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I Am the Sum of My Choices – So Are My Adult Children and My Ex-Husband

By Christine Field September 16, 2023 Family

With several years under my belt of being a divorced 67-year-old mother of four grown children, I have had time for reflection.

The divorce was my choice. I sought and embraced it after years of apathy, contempt and hostility. I couldn’t change my ex’s emotions or approach to life.

Despite the choice and the relief at its execution, there was still an emotional toll. There would be no happily ever after. My children would no longer have the home of their childhood as their touchstone.

Two Kinds of People

The longer I linger on this planet, the more I see two kinds of people. There are victims and there are those who refuse to be victims. I fall in the latter camp.

I am no stranger to tragedy and have endured unspeakable sadness in my life.

At each point, I faced a choice. I could choose to let the experience destroy me. Or I could learn from it and move on in triumph. I generally chose the latter.

The Blame Game

It’s human nature to place fault. When life does not turn out the way we thought it would, it is easy to look around and find someone to blame.

In my own therapies (I have been in therapy several times over the years), every current malady was dissected in the light of the past. What had my parents done or not done that caused me to be who I am with the difficulties I suffered? While that was a legitimate inquiry, it still came down to my choice as to how to respond.

Why would it be any different for my children? As they dissect their difficulties, they will surely place plenty of fault in my lap, and in my ex’s lap.

Some of it belongs. Some of it doesn’t.

Choices Were Made

In my life, my kids’ lives and my ex’s life, choices were made. Who we are and who we have become is the sum of those choices.

I made a choice in my marriage and mothering to try to manage other people’s emotions. I thought it was my job to motivate them and to make them happy.

Guess what? None of them asked for me to do that! No one said, “Mom, you need to completely revolve your life around us and do nothing for yourself.”

It was a choice that I made because I thought it was the right thing to do. It made me lose myself and made my family resent me.

I’ve made different choices now. I honor the fact that my needs and wants are just as important as the needs and wants of my family.

What’s the Reality?

Of course, my strengths and substantial weaknesses had an impact on how my marriage turned out and how my children turned out. But just as I made choices, they made choices.

My ex made the choice to give all his energy to his career, to the detriment of his family. It was a choice he made – and he now lives with those consequences. He chose to treat me and the children as an annoyance and viewed us with contempt and hostility. He could have made a different choice.

My children made choices that did not serve them well. They chose friends who were not good influences. They chose playing video games over reading, studying or advancing themselves. Those were choices they made.

What Have We Become?

And so we circle one another, each in our own orbits, still trying to figure out how we will be family. Some choose to remain in close contact. Some cut themselves off while they nurse their woundedness.

Someone once said none of us escapes family life unscathed.

My prayer is that we figure out how to be family moving forward. We’re wandering around the chessboard trying to figure out the next move.

May we all remember the deep, unshakable basic love we share.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How much are you the sum of your choices? Have your family members made choices you have had to learn to deal with? Are you learning to forgive yourself and others?

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Great article! I too chose to leave my family home after years of a difficult marriage. The issue is while i was still in my prime, I could not get over my ex, he was my first and only love from middle school! But despite being lonely, I found peace in living alone and find interesting activities, and enjoy time with my grandkids and adult daughters.

Bree Zee

Great article, the difference in the “ex” category for me was he couldn’t keep his hands off of other women and never wanted to hold down a decent job long enough to help take care of his family. I was the primary source of income for the whole family, including him! My ex was always free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted; therefore life has gone on for both of us, the kids are all grown, and I am living my best life of solitude and peace 💕

Stephanie Bryant

I’m so lonely, my life was my ex and children. Trying to maintain a family unit that was full of dysfunction. My ex created a toxic environment that we all suffer for now. I’m having a lot of difficulty being without a partner at my age. I don’t want to be but it’s a jungle out there.I am trying I don’t sit home but it’s a bandage that comes off when I go home to an empty house.

Patricia Lang

Excellent article. We all need to learn to live our lives. It is hard to stand by and watch adult children make choices that you know they will regret.

Michele Flanagan

Excellent article. I could completely relate to this. I thought I had done a good job as a Mom only to find out that the perspective of my children is different than mine. Thanks for discussing a topic that I’m sure many of us experience.

The Author

Christine Field is an author, attorney, speaker, listener and life coach. She has four grown kids, mostly adopted, mostly homeschooled. She provides MomSolved© resources and reassurances to moms facing common and uncommon family life challenges. Christine helps moms rediscover their mojo for wholehearted living after parenting. Visit her website here

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