Lori (@ljcoonney3) had been married for 18 years when she and her husband decided to separate for a second time. She may have promised for better, for worse but she didn’t understand then the havoc her husband’s bipolar disorder would cause. She truly believed ending the marriage was in the best interests of her children. In fact, when I asked Lori what she was most proud of since her separation, she said her children. Here’s what she said:
A lot of people talk about how it is without a father figure, and I know I can’t give them everything, but I get compliments all the time that they’re great kids. They fight like cats and dogs with each other – they’re siblings – and sometimes words come out of their mouths and I say, “Where did you hear that!” but for the most part, they are just great kids.
There’s no handbook or class to expose you to every single thing you’re going to come face-to-face with as a mom, and I tell my kids that I screw up but we talk a lot and I think that helps.
My husband is still supporting the family financially but we don’t see him often. Since we separated, we’ve probably seen him a handful of times. My oldest son, he’s 16 going on 20, he gets it. He understands as best he can but I worry about my younger two and how they feel about their dad not being around.
I call lots of family meetings where we just sit down and talk and I always start and end the conversation with, “Daddy loves you.”
They’re trying to understand,
“How can daddy love us if he doesn’t call, he isn’t here, he doesn’t take us out.”
I know thoughts like that are going through their heads and it’s a hard situation. But I do really think my husband loves them and how he’s behaving is part of the challenge of having bipolar.
We school at home and when my husband was at home, there would be days when they couldn’t get any school done because daddy was having a high or a low. The whole house would be enveloped in that, the entire house would just be wrapped around daddy and his moods and his swings and what was going on with him.
Since he’s been gone the house has felt more like home instead of a prison. That’s being a little drastic but we can leave papers out now and know they won’t be gone through. You can leave notebooks out and my daughter has a little diary that’s safe now.
Before, there were times the children didn’t want to have their friends over because daddy would be coming home from work and they didn’t know what to expect or what sort of mood he’d be in. Now, I can see the kids growing and they’re happy to have their friends over. The atmosphere in the house changed drastically when he left.
The Divorce Coach Says
I think that Lori’s children have fared so well after her husband left speaks to two things. One of those has to be, without a doubt, Lori’s love and devotion to her children. In the difficult situation she’s in, she finds it within herself to assure them, that their father loves them in his own way and they have not been abandoned. Her commitment to them is unwavering. All three of her children are enrolled in the Colorado Virtual Academy, an online charter school which means her children are home-schooled. So add school principal, administrator and teacher to all the other roles Lori has. She is a remarkable woman!
The second thing is the negative impact of bipolar and what it takes to support someone with bipolar. Unfortunately, it is often those who love the person the most, that get the brunt of it. Nobody thrives in an environment of constant conflict and uncertainty. So when the mental illness is gone, the environment changes significantly. I think mental illness puts a tremendous strain on a marriage and it’s understandable that marriages don’t survive. Anyone have any statistics on the number of divorces where mental illness was a factor?
Lori isn’t divorced yet and in my last post in Lori’s series, Lori will share why not and why fear is keeping her from filing for divorce. One of her fears is that she’ll no longer be able to home-school her children and she doesn’t want to lose that.