Last night my sister posted on Facebook how one of her teenage sons is stepping up and doing something incredibly thoughtful and sweet for the mom of one of his friends. The woman is going through a divorce and apparently could use a pick me up, and my nephew is providing a really sweet one. My sister was saying how proud she is of my nephew, and I am proud of him too.
My nephew is a thoughtful, compassionate young man who is insightful enough to realize sometimes flowers, chocolate and a hug can change a woman's life, and he is willing to spend his own money and time to make that difference in the life of the mom of one of his friends. Yeah – that’s a big deal! My sister said she offered to help financially and he declined.
A similar situation occurred when my mom’s brother got divorced for the second time. My siblings and mother took him home cooked meals, helped clean his house, helped with yard work and supported him emotionally. I was happy they were able to be there for him, but it hurt. If I were honest, it hurt so much I couldn’t read about it without tears coming to my eyes.
Why does it hurt when my family is supportive of people going through difficult times? When I filed for divorce my family went MIA. Actually worse than that, I was contacted every few months and told they were praying I would repent from my sin and return to my abusive husband. That was the support I received from my family, including this same sister. For 18 very long months I was told I wasn’t welcome in their homes, not even my parents home. For 18 long months I heard from my ex about every single time he communicated with my family, every single time he was welcomed into their homes, every single time they assured him they loved him. Eventually they came around, a little. Things are better but not good.
A few weeks ago, several family members surprised us with a visit. That is the second time in over a decade any of my family has been to my home. However, it wasn’t just a friendly visit, they are politicians and it was quickly obvious it was a campaign stop. As my sister was leaving my home, she gave me a hug and said just remember you are not alone. Really? I’m not alone???? I feel completely and totally alone. I’ve moved three times and no one has helped. Three and a half years of court with multiple court dates and none of you ever came to show any support. You claimed you didn’t think you had anything of value to add. Years and years of a son with a life threatening illness and still you haven’t been there for us. I am a single mom with four children and a stalker psycho ex husband. My family has called the police on his family because they felt threatened and harassed and yet I am left to deal with him and his family on my own. It isn’t as if they are unaware of the issues my children and I deal with every day. For some reason though, if I decide to share any of the crap I am dealing with, my family goes silent and one or two of them will simply post a sad face or “praying,” or my favorite “isn’t it sad to see the destructive long term results of divorce on a family.” God forbid I mention going on a date, the room goes deathly silent and then the subject is changed.
I am very glad that my family is growing and maturing. They are learning to accept divorce as a part of life. Having spent my entire life as a member of this family, I know the way we operate, the way we behave. I know that someone has to be the first one to break down the walls and that person is forever the bad guy. That person is me. I also know they will love and accept any other family member that God forbid ever goes through a divorce. It’s just the way they are. Sometimes, though, I wish I could make it stop hurting. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t the one who always broke down those stupid walls.