Monday, January 13, 2020

First we Break. Then, we Grow

I couldn't believe when I opened the Blogger browser my homepage popped right up. Like I'd posted yesterday, like I'm not a stranger to this place, as if I'm here regularly. But not so. It's been well over a year since I wrote (I don't even remember my password to get in here), with my writing tapering off considerably the year before that. And many of you wondered "why?" The simple answer is this: when you are going through hell, it is very, very hard to write about it. You must get through it, and write about it on the other side.

I'm back. I'm not on the other side yet, not even close I'm afraid, but I'm at a place of reflection where I finally feel ready to share. I knew this time would come, because the need to write - to share, connect - for me, is as integral to my life as food and drink. Not writing hurt me deep in my soul, and I was lost without it, but I didn't want to force it or rush it, because that wouldn't be fair. Sure, I could've ignored the elephant in the room and written happily about this day or that, but it didn't feel right. It didn't feel honest. How could I write about a lovely day at the beach with the kids, while something so momentous and life-changing was going on in the background? How could I not give credence to that? I simply couldn't. So, I sat. Stuck.

I haven't been completely gone, as most of you know. I have been posting little glimpses into my life on Instagram (and Facebook) which has mildly satiated my urge to share. But as we all know (or should know) by now, no life is accurately depicted in a series of prettily arranged boxes on your screen. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but no picture could (or really, should) sum up what has been happening behind the liquid crystal curtain we all sit behind. Some of you began reading between the lines, and noticed something was amiss. But I wasn't ready to explain, to tell. The time wasn't right and, frankly, putting it out there would make everything more real, tangible and painful. Also? Many of you are not going to like what I am going to say and I will, once again, be opened up for scrutiny, judgement and God knows what else for telling my story.

As I alluded to in my New Year Instagram post, Scott and I have separated. We have been separated for a year now. While I understand this will come as a tremendous shock to many of you, to almost everyone closer to us, it was not. The demise of our marriage wasn't an implosion, or sudden impulse (as some might wish to believe) driven by rash decisions or clouded judgement, it was, rather, a slow erosion that began many, many years ago. It's impossible to say exactly what went wrong, if we could've altered course to change the outcome, or if we were just ill-suited from the get go... Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot this last year, and one of the things I have learned is that everyone has a story. And, more often than not, their story will serve their views and opinions. They will grab on for dear life to that story, convince others their story is true, and believe wholeheartedly that their version is the "right" version. But - as with all stories - there are two sides. What is truth for one person, is not the truth for another.The real story often lies somewhere in the middle. But the bottom line is, Scott and I were not good together. We both made a lot of mistakes over the years, hurting each other terribly in the process, while consistently and systematically bringing out the very worst in each other. By the time we realized how bad it had gotten (after years of on and off therapy), it was too late. I had nothing left to give and had been worn down to a version of myself I no longer knew. I truly saw no way out of the devastating and terribly unhealthy cycle and put a final stake in our marriage by finding refuge elsewhere, thus kicking off the most painful and difficult year of my life while simultaneously shattering the image I had unwittingly created of "the perfect family".

You see, breaking up a marriage is one thing. Breaking up a family? That's another. There are no words that encompass the magnitude of this anguish. The only one I can think of and use regularly is: agony. It is agony. While many - if not most - aspects of our life as a couple were unhealthy and toxic, there were many beautiful parts as well - namely our three girls - and it would be wrong to recall a decade together without recognizing that there was some magic in our union as well. Make no mistake, the dissolution of  a marriage is a death. And just like any death, it is a devastating loss. The grief and sorrow come in waves and without warning. The memories trickle in and trigger tears without consideration of time and place. Then come the pain, guilt, and shame. They are so very heavy and always there, camped out in a spot in your heart where they will live forever. You don't forget and move on, these new roommates make space. You learn to live with this little hole in your being, and try as you might, it cannot be filled with anything, ever. You must acknowledge the presence, recognize you are a different person, and adjust. This is much easier said than done, I'm afraid.

Scott and I have been very good about putting the kids first and being as cordial and civil as possible, and the kids, for the most part, are doing amazingly well considering. We share custody, we live five minutes from one another (I am on the boat with the kids, he in a condo down the road), and we attend recitals, school events and the like together. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day together as a family at Scott's house with some friends, we laughed and hugged and had a great time. We are trying as best we can. It's hard, I cannot lie. And there are many days I think "Is this all a dream? Will this pain go away? Will all this be worth it? Will this ever get easier?" and my friends and family assure me, that no, this is not a dream, yes, this is for the best and for sure it will get easier. But friends, it's hard. It is so, so, so very hard.

This new year has brought me a sense of release and purpose that I have not had. I can now write again, share my feelings and pain as well as my triumphs and adventures. I'm inspired and free. This unfortunate development is yet another layer in my life, and something I cannot ignore or gloss over. It is there, and will be here. This has been, and will continue to be my safe space in which to share. And I truly believe that maybe by sharing as honestly as I can (without airing dirty laundry or being disrespectful) it will lead me to a better place and, if I'm lucky, maybe help someone like me feel less alone.

Because we are never alone.

I am ready to share again but I understand if some of you no longer want to stay here. That's okay too.

Thank you for being patient with me.


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