SHE LET GO OF MY HAND
A father's memoir of his divorce journey • by John D. Wattson
A heart-wrenching story that resonates with everyone who has ever experienced a loving partnership.
“It has been painful to realize that John is a CAT who tried to be a DOG all these years, but in the end, he is a cat and will always be. I do not want him to be anything more than who he is. He has tried to be a dog because a dog is what I want, but alas, he can only be who he is.”
~ Veeby QUOTE ~
Queen Veeby proclaims her husband, John…is a CAT.
Her Highness really prefers a DOG. Adorned with shaming pendants, John's collar merely reflects projections from her royal crown. They dance the stately Silent Treatment Tango until her screams of discontent drown out the music. Thus, she abruptly ends their dance and commences the
Game of Divorce.
We travel our life journey in a small boat…just the right size for her and I
Too many times, we’ve experienced rough seas
17 foot waves often try to veer us off course…
The wake of other ships seems intent on tossing us out of our little boat.
The journey thus far has been to just try and hold on
It’s easy to see interesting things on either side of the boat
One or the other of us will lean over the edge to get a closer look
This has only made the boat lopsided…
Nearly capsizing us…way too often
Sometimes, we see the huge waves coming at us
We try to run from one side to the other…to balance ourselves
Even after the waves have subsided, we continue running back and forth…
It’s what we’ve gotten use to doing to steady our boat
This does nothing but continue to create waves
WE create the waves by running back and forth
In a vain attempt to stabilize the boat
If, however, we remain calm…
Seeing the waves and other interesting things as mere distractions…
If we remain calm and simply move together towards the middle of our boat
We can stop creating unnecessary waves…and
Little by little the boat will rock less and less
If we lie together…quietly in the center
The waves will eventually subside
The little distractions will eventually float away on their own
If we cling to each other...the other we’ve always enjoyed…
The rough seas beneath will return…
To calm…to love…to us
You must always remember that
I never wanted our song to end.
I’ve led some, but mostly followed…
It was safer for me.
I have stepped on your toes…
Mine have been walked on as well…;-(
I always loved it when you were in my arms.
Hearing you hum…brought me comfort.
Our dance has been a blessing…
Just look at those three beautiful spin-offs!
We will always be former dance partners.
We’ve ended up on different sides of the room—
You are in the corner of fear and anger…
I’m over near the place of love and appreciation.
Never meant to hurt you…I am sorry
I’ll cry with you…since no words can express our loss
The music has stopped…
The dance is over.
I have to let you go
YOUR LOVE WILL REFLECT IN THEIR LIVES FOREVER
To My Children:
Mom wrote those words to me many years ago…and I believe they have proven true. Both mom and I have loved you kids dearly and we already see that love reflected in your lives. You all were very loved growing up. We had many good times, fun times…with laughing and playfulness. That’s very important to remember. You kids have been shaped well by our love.
To be clear, there was never some Master Plan that mom and dad would meet, fall in love, have you three children and then get divorced…just to mess up your lives. Generally, that’s not how life unfolds. Unfortunately, at this time in our society it’s simply more acceptable for people to bail on their marriage relationships when things get difficult. It really is hard to stick together "in sickness and in health." You each have friends whose parents are divorced…it’s just a thing that is more common these days…you kids have simply experienced that part of life through your parents. I’m sure it probably wasn’t fun to live through—seeing your parents disagree and legally fight—hey, it wasn’t fun for us either!
I threw you all a life preserver before the major waves of divorce crashed over our family…I told you to simply FLOAT through the process…to love on mom, love on dad and to not choose sides while you let the waters simply wash over you. I’m sure you held your breath at times…me, too…waiting for the turbulent waves to return to calmer waters. For the most part, you all have survived. You might even be a little stronger in your upper body muscles from having maneuvered through some crazy times, but…you’ve survived. The waters are calmer now…you can relax.
