Hello my darlings! I hope you are doing well. I have to say that I am surprised by how well I’m doing right now. I don’t know how permanent this emotional state is because, let’s face it, the last few weeks have been a roller coaster and my emotions can shift in the blink of an eye, but right now, I feel really good.
Sure, I still feel sad, and wish that things hadn’t had to go the way they did, because I truly did and do love my wife, but that sadness is like a background emotion. And when I say background emotion, I’m not saying that it is being suppressed and not dealt with. On the contrary, I almost think that the pain has been mostly dealt with.
So, today was the big day. The day my marriage truly ended. There are still some legal issues to iron out but for all intents and purposes, I am divorced. The paperwork has been signed and notarized, and will be filed on Monday. All of Sarah’s stuff has been moved out, except for the odds and ends she forgot because she rushed this much more than she should have, honestly (but that is neither here nor there). Tonight I am home alone, with no one but my two cats to keep me company, and I’m truly okay.
I don’t know how to explain it, but I think a big part of me is at the acceptance stage in the grief/loss cycle. When my wife kissed me goodbye for the very last time this afternoon, I was in a state of devastation. The car ride back to the house that I knew would be forever without her presence was definitely the deepest emotional anguish I have ever felt. I sobbed the entire way home. I just couldn’t believe that it was over. It was over. It was truly, over. We were done. We were no more. I didn’t have a wife anymore. I wasn’t a spouse anymore. I was alone; truly alone.
I cried and cried and cried some more. When I finally got home I cried even more in the garage (with the car off, don’t worry, no suicidality to report today) feeling truly unwilling to step inside of my house instead of our house. I knew it would feel half empty, like someone was missing from it. I knew I’d cry when I saw our bed with only one nightstand/lamp next to it and our closet almost completely empty. I knew I’d feel the misery and loneliness of knowing that for the foreseeable future, I would be going to bed and waking up in the morning, alone. She wouldn’t be there anymore.
The warmth of her body next to me in bed would no longer be felt. The sound of her sleeping would no longer be heard. I would never come home to find her there, smiling at me when I came in. I knew I’d never see the love in her eyes as I returned from being absent as I had so many times before. She was gone. She was gone… she’d left me and I was all alone.
Eventually I gathered myself together and walked begrudgingly from the garage to the house. I felt my heart break again as I knew that this place that had been our home would always be just mine, and that it would feel empty. I unlocked the door and entered the house. My cats came to greet me and I told them that it was just us now, that she had left us and wasn’t coming back. I’m certain they understood exactly what I was telling them (not).
I went into the bedroom and saw the empty corner where her nightstand was supposed to be and I started to cry again. I went on like this for maybe fifteen minutes before I sat down on the couch and started to think.
Something came over me as I sat there, considering my future and what it was going to look like. It was an overwhelming feeling of relief. Yes I felt sad, yes I would give anything to make her come back and for us to work on our marriage instead of ending it, but I felt relieved that she was gone. I felt relieved to be alone, truly alone, with nobody to answer to or worry about. It felt like a burden has been lifted from my spirit.
Perhaps it is because over the last two weeks I have been living with a slowly dying hope that she would see the error of her ways; that she’d finally snap out of this temporary bought of insanity and see how much she was giving away. It drove me crazy to watch her contradict this hope again and again, almost defiantly sometimes as if she was out to prove me wrong. I felt so burdened knowing that I was still married to this woman who had become a stranger to me and who had hurt me so badly. I felt so betrayed, so angry, and so heartbroken. My wife had hurt me more than anyone has ever hurt me and I kept having to see her; kept having to go places with her and do things with her. I had to live with her, knowing that she was reveling in the fact that she was starting over while I was forced to pick up the pieces of the life she’d dismantled in a single night of infidelity.
I felt truly plagued by my anguish, anger, and disappointment. It wracked my mind all hours of the day and night, and even when I was asleep. It would not let this go, it could not let this go, it didn’t know how to let this go. This marriage was everything to us. In many ways it was a pivotal piece of our identity, and it felt as though it was being stolen away. Who were we without her? Where did we go without her? How did we live on without her? What were we supposed to do without her?
When nearly every decision you make on a daily basis for 7 years involves some component of taking this person into consideration, it is truly overwhelming to try to remember how to make decisions without them being part of the equation. If I went to the store and wanted to buy something, I always analyzed how it would affect Sarah and our relationship. If I wanted to go out with friends I had to consider her needs too. If I wanted to watch a tv show, I had to consider her desires too.
