Have you ever noticed how sometimes it’s the smallest decision that changes the trajectory of your life? It doesn’t even have to be your own decision but rather someone else’s. I have come to a certain peace with the traumatic events in my life: incest, emotional abuse, estrangements, my own bad decisions and actions. But there was a moment the other day when a realization hit – and it kind of floored me.
In a brief revisit to the circumstances surrounding this (See Motherhood Lost): I got pregnant at 18, got engaged, broke off said engagement, had my son, fell into severe post-partum depression coupled with an already existing CPTSD stemming from childhood abuse that I had just started to deal with during my pregnancy. I was an emotional, slightly unstable wreck. My son’s father took our son for a while to live with him while I went to therapy and tried to get myself in a better frame of mind to be a proper parent. Throughout that time, my son stayed with me every other weekend.
So, a couple years in, I had been doing much better and wanted a little more time with my son. And this is where a tiny, spur-of-the-moment, decision made in anger and resentment forever changed the trajectory of my life, my son’s life, and my son’s father’s life. I asked Don for one evening every other week to take our son out to dinner, two hours basically, two measly extra hours every two weeks! Never in a million years did I think he’d say ‘no’! But that’s exactly what he did – he was so angry at me for calling off our engagement years before that he wanted to take it out on me, and in return it also took it out on our son.
And there is was – that one decision – that one moment that had it been handled differently may have set all of us up for a better life and future success. But instead, my son’s father said no. And what followed was court battles, mediations, and estrangements. It’s so unfortunate that in trying to get back at me and hurt me, Don also hurt his son and robbed him of the mother-son relationship he had every right to. The lies Don told and continued to tell our son ruined any chance I had at being close to my own child. And here we are 25 years later, no better for any of it.
And I ask – why? Why such a strong, nasty decision to something so simple as my son and I getting just a few extra hours a month? I look back and have to wonder – had Don just said ‘yes’, how much could have been different, would have been different? Three lives left being tossed in a storm to last a lifetime. Three lives that could have been better but instead made far, far worse.
I know I can’t go back and fix or change anything, and what would I change really? I can’t feel bad or guilty about wanting more time with my son. I guess it’s just a wonderful but terrible example of how sometimes it’s the little decisions that slowly kill us. Maybe we should all think before we speak. Maybe we should consider the potential outcomes. One small decision… with life-long consequences.