Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ripple Effect



As most of you know, about a month ago, my husband (HOB) told me he wanted a divorce. It was unexpected and I am still trying to deal with the aftermath of his decision. As I've written, it's going to be a long journey, but I have lots of support including my family.

Though I was hit hardest by this life tsunami, my sisters, brothers-in-law, and my nieces and nephews are also affected by HOB's decision. I come from a big family and I can honestly say that everyone in my family loved HOB and he loved them. We are all struggling to understand and deal with this loss.

One of my nieces, Alyssa, wrote this and I asked her if I could use it here on my blog. I think recognizing and honoring the effects that this kind of decision has on everyone, not just the spouses, will help start the healing that will hopefully, eventually, come to everyone.



Aunt Betty is weathering a brutal storm.

A tornado has swept through her life, leaving devastation in its path of destruction. Aunt Betty is bruised and hurting. Time will never fully heal the wounds. They may heal to a certain degree, but the scars will remain. They will be reminders of a life that will simply feel like a dream, lost somewhere in time.

I am still processing all that has taken place the last couple of weeks.

I find it hard to believe that Uncle HOB is gone. He says he needs to be free. In my mind, I wonder why? Why would he want to leave his wife of 30 years? Why would he want to put his two sons through this?

While Uncle HOB’s actions have caused great heartache within his immediate family, it does not stop there.

The hurt flows beyond; it ripples into his extended family. We all stand here stunned, examining the aftermath, wondering how this could happen, what he could possibly be thinking. All of us, Uncle HOB’s mom, his brothers and their families, Aunt Betty’s sisters and their husbands, her nieces and nephews are left with the task of cleaning up the wreckage.

Uncle HOB and Aunt Betty are like second parents to me. I attended college near them, and I spent countless weekends at their home, experiencing their hospitality and generosity, and being filled with the kind of love that can only come from family. Uncle HOB was always there, and always a source of entertaining and interesting moments. (An incident with African Killer Bees and a certain Edgar Allen Crow come to mind).

Uncle HOB’s presence was constant and dependable. I recall how when he was driving, he would always place his hand on Aunt Betty’s leg. It was a sweet and reassuring gesture. He was also protective of and always willing to help one of Aunt Betty’s close friends after she lost her husband.

He was also chivalrous and always looking out for the well-being of his family. This is who Uncle HOB was at the core. And I believe that deep down, behind all the confusion and the need to be “free,” that the real Uncle HOB is still there.


Aunt Betty and Uncle HOB were able to come visit us this summer, when they were in town for my cousin’s wedding. It was the first time that they got to meet my son, who at the time was six months old. I am thankful for the time we got to spend together.

Like Aunt Betty, I was unaware of the plans that Uncle HOB had already meticulously formulated in his head to leave his family.

I didn’t realize that goodbye would be forever. I can honestly say I feel slightly betrayed by how normal he acted while he was here.

In addition to experiencing the direct pain of Uncle HOB’s decision to leave, we are also left with watching our dear Aunt Betty experience the loss of her marriage and of her dreams of growing old with Uncle HOB.

While Aunt Betty mourns this loss and adjusts to her new normal, we family feel helpless. How do you console somebody whose life is turned upside down? Who feels lost, abandoned, confused, frustrated, and hurt? To hear the pain in Aunt Betty’s voice on the phone is unbearable. To listen to her cry about all that has gone wrong in the past weeks is painful. And I feel helpless, at a loss for words. “Aunt Betty,” I said on the phone. “You are doing really well. If I was in your position, I would be a total wreck. You are only a partial wreck.”

Sometimes I wonder what Uncle HOB is thinking right now, as he settles into his new life and pursues freedom. Does he feel guilty? Does he have any remorse for what he is putting his family through? Or has he already shelved those emotions and moved on with his life?

There are so many unanswered questions.

The other night, my husband slipped into bed and engulfed me in an embrace with his strong arms. “Guess what?” he whispered into my ear. “What?” I replied. “You’re stuck with me. I will always be with you.”

His words warmly drifted around in my sleepy mind. And then suddenly, I felt a twinge of remorse and sadness when I thought of Aunt Betty, alone in her bed. She is dealing with life as the walls around her deteriorate, both figuratively and literally.

I said a little prayer of peace over my Aunt Betty. May God guard her heart and her mind as she navigates the winding road before her.

I love you, my dearest Aunt Betty.


68 comments:

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Wow. The writing gene certainly runs deep in your family. Thank you, NoB (niece of Betty), for sharing your heart with us. You've addressed your family's pain in such an eloquent way.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Joan said...