You three are NOT damaged goods. Your past does not dictate your future, unless you let it do so. You would be wise to take the opportunity to process your thoughts and feelings with a therapist…to get a different perspective and acquire some helpful emotional tools to better understand and deal with your childhood remembrances of mom and dad’s divorce. If you don’t do this, you probably will carry around a lot of emotional baggage for quite awhile…and mom and I don’t want that for you. Explore the concept that forgiveness opens a doorway to peace. Then, walk through that doorway and continue your own journey…knowing you have our love and blessings.
Your mother and I had a very long run of growing up together. We did LIFE and LOVE together, as partners. We lived life similarly to how you will…one experience at a time. And in so doing, we created history together…OUR history and shared life events. Our schooling, our home purchases, our having each of you, our times of crazy…the all of it. There is no absolute right or wrong version of our story—WE were and therefore YOU are. Mom and I often spoke of how blessed we were to have you three ‘golden gum balls’…those gum balls are unique in color and more rarely dispensed in the rolling vending machines.
Kids, I’ve found that the struggles we go through in this lifetime help to make us who we are. The physical and emotional scars we wear are merely testaments to the battles we’ve gone through…and survived—indeed, proof that we are still alive. By learning to live with your whole heart…and accepting the risks that go along with the rewards…you will come to know your own worthiness. I’ve lived, am scarred and I know my worthiness. This knowledge has allowed me to endure all types of accusations when I knew they weren’t true…to endure many kinds of verbal assaults from those closest to me and from those who didn’t know me at all. Each of you were purposefully brought into the world by two people who loved each other very much. While mom and I weren’t perfect, we loved you bunches and did the best that we could.
Each of you are gentle, loving and tender-hearted. Your hearts will become further educated in compassion through your relationships with others. I hope you remain open to experiencing love and marriage. I wish for each of you to love deeply and passionately. It’s wonderful…yet, scary…but there’s no other way to know that part of life. You will most definitely experience hurts and losses within various relationships…again, that’s how life works. Embrace the hurts, accept the scars and then move on.
There will be times in the future when you become aware of softly humming to yourself…in the mindless moments alone in your room, a shower or the car. Your mom used to do that, too…and your dad found comfort in those sweet expressions of her inner happiness. Let those moments be a remembrance that you carry our love in your heart… and you will always be all right…no matter what.
I love you Eliana…I love you Noelle…I love you Mark,
JOHN IS A CAT…I WANTED A DOG
I learned that Veeby had already talked to most of our friends and family…spinning her version of the story…acquiring sympathy. Only a handful were wise enough to not take sides. It appeared that whomever presented "their side" of our story first, usually got to keep those friends! Most of "our" friends…fell into her deceitfully spun web. Lesson learned.
In an email to some of our wiser friends, Veeby used the following metaphor:
“It has been painful to realize that John is a cat who tried to be a dog all these years, but in the end is a cat and will always be. I do not want him to be anything more than who he is, he has tried to be a dog because a dog is what I want, but alas, he can only be who he is.”
While I’m aware she didn’t mean it in a positive way, I’ll reframe the above and wear it as a badge of honor. I like that cats are independent. I’m sure Veeby was frustrated during our time together that she wasn’t able to "control" me like she would have preferred…couldn’t get me to do whatever / whenever…and would have preferred to have a dog that would follow her around, doing exactly what she wanted…including being close enough to kick when she felt like it.
Although her email stated she didn’t want me to “be anything more than who he is”…she sure didn’t act or behave that way in the following months. Instead, she tried to kill the cat…
stomp him…burn him… bury him alive…take away his offspring!
What Veeby never fully understood nor gave me credit for was:
I was an excellent dog!
I let her scream at me, kick me, shame me, abuse me and I continued to come back for more. I would be right beside her as she yelled, then comfort her, love on her…until she would mistreat me once more…over and over again. Evidently, my being her faithful companion for so many years…in the end, meant nothing.
The collar got tighter and the leash got shorter during our time together—it eventually became hard to breathe. If I found shelter and took refuge from the abuse…I was punished more for being a "bad dog" when I returned home.
We actually had a family dog…it kept Veeby very happy by following her around…slept with her once I was gone…and worshiped at her feet.