Being a big reader, when my marriage fell apart one of the first things I sought after was the comfort of a book. Words from someone else that might resonate with and console me. Give me some understanding, something to grasp when all was unfamiliar and unrecognizable. Frustratingly, I found very little that I felt I could relate to. There were an endless selection of books slated towards the jaded wife (ie. husband cheated, husband left, husband was abusive, husband was an alcoholic…) but I wasn’t anything like the woman scorned. I was leaving on my own accord, as unfortunate as the situation was. My husband wasn’t abusive, he was faithful as far as I know, and he didn’t abandon me, but I had been miserable for years nonetheless. And why? It was a huge question, and nothing I read resonated with me.
Then I stumbled across Coming Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma. The tagline is what caught my attention… “why relationships end and how to live through the ending of yours.” It was just what I needed and I tore into it like a monkey on a cupcake. Her main point was that all kinds of relationships have beginnings and endings and there is no reason that married couples should be exempt from the process.
The part that reassured me of my normalcy was the chapter on The Emotional Process of Parting where she discusses the “I can’t believe this is happening to me” phase which was somewhere I had camped out for quite awhile.
She says, “Another form of “This can’t be happening to me” is, ‘I can’t be doing this. I can’t be ending my marriage. I can’t be walking away from all this… from my [husband], my house and my kids. This isn’t me. I can’t be doing this. Other people are cruel and crass and mean and selfish enough to walk out on their marriages. Not me. I’m a nice person. I wouldn’t just walk out on someone. I wouldn’t have an affair. I did, though. But I’m not that kind of person. Not really. And I meant it when I married [him]… in sickness and in health. Forever. Till death do us part and all that jazz. I can’t be doing this.’ “
That was me. That was me in exact form. I felt understood and, in a weird way most people probably can’t understand, I felt NORMAL. What I was going through was normal, my feelings were not unreasonable or alien or disgusting.
The rest of the book discusses why we enter into relationships in the first place, different kinds of relationships and why they end and, as mentioned earlier, how to go through the process of parting. There is also a personal workbook in the back that I was too snobby to use.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through the end of a relationship, whether it is a marriage or another committed union. I was helpful and encouraging to me as I’m sure it has been to countless other souls.