I believe the thing that stops us is the very concern of what happens next. What do I do? Where do I go? Or better yet, who will I be if not me or the person I’ve been for so long? The trouble is the ideas of what comes next or what comes after.
After what, you ask?
What comes after the first step is the second and then the third. And next, there’s the uncertainty of unknown roads and unfamiliar territory. I have heard people say “May the bridges I burn light my way,” but what happens when the gleam from the fire’s light is faded in the distance?
We can take the ideas of loneliness for example. Or we can look into the loss of comfort. We can talk about the aftermath of what happens the day we decide to move on. We can talk about the fears of not being missed or being valued. We can talk about the uncertainty of the crowd. Who will be there for us? Who will look to keep in touch? Or, will it be that time passes and the move to change and be true to ourselves will only serve as proof that we didn’t belong where we were in the first place. But what if we’re afraid? What if we are afraid to be lonely or afraid to be alone? Meanwhile, in the wrong places with the wrong people, loneliness is both apparent and abundant. So the questions about our lonesomeness are almost contradictory.
There is no reason to pretend that change is easy. There is no reason to pretend that breaking up isn’t hard. Even when divorce is necessary and wanted, there is still an aftermath. There is still an adjustment ahead. There will be new surroundings that might take time to get used to.
Not everyone finds their way so easily. Certainly, not everyone finds that divorce is fair. There are the dirty, underhanded tricks, which are played by people who’ve found themselves to be scorned or angry enough to seek revenge. And revenge; let’s not pretend this does not exist. Let’s try not to pretend the idea of closure can often mean getting the last laugh or the final word.
There are people that have used their children as weapons in divorce agreements. And yes, in the courtrooms of divorce, children can be seen as weapons of mass destruction. There are the financial onslaughts and the below-the-belt tactics. There is parental alienation. There is emotional blackmail and although split, there are the remnants of the arguments which never seem to go away. Nothing is forgotten. At least, this might be how it seems.
There are some that find they get along better after divorce. To which I say this is great. There are couples that parent better as divorced couples. There are some that have managed to split peacefully and amicably. This is great too. There are others, however, and the number is plenty that have not found the same peaceful split. There are others who’ve been failed by an imperfect system or failed by a judge that was neither fair nor impartial.
I go back to the initial goal, which is to find a way towards a better, happier and healthier life. Isn’t this the intention for us all? Aren’t we only looking to better ourselves? The answer, to which this should be obvious is yes. However, there are the unresolved tensions and the resentments that can go back for decades. There are the programmed regrets that we seem to hold so tightly.
In the awakening of a need for a new life, there is a moment of realization. There is a mixture of feelings as well as a need to assign blame or fault. And too, there is an unfortunate claim of responsibility, which is a betrayal of self because this realization is the moment when we understand what we’ve surrendered and what we volunteered to lose. This part sucks!
As a person that has experienced divorce, I think it is only fair to explain that yes, I was angry. I was hateful at certain times. I was resentful with a list of reasons to hold grudges. In fairness, and more to the point, in all honesty; I was more angry at myself than anyone or anything else. I was angry for the trades that I accepted. I was angry for the times that I settled for results but the results were never what I wanted. I was unhappy. At best, I was unhappy to be in a bed with someone I could hardly stand to speak with. By the way, the bed is a cold place to be when it gets like this. There is the frigidness of the empty section in the middle of the bed, which God forbid, you accidentally touch them. Or, what about the pillow wall, which is like wall down the middle of the bed that states, “You stay on your half and I’ll stay on mine!” I was unhappy to feel that cold feeling at night. I was unhappy to be in a household that was defeating, uninspiring and unfulfilling. I was angry about the time I invested and angry about the warning signs that I turned away from or disregarded because at the time, it was better to believe the lie than to understand the truth and face my fears of being alone.
