And then there was the problem of what COULD I say and still be truthful to myself and be fair to the others that were in my life? What was MY story to tell, and what was THEIR story. I'm sure our versions of events are very very different, given it's all about perspective in the matters of relationships. And I want to be honest and fair and realistic and all of that. I really do. So keep in mind as you read on, that this is just my version and I'm sure others in my life will have massively different version of how things all went down. Take it or leave it, this is MY version, as honest and real as I can tell it.
My husband and I are separating and working towards a hopefully amicable divorce. I love him very much and I think he loves me very much and I KNOW that we both love our children very very much. And I tried, and I would like to believe he tried as much as he could too, but we just couldn't keep it together. While he may love me, I don't think he likes me very much... and right now, I don't like him very much either. So it's complicated and it's super super messy.
I would like to think he is a good man, and maybe he is, but to be honest, we have grown so far apart, I'm not even sure I know him anymore. Maybe I never did... and maybe I just believed what I wanted to believe about him because it's what I wanted so badly for all of us. I'm telling you, I wanted this SO badly to work and just couldn't see the trees for the forest, so to speak. I really truly believed he was supposed to be my lobster, my happily ever after, and my everything. And I wanted to be everything he wanted and needed too, but he was quick to point out (and frequently towards the end there) that I was not at all, any of those things. And to a certain extent, he was very right. I asked things of him that he couldn't provide and then I was mad when he wouldn't even try, even though he told me point blank that he couldn't or didn't want to live his life that way, and that wasn't fair on my part. I tried to change him, to fix him, and that should never have been my role and it was never fair to ask that of him and it wasn't fair of me to put that much pressure on myself to be what he needed or wanted either. To this day, I'm not sure he ever did tell me what he DID need or want, just that it isn't me and this suburban boring life that we had built. And while that hurts like hell to know that, I have actually moved past and through the many stages of grief including denial, bargaining, and anger (a whole lot of anger) and all the rest... to move to acceptance.
The funny thing was that when I finally gave up and said, "You win. You finally win. I give up. I don't want to fight anymore. I'm done trying to convince you that you have a good life and that I'm worth the fight, our marriage is worth the fight, and your kids are worth the fight. And I shouldn't have to convince you of any of that anyway. You are miserable no matter what I do or do not do, and I'm miserable trying to make you believe it. You win. I don't want you to be miserable and I don't want to be miserable anymore either. You win. I'm done. Go. Go find the life you want and good luck to you. I'm not mad anymore. I'm just done." After all of that, THEN he realized, "Oh shit! She might actually leave." And THEN he wanted to make some changes in his life and for us to work on things, but after all that we have been through, all that has been said and done and all that has been not said and not done. I just don't want to try anymore.
No. No, I'm not doing that. I begged him to try to make this work for years and he didn't want to do it then, but now that HIS life is being ripped apart, now he wants to change and make some repairs. Sigh...Well, if he wants to change, I will root him on and hope that this change will bring him closer to his kids in the future because he still has a chance to turn things around with them at least. They adore him and I hope he doesn't take them for granted again. And for their sake, I hope he is serious and is really going to work on their relationships. But for me, it's a non-starter, I can't go back. Too much hurt. Too many cuts. Too many times I have heard pretty words to be followed up with all kinds of actions that don't match those pretty words. No, I just can't. I have to move forward now. Looking back is too painful, so forward is the only direction I can go.
So two months ago, he left. He left to focus on how to begin anew and to focus on himself. He left and I held his children while they cried themselves to sleep. He left and I cried until I'm pretty sure no liquids were left in my body. He left and he became alive again. And I'm happy for him that he has found a new sense of self in his journey. I wish him luck and I really do mean that; I wish him all the luck in the world. From my understanding he is doing well. We don't talk frequently and when we do, it's pretty shallow in terms of topics. He's tried to talk to me about his progress, but I frankly don't WANT to hear his personal growth story. I'm happy for him but I don't really want to hear about how he is so much better without us. Maybe I will be able to hear about all of it one day. But not yet. Not now. And I'm not sure ever, if I'm being totally honest with myself. He focused on himself so good for him, but I need to focus on me, my needs, and and my life going forward too and I don't feel the need to share any of that with him. It's not about him now. Not for me. And he doesn't ask too many questions about us anyway so I'm not sure he would care to hear how I'm progressing in my own way or any of the stuff that we have been doing while he was figuring himself out.
He doesn't want to hear about how his daughter sometimes knocks on my bedroom door at midnight because she doesn't understand all of what's going on or why this is happening to her, and she is just so damn sad. He doesn't want to hear how I hold her as her body shakes from the painful tears she sheds and I quietly let her grieve for the home life she had just 3 months ago. I try to reassure her that the pain is OK and normal and to let it all out. We just have to keep going because the good part is on the horizon and we just have to get through the shitty part to get to the good again. I try to convince her that while it seemed normal to her 3 months ago, it wasn't really normal or healthy at all, it's just all she knows. I'm trying to straddle the line of being honest with her about how much awful it really was and how it was so tense and sad that the air crackled with resentment and discontent from both of her parents for so very very long. That is not the home I want for my sweet girl. She deserves better than that kind of environment. But she doesn't understand and I don't know the words to explain it well enough to her. So I just hold her while she cries while I try to fumble through with the right things to say to be both equal parts compassionate about how she is feeling and also giving her hope for a future without so many tears. It sucks and I worry that I'm not doing any of it right, but all I can do is keep going, just like I tell her to do. Right? Isn't that what I'm supposed to do now? Ugh... I have no idea.
