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The Titan Submarine Tragedy: The Detail I Can't Get Past

I'm not even going to touch the topic of whether it was appropriate to make jokes or memes regarding the irony of a bunch of billionaires who ignored safety concerns and met their tragic end while attempting to visit the resting place of the many people on board the Titanic that didn't make it into the lifeboats (the poor people). There's plenty of people with opinions one way or another about that (see TikTok if you're interested) so I'll leave that to them.

I was listening to some news a couple of days ago and the newscaster was talking about the people that were on board, including the father and son duo. She mentioned talking to the mother and one of things she was quoted as saying was that her son "didn't even really want to go". Think about that for a second. He didn't even really want to go. But he went. And now he's gone.

My past and experiences jade me enough to jump to some conclusions here that may or may not be accurate. I jump to "controlling or narcissistic father, son who doesn't want to rock the boat or incur dad's disappointment or ridicule". Or maybe he was a loving and attentive father, and the boy went along because he saw how excited his dad was and didn't want to disappoint him.

The fact is that it doesn't even really matter what the specific dynamic of that relationship was--the boy didn't want to go, and he went anyway--with tragic consequences.

You might be asking yourself what this has to do with divorcing a narcissistic or abusive partner or why I'd be discussing it here. When I heard this the other day, my thoughts went immediately to all the times my own son did things he didn't really want to do because he was too afraid to tell his dad how he really felt. His dad is a hunter--it's something that was important to him growing up and something that the kids had a lot of exposure to from very early on. My daughter took to it easily--she loved going out with her dad and grandpa in the early morning hours to set up decoys around the pond and wait for the ducks to arrive. I remember how proud she was when she shot her first deer. She loved it. My son (17 mo. younger), not so much.

I could go into his reasons for not enjoying it, but they're irrelevant. The fact is that he didn't enjoy hunting--he told me so regularly. But guess what he did when he was with his dad and they were going hunting? He went hunting. He used to tell me that he would aim over their heads on purpose. That's one way to handle it.

That's the way this topic ties into the divorcing an abusive partner. It's the one thing that I wish I had done a better job of--teaching my children to use their voices--that their opinions, their likes and dislikes matter and that their feelings are valid and will be listened to. It's so hard when your partner is abusive or disordered because the very core of what they're doing is negating your voice, invalidating your feelings or experiences, or ridiculing you for expressing anger or frustration. Years of silence or going along in order to keep the peace set an example for my kids that unfortunately, they learned well and will likely take years for them to unravel.

None of the regrets that I have are about leaving and trying to provide a healthier environment for my kids. Most of them are centered around the ways that I failed to support my kids emotionally--because I didn't have the knowledge or the gift of hindsight that I do now. If I could give only one piece of advice to anyone leaving an abusive partnership and attempting to coparent with their abuser, it would be this: Empower your children.

Empower them with their own voices. Teach them to express their emotions--both the happy and the harder ones to experience like anger, frustration, or sadness. Talk to them repeatedly about the fact that no one--not even you can tell them that they don't feel how they feel. Teach them about the power of their voices and that they can and should be able to tell adults how they feel about any given situation--and that healthy adults will listen and respect their feelings, even if the outcome of the particular situation isn't changed. Teach them that anyone who tells them that they're overreacting or being too sensitive or mocks their concerns about something that is causing them distress is not a healthy person. Those are abusive behaviors intended to control or manipulate others. Talk about this so much that by the time your kids are pre-teens, they'll roll their eyes every time you say "Your voice matters" or "Your feelings are valid."

Did her son tell his dad he didn't want to go? Or did he tell his mother in secret, imploring her to "Please don't tell my dad". Did his dad tease him or make fun of him for not wanting to go? Did he call him a chicken? Did he tell his son he needed to "Toughen up and cut the cord!"? Did the son finally agree? Or did the dad even give him the choice? Or did the son just decide that he would go all on his own because he knew how happy it would make his father? It's all moot at this point.

**I want to reiterate that I have no idea what the dynamics were in the family of the father and son that were killed in the Titan tragedy and I am in no way implying that the father was abusive in any way. **

My son is 23 today. He does go (and I think enjoys) duck hunting every now and then. I'm honestly not sure if he's ever shot a deer. It's all on his terms now though, at least the hunting part. I was talking to him on the phone the other day a few weeks before his college graduation where he earned his associates degree in gunsmithing--something he is very good at. I was asking him about what his plans were immediately after graduation, timeline for moving, etc, when he says to me "You know, I never really wanted to be a gunsmith." Sigh. I know.

My heart aches for the mother that lost both her husband and her son in this seemingly avoidable tragedy. My condolences to the families and loved ones of all those lost.

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