Well, perhaps I didn’t have to do any of those things, but I did do them, because that was my way of expressing love. I filtered almost everything I did, said, or decided through the lens of my marriage to this woman. I didn’t have to, but I wanted so much for her to be happy and if I could do something simple to impact that, then it was usually the thing I did. I was devoted to her so fully on a daily basis that to consider what to do without that devotion, was almost impossible to guess at.
I truly had to ask, what do I do now? I could not consider her in my decisions anymore, so how did I rework this formula of choice-making without that variable? And that is when I think the feeling of relief swept over me. I realized in that moment that the formula without her, was really really simple. Like, criminally simple. Instead of it being:
Options must be considered first to the multi-variable power of “will this make her happy? Will this make her mad? Will this make her sad? Will this make her angry? Will this fulfill one of her needs?” , second to the power of “Do I want to do this?” and finally, “is it affordable and legal?”
Options are considered by the power of “do I want to do this?” followed by “is it legal and/or affordable?”
Removing that multi-variable component of trying to anticipate if my actions would be taken well or poorly and whether or not they fulfilled a need or left one unfulfilled made everything so simple. I didn’t answer to anyone. I didn’t have to think about anyone besides myself if I didn’t want to. No one could tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing and it have any real meaning unless I wanted it to. No longer would anyone be around to complain about the dishes, or the garbage, or the dirty clothes, or the dirty sink, or anything that they might find annoying (sorry, Sarah, but you found a lot of things annoying; which was annoying).
I could do whatever I wanted in my house, so long as it wasn’t illegal. I could walk around naked, wearing only my cat ears that I got for Halloween (which I didn’t get to wear because somebody decided to go have an affair on me) smoking cigarettes and listening to bon jovi’s “poor some sugar on me” song at full volume if I wanted to. I could get blackout drunk, pass out on the couch, wake up to vomit on the floor, and then pass out again and nobody could say shit to me about it. I didn’t have anyone else’s needs, thoughts, worries, cares, wants, likes, or dislikes to think about except for my own.
I felt free. I could eat what I want, go where I want, come/leave whenever I want, go to bed when I want, stay up as late as I want, watch whatever tv I want, listen to whatever music I want, and sit/lay wherever I want. I had no dog and no wife. I was basically cut off from any significant emotional ties or responsibilities. I have to make sure my cats have food, water, and somewhere to poop that’s not on my floor, but they don’t really require much attention or work from me. They kind of just do their own thing and now I can be just like them. I can do my own thing, my own way, and on my own timetable.
Sure, I still need to go to work if I want to pay for this damn house and my gorgeous car, but I don’t have to if I don’t want to. I could quit Monday morning if I wanted to. It wouldn’t be wise, or prudent, or financially sound but I could do it. I don’t owe anything to anyone now. I don’t have to work a job I can barely stand anymore simply because I have a wife who has crushing student loan debt and who would be out on the street without my help/income. I can go work at target if I want to. I will likely lose my house and car at that pay rate, but I could do both of those things too if I wanted to.
It’s like I have been unburdened. An enormous weight and responsibility has been lifted off my shoulders and my back muscles are just dying of relief. Don’t get me wrong, I bore that weight and those responsibilities gladly (most of the time) because I loved her more than anyone or anything. I would take them on again if she called me right now to say she’d made a mistake and wanted to work it out, but as she has not (and likely will not ever) do that, I don’t have that burden to carry anymore.
I don’t have to worry about supporting her anymore. I don’t have to keep up with the high maintenance that she required to be happy/content (sorry, love, but you know you were difficult to please). I only have to worry about me and my two low-maintenance cats. I only have to ask myself if what I’m doing or considering doing fits into my desires and needs. I get to be selfish… I get to be selfish!! OMG I can be selfish!!!
I spent 7 years trying to be as selfless as possible, and goddamn if it wasn’t exhausting. You can only put yourself second for someone else so many times before it becomes a burden. I tried so hard to put her needs before my own, because that’s who I am, that’s how I roll. I want others to feel so happy and loved and taken care of that I often sacrifice what I want or need for their benefit.
