to rub off on Dad who became close to normal now.
I did not have the heart to face you when you came back on Monday. I could not bear to look at you and avoided eye contact. You knew the reason and I believe you were also in the same predicament. I refused to listen to you, could not accept any of your arguments and basically remained angry at all times. You tried to be patient with me but could not make any headway. I had also used harsh words against you fuelled by anger and resentment. I was not sure whether I was angry that my Mom has transferred her affection to another man over her own family or can hardly bear to see Dad struggling with his self-doubts.
Peter told me in very clear terms what he was trying to do. “I had to make him stop blaming himself for the marriage failure. He was not at fault. More important is that he should regain his self-esteem that is badly shattered by your Mom walking out. I had to make him first believe that he was no less than the man he was before his wife left him. It is tough struggle but he has to overcome the doubts about his self-worth, self-respect. The failure has left a searing mark on the very soul of his being and it would take a long time for him to regain his value in his own eyes”
The next few months have been torture to all of us. Each one of us was living in his own private hell, the escape from which was not possible. I shelved the idea of returning to College. Looking at Dad and the confused expressions of Ron and Susie, I decided to stay. I was only hoping that I would be brave enough to hold the family together. You did your best to keep things normal till the separation became legally complete. It was such a nerve-wracking situation that I would have gladly gone out of the house but was fearing for Dad, Ron & Susie. I understood that you wanted to take both Ron and Susie with you but was persuaded by Dad to leave them with him as part of the settlement as long as you had the kids were also taken from him.
Now when I look at myself in the mirror, I do not see the carefree Ray who went to College with all vision of freedom and fun. I do not see the ME that was working hard at College to complete the assignment in time but spent the weekends partying.. I am not the same person who chased and wooed Sarah and was hoping to marry her once I land a good job after graduation. My understanding of marriage has undergone a sea change now. I no longer see marriage as the only option but rather I am afraid of marriage, making a lifelong commitment. I have come to a view that I need to get rid of the romantic but unrealistic view of a happy marriage ‘till death do us apart’. I will settle for a marriage that lasts as long as it is good and both partners are happy. I will accept the end of the marriage once one of the partners ‘falls out of love’ and wants to end the marriage. Placing high expectations on the sanctity of lifelong association with your soul mate can only lead to bitter disappointments and endless misery. Now I have become wiser that I could never be hurt like Dad. It will be like “You are no longer happy with the marriage. Ok. Let us part and go on our separate ways. Thanks for all the good times together. All the best and Bye!”.
I could not face Sarah when she came looking for me as I never returned to College. She reacted far more calmly to the situation and could understand my pain and bitterness. She did her best to bring me out of it but I was a glutton for punishment; kept on brooding over it. It was like scratching the wound constantly to live through the pain rather than allowing to heal. At one point, I thought of asking Sarah whether she would ever fall out of love with me. Luckily better sense prevailed and I did not. I am sure that she would have walked out on me had I raised the question with her. After spending a couple of weeks with me, she saw no progress in my mood. She suggested that I should consult a therapist that I rejected vehemently. She told me that she was going back to College and allowing me the space to heal in my own time. She told me she would wait for me to contact her and not disturb me.
There is a constant conflict between my logical mind and the heart.
My mind tells me that people who fall in love can also fall out of love. So many marriages fail with partners growing apart without any apparent cause. Mom and Dad are no exception. The kids generally are selfish to demand that they stay together for their sake but must understand that the parents have their own lives to lead. Whatever happened in our home will definitely cause pain to all at first but splitting is the best solution in the long run.
The mind refuses to accept the arguments. It is still grieving over the destruction of its cosy nest that could not withstand the wear and tear of a normal marriage. The nest is totally blown away and the heart is unable to get over it. The pain, bitterness and anger make the grieving process slow.
The heart completely ruled over the mind at the start but slowly the mind is getting its message through. I am now calmer now after 6 months and have been able to isolate the bitterness and anger into a corner of the heart and keep it locked away. However all it needs is a very short trigger for it to come back and hit you with the intensity of the original pain. It could be a word, news, event or a thing that could trigger it. But slowly the intensity is subsiding. I am not sure that the mind is totally in control but so long as the negative feelings remain securely locked I am able to function normally.
I plan to go back to college for the next semester. I may have to attend additional classes to make up for the missed semester. I would do what is required to complete the education and realise that building a good life and career would be severely hampered by brooding over the past. More importantly I would win back Sarah whom I have hurt by my selfishness and indifference. I only hope that she has not yet given up on me. I will beg and crawl to win her back. I need her.
Mom, I need to take some hard decisions now. I know and feel that you still love me and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to reciprocate that unconditional love.
The more I think of you, the demons hiding in the corner of my heart come out and torture me. I will not be able to live in peace any time soon.
You have your family to take care of and we will continue as it is. I hope Dad would find love from another woman and settle down though I would not bet on it. I am sure with support from you and Dad, Ron and Susie would not be adversely affected by the change. They will learn to accept that Dad and Mom are living in different house with families.
I have decided that I will not contact you again. I request that you do the same. It may seem to you as harsh and vindictive but I need to do this to retain my sanity; a closure that would allow both of us to move on. I do not grudge your happiness in your new life but I need this to heal myself. I am sorry that I have to inflict this pain on you. May be years from now, I will attain a level of maturity to look back without anger or bitterness and understand things better. If and when it happens, I will come back to you. Till that time, I will try to keep you out of mind, conscience and heart. This will be my last communication to you in the near future.
I can only say I am sorry.
Your somewhat unfortunate son