It is amazing to me how long eight weeks can feel. Eight weeks ago the foundation of my marriage was beginning to crumble and the catastrophic collapse that would follow was only a day away. In those eight weeks I have experienced a lifetime worth of emotions. I have felt the deepest despair I have ever known as well as the most intense anger I’ve ever experienced. I have felt lost, confused, afraid, rejected, and worthless.
Like a mallet striking a gong, the deepest traumas from my childhood resonated through me from head to toe when she left me all alone. I have been forced to look my darkest fears and my most malicious demons in the face and have survived to tell about it. I wish I could say that I feel stronger for having gone through what I have, but right now I feel like anything but strong.
Even as my life begins to calm and the new routine of being alone becomes more familiar, I feel myself breaking; or rather I still feel myself so broken apart. I have such a clear vision of what I wish to do in this life, such clear objectives that I wish to accomplish, but I still feel so lost and alone. I have been unraveled and all my struggling has done little to put me back together again. I feel as though I am adrift at sea and only the light of the cold stars is there to guide my path.
I put on a good show for those around me that says I am okay, but I am anything but okay. I am merely going through the motions. Every morning I wake to this nightmare where my wife is gone, where I am left alone with a dismantled hope for the future. Even two months later I am still unpacking the pain I feel. It’s too large to bear all at once, and so I am forced to let it out a little at a time.
People expect you to get over divorce like it’s not this awful and traumatic experience. They expect you to still be able to function the way you did before. To still have the drive and motivation that you used to show. They expect you to just keep going to work, paying your bills and upholding all of your responsibilities when all you want to do is just lie in bed, crying and eating comfort food.
They expect you to find ways to comfort yourself when you are hurting or having a bad day, when the only thing you want is comfort from the person who doesn’t deserve to be missed by you. They expect you to either get back up on the horse, so to speak, and put yourself at risk of having you heart broken again, or they expect you to wait to date again so you can heal. What they don’t seem to understand is that both of those options suck.
Being alone to heal gets lonely and in that loneliness your fears are all but confirmed that you will be alone forever. If you don’t even try to not be alone then you are surely doomed to be alone forever, right? So then you decide to try to date. At first it’s exciting. Online dating is like window shopping for a lover, except you have no idea what each item costs. Most often, you don’t have enough to cover the cost (i.e. they aren’t interested), sometimes you think you have enough money until your card is suddenly declined (friend-zoned), and other times you have more than enough but the item you are considering isn’t anywhere near the quality of what you came looking for. Sometimes there are even those pushy salesmen who just won’t seem to go away until you are rude to them.
And when the rejection comes, and it almost always does, it’s like the wound is reopened. When you are rejected right out of the gate it is one thing. You sigh and say, oh well, I can try again. But when you start talking to someone and you are really getting along, you start to hope. You start to feel like maybe all those declined transactions or knock-off items you shrugged off were just the path that leads to this one. You talk for a while, you exchange numbers, you text and text and text some more. You start to feel yourself opening up even more towards hope. You like them and it seems like they really like you in return… and then it happens. They drop that word “friends” and your heart sinks.
Wait, what? Friends? You mean after all of this connecting we’ve done, all the flirtation, all the all-night until it’s way past our bed time texting we’ve been doing is only going to result in friends? There is someone else they are interested in, they say, and then you realize it. You are the knock-off item to them. They have enough to cover what you cost, but they have their eye on something better.
And so you go back to being alone and trying to heal. The wound has been reopened and there is nothing to do but change the bandages and hope it doesn’t leave a scar. You sit at home, alone, and you drink; not because you want to or even because you enjoy it, but because it’s the only way to numb the pain from that reopened wound. You consider giving up and throwing in the towel. You laugh at yourself as you consider taking a vow of celibacy. I mean, why not? It’s not like you are going to get any anyways (at least none that you’d actually want), so why not devote yourself to the service of the church?
Oh wait, they all think you are an abomination and would also reject you. You drink some more. Damn, even the Catholic Church is like, “No thanks we have our eyes on some better candidates… but we can still be friends.”
So you drink some more and this time you add in a cigarette, because why not? It’s not like there is anyone around to complain, because you are alone. So alone with nothing but time, endless obligations, a half empty bottle of gin and some stale cigarettes. Isn’t being single just grand?
You get up, you go to work, you stay there way longer than you need to because why go home? There is nothing waiting for you there, you might as well just get some extra work done. You leave a few hours later than you really should have and you drive home in the dark because it’s already 7 o’clock. You get home and your two cats are there to greet you with affection. At least someone is happy to see me, you think; and then you start the process all over again with the hope that one of these times, the pain won’t be there anymore. The disappointment and rejection you feel has to go away eventually, right?