And he doesn't ask about my son and how he thinks he now has to be "the man" of the house even though he just turned 10 last week. He doesn't know how when his son sees his sister cry, he quietly just goes to get her kleenex and pats her arm and maybe gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. His son sees her sadness and hardens himself that he won't let his sister or mom worry about him too. So he is strong for her and for me, even though I tell him he doesn't need to do any of that. I try to break down those hardened walls that he is forming but he kisses my cheek and says, "Mom. She needs this stuff more than me. I'm OK. Just make sure you give her an extra hug tonight. She is real sad today." When you hear a 10 year old give emotional analysis of our home life and making decisions for who and how much TLC they need, it will blow your mind. And I'm caught speechless. Over and over again.
I notice how they interact with one another now, it's different. Like they are clinging to the only familiar things they have ever known. They still fight like siblings do, but sometimes it's more intense than I have ever seen. Sometimes I wonder if they take it out on each other because they are so mad, but don't have anyone to direct it at, so they just try to kill each other... in the end, they know that they will always have each other and they will both forgive so it's a safe place to be angry and sad. When I break it up, it's like the realization of what they are doing hits home, and the hugs are more fierce and the apologies are more real. They are begging one another to forgive and please don't you leave me too, even if that's never the words they say to each other. It's weird and I don't think I have any right to tell them anything on that front. Their relationship is their own, but I'm so glad they have each other and I'm just here trying to not fuck up more shit in their life, so I leave it alone.
So that all being said, after two months, yes, we have had some serious moments of sadness dealing with changes in our family dynamics but we are also doing so much better too. And it may be hard to believe but we have had some seriously funny moments in our life too. Like when I was taking my son to karate lessons and an ad for a dating app came on the radio and he looked over to me and said, "Y'know, your soul mate could be in China?" Talk about one of the most awkward and uncomfortable moments in my adult life to hear my 9 year old suggesting that maybe I get back in the saddle again. My mouth dropped to the floor and said. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm WHAT? He replied nonchalantly "Ya never know. Could be out there anywhere..." And shrugged and that was it. I asked if he was looking for a girl and he said, "No mom. Not for me. For you. He could be in China or France or wherever. You don't know." I said "Well, hmmmm" because I could think of nothing else to say. He bounced out of the car like this conversation was nothing more than a convo about the weather. I sat back in my seat thinking Holy shit. I am not ready to get dating advice from someone that hasn't hit double digits yet... And I would love to say that was just one of awkward weird moments in the past two months but that is one of about a hundred that ended with one or all of us exasperated, laughing, and crying tears of ridiculousness at how incredibly odd and surreal this whole experience has been for us.
And then the three of us have learned a lot about each other in many other ways too. They are far more self-sufficient than I knew. My daughter helps with laundry. My son likes to help with cooking. Since their dad used to do a lot of the cooking, it's been a learning curve on my part in that department but I'm relearning and they have yet to go hungry or without clean clothes on their bodies. The rest is just details, right? We are figuring things out as we go and we spend more time with each other without the tension and chaos that was floating around us. Both the kids are doing well in school. I've talked to both of their schools and the schools have been enormously helpful in keeping them on track and keeping them in a place that is kind, safe, and filled with love, and has become a second family of loving grown-ups to help share the burden of their experiences. I am forever in their debt to them for helping me through this with my kids. And their dad is slowly moving back into their life in some ways and I hope he continues to keep going in that direction. They need him and they adore him. So even if it hurts us to be in the same room sometimes, we will suck it up and do what is best for them no matter what. And I am confident that we can do that as parents. And if we can't, well we will cross that bridge when we come to it and make decisions that are best for them in the moment.
And lastly I want to make it clear that I'm not the hero of our family story and he's definitely not the villain. We've both had things in our shared life that I think we both look back and say... Wow. We really messed shit up there and we both wish we could go back and do things different. But you can't. There is no such thing in real life as black and white in all of this. It just is, what it is... a long and fuzzy grey area for all of us. I've not been the best wife. He was not a good husband. But I'd like to think neither of us are bad people. Just people that didn't work out as life long partners. We gave it the college try but in the end, it's time to move on. I will pick up my pieces and he will pick up his... and we will get through the shitty part to get to the happier place on the horizon. Just on separate paths with some overlapping stories with our kids. I truly hope that someday we will be sitting in the same row at our daughter's graduation or our son's wedding and high five each other that our kids turned out super awesome, in spite of us and all our shit. I want that and I think he wants that too. But for now, it's time to move on and build new lives for ourselves and our kids.
So that's it. That was as fair and as real as I can make it without saying all the things that sometimes bounce around in my head. I have days where I hate him. I have days where I miss him. I have days that I don't think about him at all. There are days that I can think of nothing else. There is no easy road here, for any of us. But I am making a conscious effort to find the good, find the humor, find the joy that really does surround my life because there is good and humor and lots and lots of joy too. My world will keep on turning and so we take it one day at a time. Breathe deep when it gets hard. Sit and feel all of the bad things wash over me and then pick myself back up and keep going. I have a right to be pissed, and hurt, and sad sometimes (and so does he) but I have to let it go and move on. What is meant to be, will be, and I can only do the next right thing for me and the kids. Why is that so easy to write out and so much more difficult to DO? Life doesn't come with a handbook and I probably will screw up a lot of things in the coming year. But that is sort of 'par for the course' in the Un-Martha's world, right?
"Some people may not understand the journey, that's ok. It's not for them." So on with the journey.