Monday, October 24, 2016

A Step in the Right Direction

Hello, dear friends,

After all the talking, thinking, crying, doubting, and procrastinating I filed for divorce. I almost automatically want to type in the word "finally" in that sentence, but no, not finally. A step like that requires more than a few weeks consideration, especially when it has been a long relationship (in our case - 13 years).  I took my time (almost eight months), but when I was ready, I did it.

Why did I do it? Was it necessary? Could this break have been avoided, repaired, resolved? These are the questions I kept asking myself during these past eight months, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that - yes, it was necessary and no, it could not ever be repaired. Too many things happened. Too much trust has been lost.

How did it happen? Two people don't fall in love and get together with a thought, " I think I will make this person's life miserable for the rest of our lives." We have good intentions, good wishes, "nothing but the best" in mind for our partners - and ourselves. Yet, it did not work out that way.

 My husband and I have gone through a lot - enough to have split up any other couple a lot sooner, I believe. Seven years ago, I was attacked by his then adolescent son and had to have surgery on my hands. After physical therapy, psychotherapy, relaxation, meditation and god knows what else - I still have PTSD, - it stays with you, apparently, and gets triggered by stressful situations. Sort of an emotional luggage that you lug around with you forever.

Last year, I was overweight, stressed, anxious, and jobless. It seemed that, no matter what I tried, I could not get a job. Not even part-time. I had no income of my own. I was completely dependent on my husband - financially (he had a job), physically (he had the car and drove it, and I don't), and, it seemed, emotionally. When he was upset, my girls and I were afraid to talk or laugh; when a problem needed to be discussed or resolved, I could not address it without my fearing his reaction: a nervous breakdown, a crying fit, a fainting spell. Family and friends suggested I was patient and understanding, for he had a lot on his plate, he had to deal with so much... I tried to be patient. I excused and explained away many a tantrum: health issues, depression, hard day, stress at work, stress at home... the list went on and on and on. Then, one day my daughter told me, "Mom, when I find the right person to be with, I'm never getting married." -"Why?" I was surprised. The answer that followed, however, positively stunned me. "Well, look at the way you are being treated. I'm never putting up with that!"

I looked at myself... Thirteen years. I was fat. I couldn't get a job. I got stressed out with too many people around. Or no people around. I couldn't breathe in confined spaces - and couldn't walk without falling in open spaces. Every time I tried to raise objections about anything, they got filed away and dismissed without even being heard, - or was it just my perception? I could not stop apologizing for things, - yet, I was not even sure what it was I was apologizing for... To complete the picture, I could not have a decent conversation with my daughters about anything - there seemed to be a barrier between us...   I was pathetic.

All these things were true - but they weren't necessarily my husband's fault. I did it to myself, and I had to find a way to get better, to find purpose, to... oh god I did not even know what. All I knew was that- I was unhappy and feeling worthless. I fully accepted that it was my own personal problem, and no one else's, but I did not know what to do. I could not find the source of this misery, this draining feeling that sucked all the life and purpose out of me.

Now, eight - almost nine - months after the separation - I am.. I am. I am! (Drum roll). I don't fully know what "I am" means yet, but I am coming back - slowly, but surely. First, I started to taste food. About a month on my own, I sat down to breakfast  (fried eggs, bacon and tea with toast) - and realized it was delicious. That was the first sign that I was going in the right direction. Then - I got a job... lost a job (to a panic attack and over work)... found another job and kept it. In addition, I lost almost forty pounds since last year.

It does not mean, of course, that life has not been difficult. I don't have the financial security I used to have; I have to work - not just when I "feel like it," but when I am scheduled, and sometimes even when I am not; I have to be very careful with money I earn, and still I may end up without a roof over my head within the next month or two. Am I scared? Of course. I am scared, worried, stressed.. but this time, I can do something about it. I am not helpless. Things may get worse before they get better, but they will, eventually, get better - just as long as I don't give up and do the right thing, for myself and for my daughters.

Friends that see me tell me that I look better than ever... Acquaintances I meet mention how I have "changed" and became more "lively." My daughters and I can talk - and finish a conversation, and (alas!) agree on most things without anyone throwing a tantrum.. At the same time, I have had to say "no" more times than I said "yes" to them. Yet, they listen - and understand. I have a feeling that they are learning something from me right now... Perseverance, perhaps. Ability to stay strong in the face of hard times. I can feel that they truly respect me, and that I am earning it with my actions - every day.

I want to finish this rambling post with the words of my favorite movie character Baron Munchausen: "Long live Divorce, for it takes away lies I hate so much!" All right, perhaps its' a bit vague and nutty if you have not seen the whole movie, but those who have would understand me right now...

Thank you for reading this until the end.

Until next time,