Sprout News Divorce & Depression

A Mother’s Confession: Divorce, Depression, Recovery

She looks around the room nervously before she answers the question.  “This is anonymous…right?”

 

Her eyes make solid contact with mine as her insecurity disappears and her strength and conviction comes through her question.  It’s her kids she worries about.  “Because, you know, my friends are completely fine with this but other parents are not ok with it.”  She waits, locking her sight through my eyes into my soul.  She’s reading me as a mother lion does when protecting her cubs.  “This will destroy my kids if it comes back to me.”

“Do you want to reconsider the interview?” I ask.  I pose the question partially because I want her to know she’s not under pressure and partially because I want her to be sure of what she is about to tell me.  I cannot share her experience unless she gives me everything.

“No…that’s fine.  Other women need to know it’s ok.  But this BETTER not be published in my name.”

America.  Our women’s convictions rival anyone else’s in the world.  They are queens.  Powerful, smart, and beautiful for who they are.  But, none will ever be a martyr for our society if it means their children will suffer.

“Ok, so tell me how it began.”

She takes a deep breath.  Biting her lip, I can sense her apprehension to recant the experience.  The pain in her eyes enriches as emotions she has buried for years are being brought to the surface just as she begins to speak.

“It all started with my divorce.  We had a great life on the surface.  A beautiful home, three children, and we both worked really hard with our careers.  Financially, we were fine but never comfortable.  We worked as a team, both my husband and I, to get the kids off to school, get our jobs done at work, get the kids home from school and homework done, then off to the kids’ different sports activities.  The schedules were insane.  By the time the day was finished, we were so exhausted we had no energy left to spend on ourselves, much less on our relationship together.  We would find ourselves zoning out in front of the tv.  Me, working on my laptop.  Him, tinkering with whatever project he had going.  Whatever it took for us to keep our minds off the fact that we had nothing left for ourselves after giving it all to our family.”

Her eyes start to swell up and gloss over while her memories cut deep into her heart.

“I mean, that’s what you do…right?” she asks.  I couldn’t tell if she was asking a serious question, like I would have the answer that nobody else has found.  Or, if she was reassuring herself she did what was right as to alleviate her guilt from her part in the marriage going south.

She continues,” You’re supposed to give everything you have to your family, kids first, household next, then your relationship with your husband.  What time is left of the day, you take to yourself?”

Her eyes look downward to the left as she whispers to herself, an admittance of hindsight she regrets not seeing before, “There’s never time left in the day.”

I place my hand on her knee and lean forward slightly to make direct eye contact with her as I say, “Parents do what we have to do in order to lay our head down at the end of the day knowing we did our absolute best.  But, we also know it will never be good enough for our children.  That formula always results in ‘not enough time,’ but we’re not built to have it any other way.”

She looks up, fighting back the tear that is slowly climbing out of the corner of her eye.  She wipes it away, lifts her chin up and looks at me with the determination she has learned throughout life in order to carry on when it’s just not possible.

Her words begin again, but this time confident and crisp.  Her tone has changed from softly defensive to sharply assertive and she locks eyes with me.

“We had a great home life.  And then, the divorce.  I can’t say I was surprised.  We hadn’t been happy for a long time, but we loved each other.  Had we not had kids, we wouldn’t have still been together at that point.  But, he screwed it up bad.  Instead of us working together to part ways, he decided to have an affair with a woman he worked with.  He funneled family money out of the kids’ college savings to spend on her.  It crushed me.  I filed for divorce.  I hid from the community to ensure our home drama was not wrapped up around my children.”

“You see; we live in a town that likes to talk about everyone else’s business.  While parents are talking bad about other parents, they don’t realize their kids hear it at their home and bring the talk to school.  Then, my children hear all these bad things about us which most of them aren’t even true.”

Her demeanor changed quickly.  The rage in her eyes cut through their beautiful green shine.  The buried anger that she has kept deep down in the depths of her soul, never letting it out because she doesn’t know how to defeat it.  I see her tighten her lips, her eyebrows start to crinkle down.  She is wrestling with this monster in front of me and I’m not sure who’s going to win at this point.  I’m either going to have one helluva heartfelt conversation with her, or I’m going to have an hour long rant on my hands.

Her voice starts to raise and that demon she kept locked away begins to rear its ugly head.  

“He fucked with my kids”

She pauses.  Looks down at her hands, shaking as she tries to hold them together. She takes a deep breath as she confesses, “I don’t think I will ever get over it. There’s some lines you don’t cross.”