Her words are so poignant.

Moth (man of the house) and I weathered a horrible storm about 12 years ago and survived. In the middle of it all there were time I wished he had just died because healing would be so much easier. I know that's terrible to say, but it was true.

Anne Gallagher said...

With family like that, you'll be sweeping this under the rug shortly. It may still hurt but it will be less and less and less, because you have more than enough love surrounding you, helping you, sustaining you. And don't forget, we love you too.

Mamma has spoken said...

I am thankful that you have such a wonderful support system. Hugs and prayers continuing for you.

Barbara said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I have friends who have been on both sides of this tsunami - it's not as uncommon as we'd like to think after decades of marriage. From your writing I can tell you're a strong woman, though, and it's obvious you have a strong family and lots of love surrounding you. One day at a time...

Madi and Mom said...

BB
What a lovely, well written, heart felt post by Alyssa your precious niece. She actually touched on many questions I too have asked myself since this horrible thing happened to such a nice person. I really apprecaite Alyssa's insight to the Uncle she knew.

I, too, ask, myself what was he thinking and for how long? Why wasn't he willing to try to mend whatever he felt was wrong? Most of all how could he do this to his family? You all must be feeling like you were living in the twilight zone for 30 years.
BB you have a very loving family and circle of friends and for that I am thankful...you are a good, kind, faithful, woman and strong.
Hugs to you,
C

Laura said...

Even though what you're going through is unthinkable and heart-breaking, I'm sure that it helps you so much to have such a strong and close family surrounding you. I think of you often as does everyone here.
We...your real family and your blog family...are not going anywhere.
(((hugs)))

Lin said...

Aunt Betty is darn lucky to have people like you surrounding her.

You know, you think you know people. Sheesh. Amazing how they can be so selfish and so cunning as to plan something so incredibly hurtful and not give an inkling. I think in the long run, Betty is gonna be glad he left if this is the "true" HOB.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I can only say Ditto! to all that was said in the previous comments. You are Loved. You have 641 followers that love you and aren't going anywhere, you have at least 50 family members that aren't going anywhere and I would guess that your friends and colleagues who care about and believe in the Great Goodness that is Betty, and who probably number at least 50, they aren't going anywhere, either. That's at least 741 to 1. We may be an odd bunch, but those are pretty good "odds."
How do we love a person we've never actually met? I don't know, but you make it really easy.

Daisy said...

Very moving piece written by your niece, Betty. It's so sad the pain that has been caused for you and for your whole family. It is all so hard to understand too. Support from her and from your other family members is a very precious thing. Bless them for all for being in your corner.

Green Monkey said...

It was interesting to see the aftermath of HOBs actions from another window. very interesting. beautifully written. honest. fair. pain without bitterness but certainly fearfulness.

Betty.... I can't get you out of my head. I talk about you to people as though you are someone that is part of my inner circle.

Because he chose to leave and because he gave no warning, I keep relating it to my loss. The aftermath is very similar.

This may sound harsh but... if you grow bitter I'm going to call you on it. I'm going to hit you over the head with it.

As much as I feel for you I do not pity you. I have faith in you. I know this will not only make you stronger but funnier and so much happier.

So today.... instead of a HUG, I'm offering you a slap on the ass. Go get um Betty! Go round up some smiles, some deep down belly cheer. pounce in the puddles and report back (please)

baygirl32 said...

Oh Betty, I feel for you. but I have no doubt you will come through this just fine!
HUGS

Laura Eno said...

She wrote such heartfelt words. You are truly blessed to have family and friends (us!) to help you. I think what angers me most is the sly, calculated way that HoB moved on, creating heartbreak for many, many people.

Big hugs to you, Betty! You don't need that kind of dishonesty in your life.

Flartus said...

I wonder if HOB needs his head examined...literally. This sounds like a complete change in personality, so very odd. I am glad to know Aunt Betty has a solid wall of family at her back, and they are just as stunned as she was.

Betty, I hope that bit by bit the days are getting easier, the nights shorter, and the mornings a little less shocking.

I'm sorry the cats find you soooo boring. :) Maybe it's time to welcome another dog as a companion on this journey. They are such excellent listeners--especially if you stand in front of the pantry door while you're talking.

Old Kitty said...

BB!! You have a most beautiful neice and an amazing family!! Thanks for sharing Alyssa's powerfully articulate thoughts here. You are most loved BB! Take care
x

Mary Ann Tate said...

Wow...very well said NOB. She is very lucky to have such a supportive family:)

Barbara said...