I don’t know how to explain it other than to say that I feel liberated. I don’t think my marriage was an unhappy one (at least not for me most of the time) or that I really wanted it to end, but it was a major responsibility that could sometimes feel a little suffocating or entrapping. I get why they call it the ball and chain now, not that I ever used that term or would ever use that term. They call it that because a marriage is often a huge weight that you carry around with you that can sometimes prevent you from doing things you might want to.
There were so many times that I decided not to do something I really wanted because she didn’t want any part of it or because it contradicted what she wanted/needed. I cannot count the missed opportunities I had for fun or excitement because of her wants/needs being contrary to my own.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she was controlling. She was definitely strong willed and could sometimes be domineering in the way she dealt with me, but I was the one who always made the choice to allow her to get her way. I wanted her to be happy and she seemed most happy when she got her way. It was very rare that I ever truly challenged her or stood up to her when I wanted something she didn’t. When I did, there was usually hell to pay so it often made it not worth it to challenge her.
Unfortunately this was a pattern of behavior I picked up from my mother, who is also very strong willed and sometimes domineering in the way she interacts with me. As a child, I was constantly chastised for not doing the right thing and was only ever rewarded for exceptionally good behavior. I learned from such an early age that my mother’s needs came before my own. If she wanted it a certain way, that’s how it went otherwise there was hell to pay.
My wife and my mother are not identical, but they have some striking similarities. Go figure that when I stop allowing my mother to dictate the terms of our relationship, so then does my marriage fall into disrepair. I decided to become Emma, really without getting permission from my wife. She gave me the green light initially, sure, but after that I was always pushing forward faster than she was ready for. I dictated the terms of our relationship by asserting who I was and what I wanted more often. A year later, we are ending in divorce. Was that the only thing that led to this divorce? Not by a longshot and definitely not as the primary contributor, but I know it played a role in this.
I have spent the last year becoming an independent, self-reliant, and self-assured person. I have gained confidence and poise and empowerment, so it is perhaps the best thing that my marriage to a woman who was used to me being timid and unchallenging came to an end. I hate that it did, and I firmly believe that it didn’t have to end at all, but in many ways it was the last thing stopping me (Emma) from truly taking over Robert’s life to make it my own. She was the last piece of our life as Robert, really, and with her leaving, we are left with a blank slate to begin anew.
I hate that this blank slate had to come the way that it did, and I will assert to my dying breath that it could have gone so very differently, and could have included her and I still being married at the end, but I have no choice but to accept what has happened. The slate has been washed clean and there is no way to get back what we had before; even if we tried, it would be different, which doesn’t necessarily mean worse, but it would definitely be different.
I was willing to go there, I was willing to make the changes necessary to meet our needs together, but she wasn’t, so now I am left alone and unburdened. It breaks my heart that this freedom and this liberation had to come at such a high cost and that it has left so many wounds. Those wounds will heal in time, but there will always be scars from this divorce and from her betrayal of my trust. I truly feel sorry for the next person I become romantically involved with because they are going to have to deal with these scars. I just hope I find someone who is not only worthy of my time but is willing to put in the effort necessary to overcome those scars that she’s left in me.
In closing, though, I feel pretty good right now. Not amazing, and definitely still very sad/disappointed, but I feel like a new dawn is breaking and my life as Emma is truly beginning. I hate that I won’t have my wife’s hand to hold anymore as I walk along this path that unfolds before me, but I’m certain my time alone will not last forever, or perhaps even that long. I know there is the perfect person out there waiting for me right now, the one who will help take this new life Robert and I have started together to the next level of fulfillment.
Much has been lost, and much has been broken beyond repair, but all is not lost, and much can still be fixed. My marriage is over. It is done. It is finished. I am truly a single person now, living on their own, but the friendship she and I built will withstand this trial by fire. We are too good of friends for this to be our ending. There is far too much love shared between us for us to walk away forever. Our bond extends beyond this life, and it always has. It’s just that our paths must part for a little while until the time is right for them to run parallel again, except in a new and hopefully better way.
I am left feeling reborn like a phoenix. I must shake off the ashes of the life that just ended before I can truly begin this new one, but our youth has been restored and our strength will return in time. Soon, we will be brilliant and beautiful and soaring in the clouds again. We are not finished with this life. We have much left to do. Many will know the name Emma and they will find great love and harmony within it. This is just the beginning.