Can Your Greatest Loss Become Your Greatest Strength?
I am thirty-nine years old. I have a wonderful, well-rounded son who has turned into a young man in what seems like a day. It truly seems like it was yesterday that he was born. He is fourteen years old. So mature, yet still such a boy at heart. I am a counselor. I have a master’s degree in social work, a bachelor’s in family studies, and an associates degree in victim’s services.
When my son was five years old, my ex-husband fought me for custody, and won. That was the lowest point in my life. I loved my baby boy more than anything in this world (still do), and would have given my life for him (still would). Losing custody of him to a father that was only fighting me to gain control over me was just about the worst thing that could’ve happened at that point, other than losing my child. As I said before, it was the lowest time of my life and the only time I’ve ever been close since, was when my dad died six years ago. That was difficult, still is. But this still today haunts me.
The problem that I had was that I lost time with my son. Precious, valuable, unstoppable time. If you’ve never lost that with anyone, you can’t imagine the loss that I felt. I still mourn that loss today; for my son and for myself. My depths of despair were caused by being away from my son, hearing him cry to be with me, and dealing with his father’s insensitivities to a little boy who lost so much of his mom. He has always, always wanted to live with me. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to fight his father in court … not the way he fights. He has money that I’ve never had. He always has. He has always won … in court, that is.
What I wanted to say through all of this is that something good came out of all of my pain. I became stronger than I ever thought possible. I had a counselor at my roughest time. She was my saving grace. I sat in her office one day, finally feeling that I could go on with my life, and realized at that very moment that I would someday be a counselor. I pledged that if I could do for one person what she had done for me, I’d be happy.
But do you want to know what really makes me happy? It’s not that I got the degrees and did what I set out to do. Oh sure, I’m glad. But it’s the fact that every time, every single time I had the opportunity to be with my son, I was there! If I had to leave work early, not take a job due to the schedule we kept, then so be it. I took him to lunch more days than I could ever count. I never missed a baseball game. I went to every single party he ever had at school. When he made an A on his spelling tests for a whole year, I took him to Celebration Station; we played games for hours. We watched Saturday morning cartoons squeezed together in his papa’s chair. He slept next to me every night. His dad couldn’t do those things. He was always at work. He still is. I haven’t always had all the money in the world, but we’ve had more bonding time together than any other parent and child I know.
He adores his mommy and me my boy. God! He was heaven brought to this earth. The very best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life was bring him into this world. I can never, ever top that. Nor do I want to. I hope that someone reads this and is helped in some way, or realizes that they aren’t alone. I always thought I was all alone. I still feel that way sometimes. I mean, how many women do you meet who lose custody of their children? Women who are wonderful moms? Because I know that I am. That is more satisfying to me than any degree, career, or relationship that I could ever have otherwise.
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope it touched at least one soul. God be with you.
I’d like to leave you with my favorite quote by Kahlil Gibran: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”