Wonderful piece by NOB. And, as Teresa Evangaline said, "How do we love a person we've never actually met? I don't know, but you make it really easy." I find myself drawn to your blog first thing each day...to check in on you and find out how you're doing. Be well, be strong...and know that all of us are with you in your journey. We love you and care about you... BUNCHES!

Linda said...

Hi Betty,

I am so sorry about the train wreck going on in your life! But from what I have read about you following you for the last few months, you are an extremely strong woman. As I am a blog friend I am here in the event you need to talk! Keep strong as you will survive this terrible time in your life and come out even stronger than before! The post from your niece is very touching!
Hugs from me!
Linda

Tabor said...

There seems to be a rope of strength that runs through your family and that is something to be thankful for. This letter helped me see how bewildered you must be. This is all about HOB and something that is mentally or physically wrong. You may never know what this mystery is all about but you will heal and the scars will fade because you still have a lot of living ahead of you.

Zuzana said...

This moved me volumes. For so many reasons, it is impossible to even describe with words. Maybe because it is so real, life painted with sentences of love and loss. I recognize so much in this piece.
Beautifully written with such endearing sentiments, by a sensitive soul.
Bless you for having such a great family to help you weather out this storm...
xoxo

Nat said...

Your niece obviously loves you dearly, as do all your readers.
I am keeping you in my thoughts...

Slamdunk said...

Thank you for sharing your niece's powerful words Betty.

It is good to hear that you have a strong support system during this difficult time.

My prayers are with you.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Divorce certainly affects many others in the family. Such a difficult thing for all. I'm glad you have strong family around to help each other through. Your niece writes very well.

Out on the prairie said...

Sometimes we forget the total effect when we do something good or bad.When I lost my wife, my family with her eventually faded away.

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautifully expressed and so filled with love.

BECKY said...

Powerful. Beautiful. And so truthful.

Lydia Kang said...

You're making me cry. You are so lucky to have such amazing family. I agree, you are not a total wreck! Which means you will recover and be stronger after the tides return to normal. I know it!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was aewsome she has covered everyone and every emotion. Read this with tears.

Yvonne.

julie fedderson said...

You have the most amazing family--so supportive. I would be a total wreck as your niece puts it. But I think you will weather this storm and stay afloat. Even the greatest ships in times of crisis had to throw some jetsam overboard.

EmptyNester said...

That was lovely. Absolutely lovely. Please know that you are constantly in my thoughts.

Bouncin' Barb said...

You are surrounded by loving family and support BB. Be thankful for that. The only true support I have is from my blog family. We can do this. It hurts like hell but we will come out on top. The BB's are tough cookies. Hugs to you!

rainbow said...

With my first divorce, I was the first ever in my family to go through this situation. Without my sisters helping me I would have never made it. Family is the best supper system God ever created. Next to family is the extends family of good friends and Blogger Buddies. KNOW THAT WE LOVE YOU AND WISH WE COULD TAKE THE HURT AWAY, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU AND WILL BE HERE AS LONG AS YOU NEED US.

rainbow (Momma Lyn)

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Not much more I can add to what's already been said as my sentiments for your well-being, Betty, are the same. I hope peace finds its way to you soon.

Marg said...

That really is a very well written piece and what an understanding human being she is. Betty, you sure do have a good family and hopefully they can hold you together through all this. Take care.

Pearl said...

Very nice.

Thinking of you, Betty.

Pearl

Susan in the Boonies said...

Yes, the ripples extend.

You have a loving niece, Betty.

Hugs!

Judy said...

Wow.
Betty, you are TRULY blessed with wonderful family.

Eva Gallant said...

What beautiful words from a loving niece; a testament to the bond she feels toward you. In the end, it's family that counts the most.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Dear Betty - you have one fabulous family with amazing hearts .. heavens above - you do wonder what's going on in his head .. Alyssa has written the most wonderful letter to you - thank goodness you are surrounded by love - perhaps not the love of your life, but by a a great outpouring of hugs and thoughts .. those ripples do spread wide .. with hugs from here too - Hilary

Brian (not the cat) said...

Alyssa has very eloquently expressed the feelings we are all feeling and the questions we are all asking.

Donna said...

omgoodness Betty....YOU are Truly Blessed!!!
((((((HUG))))))

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your niece is incredible. Too bad your husband will never see this.

Ms. A said...

It's wonderful to know that the support system is in place and working. Decisions by one, certainly have that ripple effect and effect much more than the one making the ripple/decision. Everyone feels them. Everyone.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

This touches the heart and soul deeply. You and your niece make such an important point here. A selfish nonsensical act like that devastates an entire network.

