So I actually wrote the following post quite some time ago. I was having a ‘wave’ day, and just had to get some unhappy and sad thoughts out. I never truly thought about posting this, because its such a negative downer thing to share with the whole world. I mean, who really wants to hear about this kind of crap? But I’ve heard and felt unhappiness from quite a few of my married friends as of late, thinking that the single life looks pretty enticing and I thought that a view of life ‘from the other side’ of marriage might be a good thing to share. A sort of jolt back to reality, if you will. Its brutal truth and it makes me feel incredibly vulnerable….but I’m sure the sharing of it will help me knock another hole in one of my infamous ‘walls’. Its, sadly, just one of a million versions of the same ‘ol story. I pray that you don’t ever experience what I write about below and I wish you nothing but love and happiness.
I was perusing status updates on facebook this evening and came across pictures from old friends with their adorable little ones. I absolutely love looking at everyone’s pictures of their kiddos and am always excited to see their chubby little cheeks and read about all the new things they’re discovering as they grow. I laugh out loud at a lot of the stories that are shared and am left giggling over the adorable pictures of this year’s Halloween costumes and Easter baskets. But sometimes, somewhere in the back of my mind, in a place that I never quite give my full attention to, I wonder, ‘When is it gonna be my turn?’ There’s a very tender and bruised spot on my heart when I think about the fact that I have yet to experience motherhood…a part of life that I so look forward to….
You see, I was married for almost 8 years and for 3 of those 8 years, I(we) tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant and start a family. We were poked and prodded and had all the necessary tests done, only to find out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with either of us and absolutely no logical reason that we were not getting pregnant. It was a source of great sadness for me and, if I’m being honest, it continues to be so even today. I used to dream of the time when I could surprise our families with the news of an upcoming addition. I read parenting magazines and shopped baby websites. Decorated the nursery in my head and carefully stowed away trinkets from my own childhood in hopes that I could pass them along to my little girl someday. But, sadly, that day never came. Instead I found myself giving birth to new life in a way that I never expected…..divorce.
Looking back, I’ve felt fortunate that I didn’t have to drag little ones thru the horror of divorce. The last four years of my life have been spent crying, talking, healing, growing…..Its a heartbreak like I’ve never experienced ever in my life, (the death of my best friend in 3rd grade pales in comparison) and I can say that I truly wouldn’t wish divorce on my worst enemy….truly. I have no idea how people with children function with day-to-day life while dealing with divorce and it always amazes me how many people trivialize it. Society makes it look so easy. You run into someone you haven’t seen in 6 months and they tell you, “Oh! By the way, I’m divorced.” “Whoa!”, you think….that’s not good, but they seem okay and they’re smiling so it must be alright. But…what no divorce’ will ever tell you is what divorce looks like when their friends all go home and the lights are all out.
The pain….there are no words….its overwhelming. You’re completely numb, yet feel every little thing so acutely….its like looking through a microscope with blinders on. Everything comes screeching into focus while at the same time, you have absolutely no ability to process all this newfound information and understanding. How is that possible? The judgement you feel has the power to knock you to your knees. I couldn’t even get the word divorce out of my mouth when I had to call the bank about separating our accounts. And the bank teller was a perfect stranger!! That was nothing compared to people who actually knew me! I had to sit my family down and tell them all that, I had failed. That my ‘Happily Ever After’ was no more…that the man they had come to know and love would never be heard from again. Instead, his presence would be replaced by tearful late-night phone calls and an empty spot at holiday gatherings. I endured sympathetic questioning from friends, curious glances from acquaintances and lots of judgement from those standing safely on the inside of the picket fence. Everyone has all the answers and isn’t afraid to tell you what you should be doing/feeling/thinking/acting. Because of that judgement, I now do everything in my power not to judge others because I’m always reminded that “you think you know, but you have no idea.” It was all just too much. My life at the time felt like that moment when you finally come home after a long night of drinking….you collapse into bed with the world spinning around you, close your eyes and pray that the heartbreak hangover isn’t as bad tomorrow as it was today.
