Divorce papers should come with a disclaimer. WARNING: Your marriage may appear to have been worse (or better) than it actually was, once it is behind you. Perspective can be a weird thing. I used to feel like the more time that passed, the more my marriage came into sharp relief. That was really painful for a while.
When my ex-husband and I were separated, I was not sleeping. At all. MAYBE two hours a night. Anyone who has battled that kind of insomnia knows it will make you seriously crazy.
I was crazy for a minute.
I would be up all night thinking about how things “used to be.” I would think back to times when the kids were little, about holidays past, about how it was when we were first dating. Butterflies and rainbows. And I would mourn those days. My grief was deep and wide and real.
During that time, I treated each and every memory as though they were archeological treasures. I would unearth them, dust them off, admire their beauty and then weep because I feared that life was lost to me. I turned our marriage and our family into a museum, and I would wander its halls deep into the morning hours. All of those memories, trapped behind glass- inaccessible. My stomach would clench at the thought of him building new memories with whoever she was- the girl of the moment. Of him throwing away what I believed to be priceless and irreplaceable.
This was not a healthy endeavor.
When I began to ACTUALLY dig into our past, and learn what had been going on, there was a palpable shift. I knew we were headed for divorce. That our marriage was, in the words of my pastor, irredeemable. I began re-examining the evidence.
Everything felt like a lie. EVERYTHING.
I would sift through those same memories, the ones I’d only recently idealized, and determine they were all junk.
I would hold up the photographs that only months before I’d mourned as lost masterpieces and declare them forgeries. Fakes. In the harsh light of what I finally knew to be true, all of my treasures were cheapened. Fools’ gold. I would read the notes I’d tucked in his briefcase when he was traveling for business, and wonder what the nature of the trip had really been. I looked at our wedding photos and wondered what was really going through his mind that day. I was humiliated and angry.
I told my friends, my sisters, and him that I knew he had never loved me. I absolutely believed that to be true, and was undone at the thought of it.
I think, as with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Nothing, and no one is all one thing. Our marriage was not one thing.
There were good times. Somehow, coming back to that truth was more painful that accepting the betrayal. How many of them were truly what I believed them to be? I will never know. That’s okay. There are many memories that are now forever tainted. I will always view those things through the lens of what I can’t un-know. That’s okay, too.
I’ve taken the time to mourn the ACTUAL relationship. Not the fairy tale. Not the horror story. The flawed, broken love story that it was. It wasn’t good for me or him, ultimately. It wasn’t sustainable, in the end.
I’ve learned that it never pays to paint the entirety of a relationship with such a broad brush. There are sections of our story, parts of the canvas, that are not what I believed them to be. There are parts that were truly beautiful. As I back away from my marriage, the details- both the beautiful and the awful- become less distinct and I can see the big picture. No, it was not all one thing, but it brought me to where I am today- and the view from here is lovely, friends. It really is.