Putting The Pieces Back Together

Putting The Pieces Back Together

“I want you back my love.”  My words to my son last night.  It’s been an unsettling couple of years in our house but I had not fully appreciated how tough it would be for my son on top of everything else.

My first born.  My handsome, clever and sensitive young man.  A part of him is fragmented and missing at the moment; the task for us and more particularly me, now lies in putting the pieces back together.

As is a mother’s way I am prone to blame myself and beat myself up as I reflect on his journey into adulthood.

I divorced his father when he was only young.  At the time it seemed the best decision for him and for us.  No-one wants to grow up in a household of angst and division was my thought process, but did I really put him first or was it me that mattered most?

Making the decision to divorce is never easy and I admire those that decide against it and stick at their marriage in the best interests of their child or children. I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried to resist that scenario.  The marriage had turned sour for all the reasons that childhood romances can do just by their longevity and cutting free just felt right.  I had had enough and wanted out and once I had reached that point in my thought process there was absolutely no turning back.

So yes in truth I did put me first, made the break and off we went into the dim sunset, but in doing so I threw us and more definitely my son into an uncertain future.

Passed from pillar to post every other weekend between divorced parents at any age is tough. I still remember so clearly the time he returned after his first weekend away with his father. Confused. Upset. Not really understanding. How do you explain that scenario to a three year old?

You can’t is the simple answer. You just go through the motions of keeping everything amicable and civilised in the best interests of your child and work and pray for the best.

As the years passed and more conversations occurred I simply reiterated the recommended spiel, explaining that his father and I still loved him more than life itself, if not each other.

My ex came over during the week when he could, to read to him and put him to bed but there was always that killer question the next morning when he woke “Where’s daddy?”

My own parents struggled with my decision for a while but they were as always loving and supportive.  As for my ex’s parents I was the devil incarnate, but quite frankly I didn’t give a damn.

I was happy in me for the first time in an age.   Dramatic maybe but I was having a jolly old time, finding the real me again, fighting harder in my career than at any other point, hungry and ambitious because I had to be, after all there was no-one to fall back on anymore and selfishly I was enjoying my life free of the garbage of a relationship that had in hindsight made me so miserable for so long.

Inevitably, there were bad times along the way. Being a single parent is never easy, but I had sowed those seeds so I had no choice but to just deal with them as best I could.

Fast forward and here we are many years later with the unspoken words of that time coming back at me in shed loads. My just deserts some cynics might say.  Just when I thought we were through it all and the journey was complete my son’s demons have reared their ugly heads and upset the balance.

It has made me think a lot about our parenting journey. What happened?  When did it all start to go wrong?  Did I miss some important signs along the way?  Is it all because of the divorce?

Of course not is my rational brain thought process.  After all many go through divorce, move forward, live in a blended family environment and survive happily ever after.

The other brain segment, however, the one that plays merry hell with my sleep, anxiety and general well-being says yes, of course, it’s related.

Divorce is unsettling, questions are often left unasked by the children involved and thereby left unanswered and that is even before the inevitable volatility that arises between divorced parents and newly formed families.

There are, however, many positives among the broken fragments which provides a welcome relief.

Aside from a great bunch of mates who have his back at all times and the security of a gorgeous relationship, he is lucky enough to have a loving and adoring stepfather and a wonderful younger sister who would climb mountains for him.  Half sister by the way is a term I have resolutely refused to use over the years as it simply draws attention to the negativity of a previous failed relationship rather than the good of a new one.

There is always more beneath the surface of every individual and with him we are just cracking the top of the iceberg.  I am anxious, worried and aside from my cancer crisis, perhaps more than at any other time nervous as to how we navigate this next bit in our lives and move forward.

That said I am hopeful that everything can be sorted.  Love is the glue for all life’s troubles and trite as that might sound I am holding that thought close to me right now.

I am confident we will get to the end of this particular segment of our family journey in one piece, because we are strong and if I didn’t think and believe that, we have almost certainly failed before we have even started.  “I want you back my love.”

Editor’s Note:  As always I welcome your thoughts and comments. 



  1. October 6, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    I can really relate to this Jo, in so many ways (not the divorce part but the self-blame part definitely!). I actually wrote a post last week, which addressed this. You might find it helpful (not wanting to plug my post but you might find it worth reading). Hope your boy gets his spark back soonest. xx

    • Jo
      November 10, 2019 / 11:10 pm

      Self blame as a parent is i think common but nevertheless unexpected. We all think we are doing it right but of course there are always chinks in the armour, we expect that as mothers particularly but it doesn’t make it any easier. I have read your post. Loved it as always and thank you for words of support as always. Now two months on almost we are for sure in a better place. X

  2. Lieve Geysen
    September 23, 2019 / 10:13 am

    Dear Jo
    I have read this beautiful and honest post of yours and I’ve been meaning to write some comment but it’s been a very busy couple of weeks. I feel that you and your family are going through such a difficult time and I wish I could do something to help you all. It’s not like I’m an expert or I have the answers but I would certainly want to say don’t blame yourself. Nobody’s perfect. You made decisions because you felt they were the right ones. Of course a divorce is unsettling for all involved, but I don’t think staying in a marriage in the best intrest of the children is always indeed the best thing. You have all been through a lot and I certainly don’t underestimate any of it but I do strongly believe like you that love is the ultimate glue and it’s obvious there is no lack of that. All the best!

    • Jo
      September 27, 2019 / 3:45 pm

      Oh Lieve bless you, you are always so thoughtful and considered in your responses and I am ever grateful that these personal posts are a) read and b) evoke a reaction. I frequently hesitate on pressing publish with these ones but it is a cathartic process and as it is my little bit of expressive space I think sometimes it is worth throwing caution to the wind and going for it and responses like yours confirm that. I think one thing I am noticing more of as my teen and kidult grow up is that there is a lot of baggage they are carrying around and as a parent it is easy to sometimes overlook it or just simply not be aware of it. I am grateful we are able to express ourselves in our family and deal with issues as they arise. Much love to you. X

    • Jo
      September 27, 2019 / 6:01 pm

      Thanks Jo – to be honest I think it is less about blame and more about finally finding the time, courage or opportunity to ask the unanswered questions that have clearly been gathering over the years. It is easy to sometimes not ask a question and particularly when you are a young child of divorced parents you accept the status quo and maybe just muddle on. Also we made such an effort to protect him and get on as divorced parents over the years that I sometimes wonder if we sugar coated the reality too much. Thank you for popping over and taking the time to comment.

  3. September 4, 2019 / 1:52 pm

    Ah Jo, such a heart-rending piece! It’s likely that he’ll come back to you but it seems he’s working out all this resentment at the moment. Must be hard for you to be working through all of this though.

    • Jo
      September 27, 2019 / 6:04 pm

      It’s a never-ending journey of discovery for sure Liberty and a timely reminder that parenting never stops. Regardless of their age there is always a job of parenting to be done and that will serve me right for getting ready to sit back a bit more. Xx

  4. September 3, 2019 / 10:20 pm

    Beautifully expressed, Jo. Can only hope it all works out. Does sound like he is a much-loved young man with a fine and caring group of core people around for him

    • Jo
      September 3, 2019 / 10:52 pm

      Thanks Enda he is all of those of things on many levels and more.

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