"My ex-husband didn’t protect our children from a bad parent; he denied them the comfort and security of strong bonds with both parents.

I lived underwater for five years (though it could have been 4, or maybe 6) when my two eldest children were with their dad, and not just with their dad but refusing almost all contact with me. The first of those years were hopelessly blurred by my youngest son’s burgeoning mental illness; the last years were muddled by grief, punctuated with occasional episodes of ugly, helpless rage.

I felt, almost always, as if I would die of their absence, that I would never learn to breathe in the vacuum that was the space they’d once occupied in my life. I thrashed and struggled against it, but a vacuum offers no resistance so I fell and fell, alone, tumbling in misery and barely resisting the chasm of bitterness.

People told me (repeatedly, unceasingly) that they would be back, that my children would recognize what their dad had done and come back to me, and when they did all would be as if they had never been stolen.

Those people were wrong, of course, though I don’t blame them for trying to give me hope. They wanted to ease my grief with expectations that my family could be put back together as if it had never been torn. I knew better, but I couldn’t tell those people that lest they redouble their efforts."


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