Love to you, Betty.
xoRobyn

Pat said...

Wow. Some powerful writing and powerful emotions running through that piece. You have a wonderful family to support you through this horrible mess, Betty. This does make me wonder what the heck that HOB is thinking. Does he need his head examined? Seriously? Or is it just a mid-life crisis? You hang in there! You have a LOT of people rooting for you!

christine said...

I'm sorry, I haven't popped by for a while, and didn't know your terrible news.

Sometimes we don't know what's around a corner, but we do have to deal with it, whatever it is, and that's what your'e doing.

You are fortunate to have such a loving, understanding family to help you through the healing process. and we're here too, to listen to anything you need to say.

Please accept a virtual hug x hang on in there.

jenny_o said...

What to say, that hasn't already been said? Wishing you peace.

Gigi said...

Beautiful words from NOB. I imagine that must be the hardest part - that he didn't seem to act like he was planning this, until he sprung it on everyone.

I keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Betty. And I know you will make it through this very difficult time an even stronger woman than you already are!

Give NOB a big hug from me; because she is an AWESOME niece! You are so lucky to have such a wonderfully loving and supportive family.

rosaria said...

Very touching! Yes, the ripple effects are felt, will be felt by so many.

Annie said...

It does effect every single person in a family. It has in mine I know.
Lovely piece by your dear niece. You can tell how much she loves you.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've thought how tough this must be for your boys, Betty, but I should have realized from all those great family get togethers and pictures how much your extended family is grieving also. I'm so glad you have all of them.

Ann said...

Your niece nailed this one. Dead on at explaining just how far something like this reaches. You are lucky to have such a warm and caring family to support you.

Shan said...

<3 <3 <3 (On Facebook, those would be hearts.)

Cool Gal said...

That is amazing. You are so lucky to have her in your life.

I continue to think of you, Betty. Wishing you brighter days ahead.

Liz said...

Prayers for peace for Aunt Betty, for sure.

Thinking of you, BB.

Susan said...

Alyssa so clearly expressed how I, too, feel about you and HOB. I have loved you both as my friends for so many years (almost 30 years), and nothing will explain his decision or behavior to me satisfactorily. I don't understand how someone at this age can want freedom from family, from a loving environment, from stability, from such a loving and caring wife and family. Why hasn't he talked to anyone? Why hasn't he been the man I have known for so long. I just want you to know, Betty, that I love you, I love our friendship, I love my memories with you and your family, and I will always be your friend.

faye said...

I'm a little speechless at present..
but still here tuning in and keeping
good thoughts for you as you take those steps forward.

huggs

blueviolet said...

What a beautiful, sweet, and caring heart she has. My family still struggles with the very same thing because they feel like something was taken from them too, and they don't like it. It's so tough!

I love that you're surrounded with such wonderful people.

Leanne said...

Oh, Betty. It's all just too much, isn't it. This was written so well, that I see the strength you have around you. I still find myself so very hostile at HOB . . . I can only imagine what your family is feeling.

Betty, we all know that old saying of never really knowing what is happening in someone's mind. I guess this is proof of that. I want you to know that in my mind, I a, thinking of you and sending you as many cyber hugs as possible. You will find your way, dear Betty. And if "your way" ever leads you to Chicago, I've got a place for you right here! Hugs, my dearest friend.

Hilary said...

Your niece has a beautiful heart and it sounds as if much of your family is cut of that same loving cloth. I hope Uncle HOB reads your blog. I'm guessing not.

Linda said...

Alyssa has communicated some powerful truths here. HOB has walked away from some beautiful people.

Momma Fargo said...

What a wonderful neice and I am sure your family also resembles her kind heart. Hugs to you, Betty.

A Tale of Two Cities said...

I'm thankful that you are surrounded by family to support you. I can tell from the words of your niece how much they adore you and share in your pain. May they be a real comfort to you right now.

KleinsteMotte said...

OMG I have missed all your woes because I have not been blogging regularly. I know this is so extremely hard. May you find your way through this with all the help you can get. HUGS

Baby Sister said...

This made me cry...I am so glad that you have family and friends to help support you through this time. *hugs*

CherylK said...

What a sweet girl. She writes like her auntie and I'm thinking she has her auntie's heart as well as her talent. Bless all of you.

The Empress said...

Only HOB knows why he did what he did...with no advance warning.

Such desperation..it just seems like there is a major cause involved.

I am so sorry, Betty.

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