Her eyes glance over to the end table sitting next to her that I didn’t notice until now.  It has an amazingly beautiful contemporary design, matching the rest of the décor in her home, allowing it to blend in with the high quality furnishings of the room and only to be noticed when it’s function is needed.  On the table is a hand blown glass vase with exquisite detail throughout the entire structure forming itself upwards to reveal a gorgeous display of colorful flowers.  In front of this vase is a black walnut tray whose artistic curvature matches that of a hand crafted gift.  There’s some remnants of green powder on the tray lying next to three pre-rolled joints.  

She reaches for one of the joints, places it to her lips and looks right at me.  

“My kids aren’t home,” she says, assuring me that she would never smoke in the house when her kids are home, “they’re staying at their grandparents tonight.  I made sure they weren’t going to be here because I figured you would be asking me some tough questions.”

She places a lighter to the tip of the joint and ignites it as she takes a deep inhale to get it lit.  

As she exhales her first puff of smoke, she says, “You know, I tried everything the doctors could prescribe.  I went through hell and back on all these different medications and none of them really helped.”  

I can tell that she’s not educating me on the benefits of cannabis.  She’s making sure I don’t think she’s a terrible mother for using cannabis.

“It’s ok, I’m writing for a cannabis publication” I reassure her.  

“I know” she says, “I’m just used to being judged for this as a druggie.  You know, when I was a kid and up through my marriage, I thought only drop outs smoked.  I would tell my kids about weed and how dangerous it was.  My husband and I would talk about how our friends would be throwing their lives away when we would find out that they smoked.”

“It’s ok, we’re just doing the best we can every day,” I say, reminding her of my previous reassurance that none of us have all the answers and sometimes we get it wrong.

“The divorce was bad” she begins again abruptly.  “It ripped me apart.  It ripped my heart apart.  It ripped my mind apart.  It paralyzed me and everything I was.  Getting over the initial shock of the divorce took months.  I continued to get the kids to school, do a good job at work, help the kids with their homework, and take them to their activities.  All at the same time, I was meeting with my attorney and paying for this huge expense in order to keep what I had already earned.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, remember when I said I didn’t have time for myself or my relationship during my marriage?  I was then doing ALL of it by myself and then some.  The lack of time during my marriage was nothing compared to the lack of time I had when I was going through my divorce.”

I nod.  I’ve been through one and I know exactly what she meant.  All of a sudden, the small things you didn’t think about that were done by the other partner quickly become the straws that break the camel’s back at the end of each day.

“I didn’t sleep much.  My health was declining.  I was holding it together throughout the day for my kids and household, and collapsing at night.  I didn’t have any time to work on myself or deal with the emotions of losing my life as I knew it.  The hardest thing I had to figure out was how to be a mother without being a wife.  I always combined the two together and I didn’t know how to do one without the other.  Once it was time for me to go to bed for a few hours’ sleep, I would have nightmares about my lost life, about my husband running off with his girlfriend, and about being alone this late in life”

“I was depressed and I knew it.  I went to multiple doctors and they all prescribed me different medications.  Some would have me laying around with zero motivation to get up and do anything.  They blocked whatever it was inside my body that allowed me to care about anything.  I was just essentially a zombie and my kids suffered.  Others would leave my brain and emotions alone, but would essentially take away all of my physical energy.  Even though I wanted to get up and do stuff, do things that would make me happy or productive for my family, I would stand up, take a few steps, and quickly lay back down on the couch.  I had no energy.”

“My work suffered.  I wasn’t the sharp, crisp employee my boss hired.  I was phoning it in most days and was reactive to whatever happened at work.  I was on the verge of losing my job and I couldn’t care less.  My household suffered.  Laundry went without being done.  Dinner became whatever it was that took the least amount of time to make.  Cleaning was left undone and my house was constantly dirty.  The kids suffered.  Even though I was physically still there, emotionally I wasn’t.  I wanted to be left alone as much as possible.  I didn’t want to feel happiness, or sadness, or giddiness.  Any emotion I felt opened the door to all these feelings of betrayal and anger over the divorce that I never addressed.  The more my life got worse, the more depressed I was.  It was a whirlpool of negative consequences that never stopped sucking me down.”

She must have seen a look of confusion on my face because she paused for a moment.  The woman sitting in front of me was NOT the woman she was describing.  The woman in front of me was strong, independent, and a queen.  Her life was in order, she did not look stressed, and I couldn’t imagine anything beating this woman down.

A small smile began to form in the corner of her mouth as she continued, “Life was an absolute shit-ball.  I did everything I was supposed to do and here I was, reaping the rewards of a life I didn’t sign up for while the individual who caused all of this, my still-husband at the time, was out partying with his girlfriend and living it up.”

