Moving forward from the pain
CHERYL LAVIN June 12, 2013 6:08PM
Updated: July 15, 2013 1:12PM
Sally’s maternal grandmother was divorced three times. Her mother was divorced three times. She’s been divorced three times. She’s one of 11 siblings. Between them, they’ve had 22 divorces and still counting.
Sally’s adoptive father was abusive, and so was her first husband. Her second husband was the polar opposite.
“He appeared to be a good provider and a good father. Because I’d never seen the real thing, I didn’t realize it was an act. Once he found someone with more money, he was gone. My first marriage was all conflict and emotion. The second was no conflict and no emotion.”
Sally is now happily married to her third husband. “He comes from a good, intact family, and, as far as I know, no one ever initiated a divorce.
“He was married and widowed and feels that mistakes made in the past make you smarter. I met him while I was still burning from my second husband taking off with my furniture and all our cash. He nursed me through the worst of it.
“I’ve always held back in relationships. Over the years, I’ve peeled away the layers bit by bit to achieve real intimacy in my marriage. I could only move ahead because after each small step, my husband’s reactions assured me it was safe to move closer. We’ll be married 10 years next month, and it’s been the best 10 years of my life.”
Of her 10 siblings, Sally says only two have been lucky when it comes to marriage. “My sister’s husband just happened to be a friend of her best friend’s boyfriend. He was so quiet that we were all a bit afraid of him, but he’s warmed up and is one of the nicest men I know. My brother’s wife is very much like me — we even have the same first name. It’s logical because I was more his mother than his sister. As the youngest, he was neglected more than abused, and he found the loving mother he lacked in his spouse.
“My sisters and I are close, and we talk to each other and share our experiences. We’ve had the strength to try again because we have each other to fall back on. We never had supportive parents, but we’ve always had each other and we still do. We take care of Mom, but we still don’t trust her. We trust each other. And, strangely enough, we all have hope.
“There have been studies on why some people do better with difficult lives than others. The word that resulted was resilience. Some people are just better at not letting the bad become the all.
“I don’t feel I’m completely recovered from my childhood and I don’t know if I ever will be. I don’t have any real advice for people going through anything similar. I’d just say, don’t give up.”
Have you been able to move past your childhood? Send your tale to cheryllavinrapp @gmail.com.