There are about 6 people in the world that know about my second marriage failure and pending divorce.
Let me rephrase that. From my side, there are about a half a dozen people that know the truth about Husband #2’s departure. I’ve kept things low and quiet. Prior to his leaving, NO ONE knew that we were having problems big enough to end our union. Partly because I made a promise to myself (and subsequently him) that if I had an issue, I would discuss it with him and not talk behind his back. I kept to my word, so telling my closest friend of his decision to leave in 2013, came as a surprise. “I’ve never heard you say one bad word about him, I had no idea!”
It was a lesson learned from the crash and burn that was Marriage #1 where I complained about Husband #1 to anyone who would listen. In the end, I realized my self-righteousness wasn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all me and my healing.
I’ve kept up that façade for the last 3 years. Ask me today about Husband #2 and I’ll smile and tell you how he is doing well, happy in his life and how I think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Which is the truth, but only the part I want you to know.
Why am I doing this? What are my possible motives? Jealousy? Pride? Shame? Embarassment?
It’s the pretending that holds me back from healing completely. In order to get well, I’ve had to get real and take off the mask.
And my mask is strength.
To the outside world, people see me as strong, dependable, holding it all together, the rock that keeps home life in order while my husband tends to personal family business a time zone away.
I could go into the varied reasons of why the face of strength is important to me and the deep primary family roots that showed us weakness was a flaw but what would it matter? Justification is an excuse, a stumbling block to real change. In order to get well, I’ve had to get real, peeling back my mask and looking at the dark inside. As long as I pretend to be strong, the real problem doesn’t get fixed.
To confess the weakness inside is difficult. I’ve told two of my closest friends about how I feel. I’m ashamed. I’ve failed again. I’m embarrassed. This anger I showered on my spouse is not who I am but I don’t know where it comes from and I don’t know how to stop from relapsing (without lots and lots of practice, but who will stick around for me as I learn?).
Keeping these doubts inside, in my head, is cowardice. When I talked to my closest friends, I found out something vital:
Everyone is struggling.
We all wear masks of one type or another. We all pretend. My one friend is fearful. she sees me as brave, but I don’t think of myself as brave just willing to try anything once. My other friend sees me as resilient, getting up no matter how many times I get knocked down. Her fear is rejection. And another friend sees me as decisive as she worries about making mistakes. Once I peeled off my own mask and was completely honest with the people I loved, I realized I was taking steps to move forward.
Shame is like an anchor. I don’t have to live guilty and condemned. The price has been paid. Husband #2 left.
So here’s my confession: I don’t have to have it all together. I keep coming up short in my marriage relationships. I’m ready to change.