“One night, while the kids were at their friends’ houses, my girlfriend and I were finding the bottom of a wine bottle and talking about how life just shits all over you for no reason.  I’m not sure what got us on the subject, but at some point, we were sitting out back on the deck and she asked if I would care if she smoked.  My kids weren’t home and I wasn’t in any position to give one care about anything else, so I told her to knock herself out if that’s what she wanted to do.  Now, I have several friends who’ve gone through a divorce and they all tell me the first year, they did things they would never do.  They went crazy in several areas of life and many of them ended up smoking weed at some point in time during their crazy stunts.  I held down my household for my kids.  I didn’t get to go crazy.  I didn’t go out sleeping with a bunch of men.  I didn’t go out partying, trying to catch up on lost time from my marriage.  I stayed as stable as I could for my family.  So that night, I decided I would smoke with her.”

Do you think if it wasn’t for the hard times you were going through that you would have ever tried marijuana?”

“You know, they say ‘God tears you down so he can build you back up stronger than before and without the flaws you chose to carry along the way.’  If I wasn’t at the bottom of my life with nowhere to turn, I would have never tried cannabis.  I was on a self-destructive path and going to do a drug that my friend was doing, but it turned out that was the first time I ever tried the plant that would save my life.  Had you told me that night that cannabis would have been so instrumental in my redevelopment, I never would have touched it.”

Really?  So when you first tried it, you weren’t trying it for a positive purpose?”

“Nope.  I had never gotten high before and that’s what I was going to do.  Had I thought about it before hand, I wouldn’t have done it.  But, I guess it was just everything all piled up at once that made me say, ‘screw it, I’ll try it.  Let’s get high tonight’”.

Her demeanor has changed again.  She looks a little insecure.  You can tell she’s judging herself again, based on what her community would say.  It’s weird to see a human struggling mentally between whether something was helping her positively or was detrimental to her health.  She’s trying really hard to remember what she was going through that night now that she has changed her perspective completely on this plant.

“I felt good that night.  My friend and I talked, we laughed.  It was the first time I felt good about anything.  Actually, I felt good about everything.  We ate dinner and watched tv.  Then, we went to bed.  I woke up the next morning and that’s when it hit me.”

As she says this, her body lightens up, almost as if it’s rising up into the air.  She sits up straighter, her head looking solid on her neck and shoulders.  She leans back and crosses her legs into a comfortable position.  This is the first time I have seen her relaxed all day.  She places her fingers up by her chin and begins to look upwards as she remembers, “I realized that morning, that particular morning, was the first time I got out of bed on auto pilot.  Most people take for granted when they get out of bed without thinking about it, but through my depression, I had to make myself physically climb out of bed and get on my feet or I would lay in bed all day crying and sleeping.”

“I got out of bed and walked into my living room.  My friend was already awake and asked me how I slept.  That’s when I realized I slept heavy, with a purpose.  No nightmares.  No stress dreams.  No waking up throughout the night and being tired in the morning.  I…slept…heavy.”

She nods her head as she says each word.  I can tell she’s struggling to find the words to properly share what she was going through that first morning.  To accurately describe the feelings she was being overwhelmed with by being able to sleep one full good night’s rest.

“As my friend and I talked, we recounted some of the conversations we had the night before.  As I was remembering that previous evening, it all become very clear to me.  I laughed.  I ate.  I smiled, and not the forced smile I learned to carry over the last few months.  I felt emotions without the anger and hatred from my divorce.  I was alive.”

“That’s when my life got complicated.  My friend and I talked deep into the afternoon about cannabis.  She was educating me on everything that has happened with the plant over the last 20 years that I had no idea about because I didn’t care about ‘drugs.’  In my hand the night before was the answer to my depression.  It did in a few hours what medication couldn’t do in months.”

Her happiness changes immediately out of nowhere.  Her face grows sad.  Her lifted mood sinks back into her body and she stares me in the eye again.

“I’ve always done the right thing and followed the rules.  When the doctors couldn’t help me over several months, I kept going back.  Now, I have the solution to the problem that would allow my kids to experience me . . . their real mother for the first time after the divorce.  And if I used that solution, I was a pot smoker drop out loser of a parent who would be putting her kids in harm’s way by having weed around them.  What the hell was I supposed to do?”

