"I daven for you daily that you should remain strong and that you should be okay"
I wish I could tell you how much I love you. Starting from the very first time I met you, I was excited to become your daughter-in-law. I instantly recognized your quality and depth of character.
Over the last few years I learned to appreciate the kindness and devotion you have toward your children. I appreciate your attitude toward life. I admire your spiritual connection as well as your connection to people. I learned so much by watching you daven, by seeing the way you’re always ready with a good word for everyone you meet.
I always felt that you loved me, cared for me, and connected with me. And now I need to say goodbye to you.
It’s difficult. I wish I wouldn’t have to. I wish I could hold onto this relationship because you’ve made such a huge difference in my life. You took up an enormous amount of space in my heart (and you still do!).
I’m truly sorry for what you’re going through. There is no way I can fully comprehend your pain, the pain of having your son come back home, especially because he wishes to stay in the marriage.
I understand that it was a major shock for you when you heard I was asking for a divorce. As much as you sensed that there were issues in the marriage and you’d try to help by encouraging your son to be a better husband and father, you couldn’t have possibly known the true state of our marriage. There were issues that cropped up daily that nobody could have known about.
I feel so bad that this huge boulder was placed on your shoulders. I wish I could take your pain away, because I love you. But I also wish you could understand that I can’t, because if I try, I will collapse.
I worked so hard to stay strong in order to keep this marriage. I so badly didn’t want to get divorced. I so badly wanted it to work. I tried everything. And everything failed.
You know, I used to reason that Hashem is giving me two choices, which we know as bechirah. I can either continue to find the strength and courage from within to keep trying, or I can opt out. I chose to work hard.
After ten painful years I realized that the choices Hashem gave me changed. I could either choose to stay in the marriage and live a life in which I’d feel that I don’t exist, until I would actually cease to exist, or I could opt out of the marriage and live a life in which I’d feel alive. I didn’t reach the decision in a day. It took me countless months. Even after I felt completely depleted, I still didn’t opt for divorce. I learned skills to help myself stay afloat. I tapped into a place deep within me to find more strength than I ever knew existed. I stretched and stretched some more and didn’t give up, until I felt myself becoming torn apart. I begged Hashem to give me superhuman strength to continue.
But one day I realized something. Hashem has enough kochos to give everyone an overabundance. He’s constantly choosing how much to give to each and every one of his children, just like He does with children and money. “Ki Hu hanosein lecha koach la’asos chayil — It’s Hashem Who gives me the kochos I need to fulfill what He expects from me.”
By choosing to divorce, I realized, I’m doing what Hashem has sent me to do. He wouldn’t demand from me to stay in the marriage if He hasn’t given me the kochos I need to survive it. I begged Him for those kochos, but the answer was no. I began to feel that I had no presence. I needed to gather the last crumbs of energy to stand up for myself and ask someone, anyone, to come into my life and save me before I completely disappeared.
I feel very sorry that nobody told you where the marriage was holding at an earlier stage in the process. I understand that you would have tried to help. But your son said he felt uncomfortable telling you. Whenever I encouraged him to open up to you he claimed that he wasn’t ready.
I sometimes wished I was able to tell you myself, but I felt that it wasn’t my place to do that. I couldn’t open up to you, and tell you how much pain I was in. I wouldn’t have been able to answer the questions you would have asked.
I called up the rav who was involved in our case, and I asked him to talk to you. He said that your siblings told him not to tell you yet. Maybe they thought they were protecting you.
But it all came crashing down on you at once. The pain must have been — and still must be — unbearable. I daven for you daily that you should remain strong and that you should be okay.
I want you to know that I feel a deep love for you. I care about you. I hope you’re taking good care of yourself. I beg Hashem to make this easier for you. I truly hope He will. I hope your son gets remarried very soon.
I have three requests for you that I hope you can fulfill despite your emotional turmoil. Firstly, I hope you can, with time, understand some of the pain I have gone through while being married. I hope you can understand that I wish I wouldn’t be divorced. It’s a very painful, difficult, and bumpy road. It’s lonely. It’s dark. It’s full of the unknown. I hope you can understand that my decision was made final because I needed to be there for our children as well as for myself.
Second, I hope you can feel the deep love I feel toward you. I hope you can believe me that I respect your son despite his challenges. I beg Hashem daily that you and your son should be okay.
As a final request, please accept my true appreciation to you for being the world’s best mother-in-law and grandmother. Thank you for having our children in mind in all your hartzige tefillos!
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 731)
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