My Personal Story of Divorcing with Dignity

By Flora Posteraro – 

When I got married, I dreamed about babies and a home and a family full of love.  Exactly what I had growing up. I thought it would last forever. Italian Catholics don’t believe in divorce.  No one in my family ever got divorced. After all, who gets married to get divorced? Not me! And yet it happened.  My happily ever after didn’t last. My husband and I split after 13 years of marriage. Our son was only 18 months old.

What happened next was not good.  Things got ugly. I hated my ex. I hated to see him or be around him.  I’m not proud of it but it’s true and I feel we can only learn from being honest.  After years of animosity, something clicked in my brain and I didn’t want to hate anymore.  Hate is exhausting. Hate zaps your energy. I wanted peace but to achieve peace I knew I had to forgive.  My friend asked me “How did I let go of the hurt and anger?” I summed it up this way. I said, “Think of your kids.  You get mad at them but you never hold onto the anger. You let it go because it’s your kids”. That’s what I did. I let it go.

Sean 18 months old

I also wanted my son to grow up in a loving family even though his family was divided. I didn’t want Sean to be at a soccer game with his parents on different sides of the field.  I didn’t want my son in tears at his First Communion because his parents were not sitting together. I didn’t want my son to have to pick which parent to hug first at graduation because we were apart.  It was not my son’s fault that we broke up so we should not break his heart.

So I forgave.  I forgave my ex, I forgave myself and he forgave me.  Trust me, it wasn’t easy. Sure we still had issues but we were united for Sean.  We stood together at soccer games. We sat next to each other at Sean’s First Communion and high school graduation. We went on college visits together and recently dropped our son off together at the airport.  In fact, my ex is remarried and has a daughter and we all get along and do things together as a family.  I told a friend we put the “D” in dysfunction.  She corrected me and said, “No Flora, you guys are functioning as a family. Wouldn’t it be nice if all divorced families were like this?”

18 years later, my ex is a great friend!  If I need something, he’s always there and I do the same for him.  We are Sean’s role models. The proof is in a recent note from Sean.  Sean wrote, “I felt an intense amount of emotion looking back and seeing you guys wave goodbye four times at the airport. I was like really!! Keep it moving, especially you mom, you kept waving to me like I was leaving for war. But that was okay, I felt SO loved by both of you. It made me so unbelievably grateful to have you guys as my parents. Not everyone can say they have that kind of love from their parents, but I can. Thank you for your unconditional love, I am so blessed.”

Sean 20 years old
Actually, we are blessed that we found a way to divorce with dignity. I’m not saying this can work for everyone. Clearly, there are situations when it just won’t work. But if I can spare one child heartache by telling my personal story, then it was worth it. It is possible to Divorce with Dignity. It is possible to raise a happy child in a house divided. I didn’t get the fairytale but I did get the happily ever after. I have Sean!