Sunday, September 3, 2017

When Dreams Die

One of the gifts that I have discovered as a consequence of marriage to a pedophile has been the opportunity to work with other partners. Sharing our stories and pain has been deeply rewarding and healing for me and I think for them as well.  I'd like to introduce you to one such partner with her permission, of course, and her identity shielded.

Eve* met her husband at a church singles' group and was immediately attracted to his quiet nature and compassion.  People were drawn to his kindness and ability to be present with others so it came as no surprise when he announced plans to go to seminary in preparation for ministry.  Shortly after their marriage, Eve supported "Adam" through seminary training and joyfully joined him in ministry when  he obtained a pastorate.  She loved ministering with him and watching him minister to others.

As his ministry flourished, they began making plans to start a family.  Early one morning she kissed him goodbye as he left for an out-of-town church conference.  He never came home from that meeting.  While folding his laundry she received a phone call from him and heard the unbelievable news that he was in jail, having been arrested in a child pornography and trafficking sting.  Can you imagine how her world tilted and twirled?  Nothing in her life with him led her to believe that this was remotely possible.

Eve and I have shared our stories and our pain over the death of the dreams we had when we were brides.  While her marriage lasted three years and mine over three decades, there are similarities and profound differences in our stories.  The death of a dream is a loss and all losses must be grieved, but just as people process grief differently, variations in one's story may also impact how one processes the losses attached to broken dreams.

My dreams died a slow and agonizing death; Eve's died suddenly with one phone call.  I had time to come to terms with the loss of my marriage prior to my ex-husband's arrest; Adam's arrest required that Eve immediately take steps to end her marriage.  Both of us lost homes, ministries and friends that we dearly loved but while I lost my past, in a way Eve lost her future.  I had spent my entire adult life committed to my ex-husband and our marriage; recovery demanded that I sift through a lifetime of memories and reframe them in light of the diagnosis of pedophilia.  While Eve's recovery also involves this sifting and reframing, her immediate hopes for a family were dashed when her marriage ended.

She remarked recently that the "shock of adjusting to the difference between trying to have a baby with this man to suddenly divorcing him [after his arrest]" continues to be a challenge to recovery and moving on. I had grown children who were devastated by their father's arrest but I had children and a grandchild on the way! Eve understands that it is advantageous that she did not have a child with Adam but the lost potential of children underscores the devastation that he brought into her life.  This is not what she signed up for when she took her sacred vows; it is unfair and tragic.  When dreams die, sometimes hope does as well. 

I've been musing recently on the dreams that I cherished on my first wedding day--dreams of living a long full life with the man I loved, creating and raising a family and eventually growing old together.  This week my third granddaughter came into our lives and even now, after all of the pain, I feel a bit of nostalgia and regret that the man who helped me create this family is not sharing in the joy of watching them thrive and in welcoming new little ones.  The dreams I had long ago as a bride have died and life demands new dreams and a reframing of old ones.  And new dreams birth hope.

Eve is just beginning to nurse hope again--sober hope but hope nevertheless.  I am reminded of a quote I used when I named this year and it seems a good place to end this post.  Hope (and new dreams) "comes into play when our circumstances are dire--things are not going well or at least there's considerable uncertainty about how things will turn out."  SOURCE  My friend Eve is daring to choose hope and to dream again  That is the definition of courage.

*pseudonym; some details changed to protect her anonymity