These circumstances are mine. I do not say this is the same with everyone else. However, I have met countless people that can and do relate to my story. I have met with people that stayed in their marriages because they were afraid to leave or they couldn’t afford to move. I have met with people that wished they would have (or could have) left but since they never dared, the never did, and after years of being the same way, they wondered if it was too late to make a change.
I suppose my first realization that my divorce was necessary was when an argument broke out and my two year-old daughter was playing in the room as if this was normal. I looked at her and thought about her future. I thought about the man she would choose some day to be her husband. I thought about the relationships she would form and her ideas of what “Normal” would be.
I looked at her mother and I looked at the way we were together, which in fairness, we were miles apart. There was no togetherness. There was no connection. There was certainly no love and there was definitely no happiness. We disliked each other on good days. On bad days it was even worse. I can recall a sense of failure. I can recall a fear of loss. I can remember the worry of being alone or on my own. I had the shameful ideas of failure. I was worried about the way people would look at me. I was afraid that I would leave and find out that I had no one. Plus, there were financial concerns. There were money problems that I would have to face. I went from living in a big home to finding a small apartment. I had to face people and answer the basic, “What happened?” questions, which was interesting to say the least because most people said, “Yeah, we all saw this coming a long time ago”.
One friend mentioned to me about his wedding video, which was a wedding that I attended. I was still living in that ex-life of mine. Part of his wedding video was the most “Laughed at” part because part of the wedding video was with “Her” and I at a table. There was a microphone passed around for the video man to record the guests with all their hopes and wishes for the newly married couple. When they came to us, “She” went on to give a little speech that was so inaccurately fake and rehearsed. We literally talked about divorce on a daily basis, but yet, when the camera was on “She” gave this fake speech to the cameraman. She ended her thought with, “I hope you are as happy as we are,” and then she handed the microphone to me. I took the microphone and looked at the cameraman and with my eyes rolling back in response to her comment, I said, “I hope you’re happier,” and then I passed the microphone along to the person sitting next to me.
Of course, the person I am now would not handle things the same way. I admit to my wrongs. I admit to my unhappiness. More than anything, I admit to the fact that I forfeited my life to something that did not match my best intentions. I behaved poorly. I said mean things too. I walked the line and I settled. Yes. This is true. And it wasn’t until I reached a level of maturity that I understood that this was not “Her” fault at all.
I used to blame my ex-life for so many different things. I blamed the people in my life. I blamed the circumstances. I blamed my in-laws for meddling where they didn’t belong. I blamed our so-called friends for instigating problems in my home. I blamed everyone else. And then one day, I took a good, long, hard look at myself. I thought about all the times the warning signs came up and yet, I ignored them. I thought about all the times I never placed myself as a priority. I thought about all the times I contributed to the arguments, the ignorance and the negligence. It wasn’t until I understood my part in the dynamics that I turned a corner and realized that I don’t have to argue anymore. There is no need to prove my point. There were no reasons left to prove myself to anyone.
Although rocky, I will say the freest I ever felt was the day I decided to stand up and move away from people that I never belonged with in the first place. I wish I could say this was easy. I wish I could say I didn’t suffer any pain. I wish I could say that I wasn’t alienated as a father. I wish I could say lots of things but truthfully, this is what happened.
I do have moments when I struggle about the relationship with my daughter. I do acknowledge the times when I could have handled things differently. I certainly acknowledge the times when I could have said things differently. But . . .
The one thing I can say is faults and all, I did the best I could. I stayed consistent and persistent. And no one can take this away from me. As for arguing over who was right or wrong; I don’t have to do that anymore.
I have met with people that have been divorced for decades and still, they hold the resentments so closely. They talk about the injustices and the betrayals. After seeing this, the last thing I want to be is miserable for the rest of my life. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure this is why I was divorced in the first place.
Rather than argue, I chose to recover. Unfortunately, not everyone chooses this path. And I know. I get it. This is not always so easy. I believe when people say this. But not being easy doesn’t mean happiness is never possible. I can say this with certainty because in spite of the complications from my past, I learned to find myself and above all – I learned to be happy.