“As a parent, you do the best you can with what you have to provide the best life for your kids”

“That’s exactly what I did.  The people who would say I was a bad parent for smoking cannabis were NOT raising my kids.  They weren’t living in my house or going through what I was going through.  And they sure as HELL weren’t doing anything to help my children through this situation.   So I decided their opinions didn’t matter.  I would rather have the ENTIRE world hate me and provide the best life for my kids than give my kids less than I could and be accepted by other people.  I’m the one that has to sleep at night knowing what I did with my actions and how it affected my family.”

“Would I have thought in a million years that I would ever smoke cannabis?  Hell no.  Nobody ever could have even insulted me with such an accusation of weakness and irresponsibility.”

She relaxes again.  I could tell her sadness came from the need to defend her actions, even to herself.  

“That’s when I began using cannabis.  It was scary.  I would only smoke it a little bit at night, when the kids went to bed and it was time for me to let the stresses of the world go and focus on bettering myself.  But it was dangerous too.  I had to learn how to buy it, how to transport it, how to safely store it, and how to dispose of it.  I had to learn how to hide it from my family, my friends, and the community.”

You see, cannabis is still illegal where she lives.  On the books of law, it has zero use for medicine or recreational use and is only considered a highly dangerous and addictive drug.  And, that’s exactly how people are prosecuted for it.  

“If I got pulled over with it, I would most likely go to jail.  After jail, I would be on probation and tested for it regularly, so I wouldn’t get to use it to help me and my family.  I would definitely lose my job.  If they found out I have it in my house, I could have my kids taken away from me for endangering them.  If my ex-husband found out about it, he could use it in a custody battle to have full custody with supervised visitation for me and my kids.  My life would be destroyed again.  This is all because my state doesn’t recognize the exact same plant that other states use to help people for the same reason I’m using it.  Somehow, the usefulness of this plant and its positive qualities change based on imaginary state lines and words printed on law books.  How crazy is that?”

“But, you supported those laws before your personal experience and didn’t want it to be legalized because a bunch of pot heads just wanted to lie about its benefits and get high?”

I say it with a slightly sarcastic tone.  I too believe the same thing she now believes.  What was once an enemy preventing human freedom to benefit themselves is now an advocate because she finally got to walk in the shoes of those who need it.  She catches my friendly banter and undertones of frustration as she smiles an ornery, self-admitting smile.

“I didn’t really think there was a world other than what I had already experienced.  I mean, I grew up with D.A.R.E. and the warning of the gateway drug.  I heard about all the shooting between Crips and Bloods over selling weed.  The cartel transports it into the US and makes millions alongside coke, heroine, and meth.  Weed was a useless drug you stayed away from because once you smoked it, you opened the door to more drug use and you’d become a drop out loser with no ambition who doesn’t take care of their kids or hold jobs.  The world was flat to me.  And . . . now, I think because of my karma, I have to walk around knowing for a fact that the world is round, cannabis is not a drug, and I have to live around people who would persecute me if they ever found out.”

She leans forward.  Her eyes locking with me one last time.  Her lips strengthen as she forms her words.

“I’m taking a huge risk here.  I could lose everything.  My job, my kids, my house, my freedom.  But I have to.  I have to tell you my story because someone needs to hear it.  Someone who is going through what I went through needs to know what I know.  I might be saving a young woman’s life before she commits suicide without trying everything to conquer her depression.  Please tell me you won’t identify me.  My ex-husband’s attorney would have a field day with this.”

I assure her that her identity is not relevant to the information we’re providing to our readers.  I assure her that soon, she will be able to operate freely with the plant that helps her so much.  I assure her that we’ve been in a dark long storm for decades and the sun is about to shine.  And . . . I assure her that her toughest experience with this plant has yet to come.  

She smiles and leans back with a sigh, reaching for another joint she lights it, offers it to me and says, “This stupid little joint has helped me get my life back.  My kids, my household, my flourishing career, and more happiness than I had when I was married.  I fought one hell of a fight and I now have everything I worked so hard for over the years.  I didn’t actually lose my life, I just had to adjust some flaws in the foundation.  If it wasn’t for cannabis, I never could have adjusted myself so I could conquer those demons that haunted me and build myself up as a stronger, happier mother than I ever knew I could be.”

As I open the door to her house and walk out to my car, I look around her neighborhood.  I see children riding bikes and playing basketball.  I see her neighbor watering his lawn.  A lady jogs past me with her dog, giving me a friendly wave.  I can hear the “ting” of a baseball bat from the ballparks within eyesight from her yard as a tournament is being held.  I take a deep breath of fresh air as the sun shines down on us.  And I smile.  America is a beautiful place.  The storm is almost over.  And people will be able to use cannabis to help them when they need it.

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