Ego is a rather complex three letter word. It has a way of making one seem together externally, while internally, a personal, possibly debilitating war is ensuing. Ego comes into play in many aspects of our lives. It can make us insist on certain brands of clothing, models of cars, and specially prepared coffee made to our liking. It infiltrates deeper parts of our lives as well, like our perception of ourselves and how we manage our relationships, or lack thereof. It can be especially debilitating in relationships when coping with the aftermath of a divorce.
I am a divorce “survivor”. I use that term because I feel that I was successful in beating (and continuing to beat) a huge factor that makes the difference in overcoming the circumstances: ego. This feat proves to be even more difficult when children are involved because that person has to remain in your life to some extent…unlike an outward, visible bruise that will eventually go away. They continually resurface in some capacity testing your level of growth personally, spiritually, and socially.
I met my ex-husband in high school, a time when we feel like we know all we need to know to take on this world. Honestly, I did not like him. I thought he was pompous and way to social …with the ladies that is. However, a few years later, at the end of my freshman year of college, he resurfaced and not only had he grown into his physical features, but he ascertained a level of “suaveness” that made me think that his social ways had been corralled by the way he was reconnecting with me. I thanked God when our relationship begun because he encompassed all that a relationship needed to survive: doting, a nice height, handsome and a smooth way of connecting his hopes and dreams to mine. We were engaged by the end of my junior year and had started a family shortly after I graduated.
The disappointment factor crept up as we faced reality. Children have a way of increasing your expectations in life and for people in your life. You see at this point, a nice height, handsome features and a way with words fails to maintain a household and other “adult” responsibilities. These qualities even fail at effective communication leading one to personal growth. I was faced with reality, by those shallow qualities (hey…I had a great looking guy!), when they didn’t transfer over to the qualities of being dependable, honest and loving. The magnitude of ego has the ability to cloud one’s view of oneself, when ironically, that is who it fights to protect on a surface level.
On paper, we were married for about six years, however, in reality, it was less than a third of that time span. We separated multiple times because of the fractures in our union, differences of opinion and separate views of how the future should look. I was left with the blessed duty of raising our three, beautiful children solo (for which I am eternally grateful). He exited the main stage and went on to make a life of his own, with occasionally reappearances. I could have developed hate and transferred that feeling toward my children, and for a while, I did feel that towards him, without relaying the artifacts of the negative feelings to my children. I was wise enough to know that bashing him would leave my children with 50% of themselves feeling crushed and worthless, while my 50% of them felt wonderful and in place. I refused to leave my children fractured like my relationship, so I nurtured 100% of them by not demeaning their father but encouraging the relationship. I left visitation open, as it should be, not made by a judge or walls of my control, but whenever he decided to see them, he was able. This relinquishing of control, actually gave me greater control, over my ego. You see, ego protects our thoughts of ourselves and others thoughts of us on a surface level. At this point, I was losing the battle, divorced with kids to raise on my own, that was not the serving of specially made “coffee” that I intended for myself! I wanted the nuclear family! The white picket fence, house, two cars, dog, and family vacations! I felt like a failure for my kids! A failure in front of my family and peers. I was not used to failing at much, nor not getting my way! My kids deserved only the best and I could not give them what I thought was the most important criteria in life: the nuclear family. I was under attack! I felt I was not pretty enough, fun enough, adventurous enough, etc. I had multiple reasons why my relationship did not work. This is where the struggle with ego lies. The internalizing of lifes ups and downs and how we appear as we maneuver through it all can cause us to sink or swim.
I felt that life was done for me because I failed at the one thing I wanted more than anything for my children, the traditional family. I was embarrassed that I could not give them that one thing. My dream of the white picket fence and all was knocked down before it had a chance to manifest. I was angry at him for taking my dream away! Angry for him having the power to change the course of what I intended. You see, all that time, it was not my ex that I was mourning and longing for, I had come to realize that he was not my intended. It was the dream that I felt my life should be. I was told that I could remarry and still have my dream…but my stubbornness and ego voiced, yes I could get remarried, but it would not meet my criteria since it was not my kids natural father. I thought life was made to order; served with my specifications in mind.
As time went on, and I matured, I did grow in relaxing my parameters on accepting my life events. We can not choose what challenges face us, however, we do have the option of changing our perception of our world. Truth is, presently, I would not change my life. Although I could not give my children the nuclear family they deserve, I give them an undeniable love and dedication that all human spirits demand in life to be healthy and secure. I love who they are and who they are becoming. As I hold God’s hand in this walk of life, I hope that they seek Him as well, to get through life’s ups and downs. My children are becoming more independent each day…and as they do…I am being reintroduced to this person that I call “me”. I am discovering who my adult self is and what I want for my future. I reflect on these past years as I look at my two cars, white fence and my huge Labrador and realize I did provide the framework of the American dream for my children. I also have done my best at plugging the holes of what was missing from this dream, and for anything that they have missed, to them, I apologize. My children are the biggest blessing that I have received in this life. No matter the circumstances, ego will not get in the way of my realization of this!