The best part of my day, for the greater part of six months, was that moment when I first woke up in the morning…and for the briefest second, I forgot that I was getting a divorce. But then, inevitably, the memories would come flooding back….and the pin pricks would start. You remember the pin pricks, right? The ones you felt the first time you found out that your 5th grade crush didn’t love you back? The pin pricks are the feeling of your heart breaking. Those pin pricks were my constant companion for the first 6 months after the decision to divorce. I had to force myself to get up out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other and deal with another day. All day long I’d walk around fighting the flood of emotion, literally rubbing my chest in hopes of soothing the thousand pinches of pain that my heart endured until I could force my mind to think about something else. Anything else but how I was given up on….told that I wasn’t good enough….ignored and pushed away…that I wasn’t worth the effort….that it was all my fault. There were nights when I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop crying…..I would cry so hard that I would start coughing…the coughing led to vomiting and I would spend my entire night curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor…in the dark…staring at the baseboards of my bathroom cabinet…completely and utterly alone. Wondering why he didn’t love me. It was a million deaths all at once. Not only of my husband, but of my best friend, the life I was supposed to live, the children I was supposed to have, the family and friends that I never got to say goodbye to, a million Christmases and Fourth of July’s, my dog and my cat, my home, my sanity, my security….my self worth. All gone in an instant….with something as simple as a decision. Like taking out the trash, our marriage was tossed out on the curb, rotten and stinky and unwanted. It was gone….all gone. I now have a decade of memories that, if you ask me about it on the wrong day, you’ll still see my eyes rim with tears, over the loss of what was supposed t0 be my ‘forever’. Even though I’m in a much better place now, 3 years out from my divorce, those memories still have the ability to pull me under like a tidal wave and if I’m not careful, they will unpack and settle in for a few days’ visit.
Happiness used to come naturally for me. I woke up every morning and it was there and I never had to think about it. I didn’t know what depression was…couldn’t even fathom it. I laughed and joked and loved life and I couldn’t understand all those singletons out there that were so cynical and afraid of everyone and everything. But now? Well….lets just say, I get it. I understand how one can be so jaded, have so many walls and be so wary of others. Once you’ve experienced that level of hurt, it changes you forever. Happiness doesn’t just happen to me anymore. I absolutely have to choose it and I look forward to the day when the decision to be happy becomes second nature once again….like breathing in and out, it’s just there and I don’t have to think about it anymore.
I’ve worked through a lot of the rough stuff with my counselor, my friends, my family, my spirituality….but my heart isn’t as light as it used to be. I will never again look at the world in the same innocently naive way that I used to. I used to be fearless….I shared everything with everyone….my life was an open book and I loved it. I never worried that people would hurt or take advantage of me….I saw good in everyone. I still see good in everyone, but now I wonder about the bad that I can’t see and it makes me wary of their intentions, always afraid to be hurt again. I’ve built walls 20 feet high and I hate it. I almost wish I’d had walls all my life because never knowing how wonderful life is without them would surely be better than what I’m dealing with now.
I’m far enough out now that I go months without what my counselor referred to as a ‘wave’ day, but every once in a while…..woo, look out! The memories rear their ugly head and I’m down for the count! I just have to lie there and let them wash over me, have a good cry and let it all out. I don’t really know any other way to deal. It seems to help, though I hate myself in the moment for being back in the middle of the heartache and not being able to shut the door on that chapter of my life. The time between ‘wave’ days is much greater now, while I used to have one several times a week, now months go by without that drowning feeling. Thank heaven for progress!
I’ve learned to be careful with my thoughts now, if I let myself linger just an instant too long on all my friends’ beautiful family photos, the lump in my throat returns and the pin pricks all come rushing back. I thank God there’s only 20 or so pins now, compared to the thousands that once plagued me. I’m sure those pin pricks stole about 5 years from my life! Most of the time now-a-days, I wake up and I like myself again…..I like my LIFE again. It sounds strange given the topic of this particular post, but I do find myself wondering how I ever lived that married life so long ago. My life is SO different from what it used to be. I really enjoy having the freedom to travel whenever/wherever I want and to sleep in on the weekends and to generally do whatever I please. I have an awesome network of family and friends that love and support me and I’m finally working towards fulfilling several of my life dreams. I trust that I’m living God’s plan for me, that all this pain and struggle is weaving a beautiful tapestry for me so that one day, I will look upon it and think, “It was all worth it…every second of the pain was worth it.”
In the meantime, I continue to move forward with my life. Though every once in a while, I’ll see a chubby little hand reach out from a stroller, hear the giggles of a little one out in public or feel the soft hand of my nephew on my cheek and I’m reminded of something else I was supposed to do with my life, someone else I was supposed to be……