A year ago I kicked my emotionally manipulating, cheating husband of 25 years out of our home, stuffed his stuff in his truck until the doors wouldn’t shut, and filed for divorce. I felt good riddance to bad trash. He and Ms. Frozen-Bitch-Face, the latest nitwit he’d ruined his career over and the final one he’d lost his family for, could be free to wallow in their sordidness. I was finally through pretending he was anything but a sickening liar.
While it seemed lickedy-split to many, because I had always been the loyal, loving wife, in actuality, I had begun emotionally leaving him those last few years, physically as well since I would do anything to avoid him in and out of the bedroom. All of my respect or regard for him had slowly, then completely drained away as his deception became harder for him to hide and impossible for me to ignore. Filing for divorce, surprisingly to me, didn’t release me from the pain that had built up those last years, it only gave him the freedom he was too weak to ask for honestly. Like the many other times in his life when he self-destructed, he could run the opposite direction from the wreckage he’d created, and as usual, pretend he was the victim. (Of course, as a 61 year old with bad knees, it’s more like hobbling the other direction.)
Why did I allow myself to stay in such a toxic situation? The simplest response given to me by a therapist was that I wasn’t ready. What I understand now is that the heart takes longer to catch up to the brain, (or maybe it’s just the difficulty in letting go of the idealism of a marriage). His complete lack of judgment grew exponentially through the years, eventually creating a complete train wreck of our life. Foolishly, I had believed I could somehow stop it with sheer will, always hoping that the light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t another train barreling down with consequences from his bad behavior. Ignoring that inner voice, the one constantly pushed right below the surface of reason, into the crevices of denial, in the end, caused me immense pain that I am still trying to get past.
A close family friend, having gone through a devastating divorce, similarly brought on by betrayal, understood how awful I felt, but warned me how truly awful it could get before I’d feel normal again. (Whatever normal is.) The overwhelming sadness I had not expected, was debilitating; I couldn’t eat, sleep, or even imagine how I could make it through the un-bearableness of it for much longer. I remember pleading with her, how long will it take before I feel okay? She answered, “Six months, in about six months you will begin to feel better.”
I was incredulous, six months of feeling like this? I didn’t think I’d survive it. Yet, I did make it to the six month mark, then the eight month, and ninth month; in another week, it will be one year. One year to the day, the hour, the minute when I finally could no longer wear boots tall enough to wade through his compulsive spewing bullshit. If there was an X-RAY of my heart and mind at the end, I’m sure it would reveal something akin to shredded meat. (What would his X-RAY reveal? Emptiness, where his brain and his heart should be, and probably a bad liver.)
Last weekend, I climbed a pretty significant hiking trail, even stepping around not one, but two rattle snakes without freaking out. Such is my life on the OMG-scale that snakes can’t even scare me. As I stood at the top of that small mountain, (or tall hill, take your pick), out of breath, looking out through tears at the green valley below, I reminded myself that a year ago I could hardly walk to the end of the block, much less hike uphill several miles. Getting him out of my life had lifted a lot of weight from shoulders, as well as my ass.
My friend Kris is going through the exact situation and on long calls, we attempt to buoy the other during those dark hours. I told her I understood why breakups are compared to kicking heroin. (Scientifically, the same areas of the brain affected by addiction are the same areas affected by love and attachment.) Kris said she’d rather be kicking heroin than feeling the pain she feels. Yep, me too. This thing called divorce is full of ups and downs, the ups being being far less up than the downs that can leave you out of breath.
I attempt to focus on what I’ve accomplished. I rid my life of a bad, very lonely marriage where my life became all about trying to hold up my end of the bargain, as well as his. I am diligently working to forgive myself for being treated as something less than some object my ex possessed and lost through carelessness, along with all of the other possessions long gone from his life. Finding myself again is a daunting task, but it’s my task. I allowed it to happen.
I’ve worked on lots of things in my life this last year, including rebuilding some sort of career. Climbing up a career path, in many ways retracing steps I took 30 years ago, is an accomplishment. (Two years ago I didn’t think I could get a job as a greeter at the nearby superstore.) I wish I could say I feel proud of the terrain I’ve covered in a year, sometimes I do, but then I sink back into the sadness at the realization I allowed me to be so far down the list of things to take care of through the years. As much as I attempt to avoid the company, regret is often my companion.
Last weekend, (Valentine’s Day weekend wouldn’t you know it), I was packing boxes to move from the last home he and I shared, the first time in almost 30 years I’m not moving to be with him. In one of the old boxes, I found our wedding album. (I was shocked, I thought I had sent off every photo of him I could find last year.) Staring at photos I hadn’t seen in years, I remembered the truth, I hated my wedding day. Those pictures reminded me that even on that day, my inner voice of reason was on high alert. Now I know it wasn’t pre-wedding jitters I struggled with, it was suppressing the truth I didn’t want to admit about him; about me; about us. (Lies choked down with champagne and wedding cake, probably not an infrequent occurrence.) I burned the photos; I’m not wasting anymore postage on sending him shit.
At the one year mark, for every hill I’ve climbed in the past year, I still feel there’s a harder one right before me. Somewhere, sometime, there’s got to be a plateau where my heart and mind can meet on even ground and appreciate the view without tears, without snakes, and enjoy the other side. Maybe in six months?
- Reeling From Divorce? How To Heal After A Bad Divorce
- How To Deal With Conflicting Emotions During And After Divorce
- Thanks For The Divorce!? How Gratitude Can Help You Heal
- How To Heal Your Heartbreak After Divorce