If you read my blog regularly, you probably know that my husband told me about a month ago that he wants to end our 26-year-old marriage. As you can imagine, it was devastating. I’m the sort of person who does not share my emotions out loud – I laugh easily, but when it comes to the hard stuff – expressing love, fear, uncertainty, sadness, and my needs – that has always been difficult for me. I’ve been hurt often in life, so it’s challenging for me to trust. I’ve been working on all of this – God, have I been working on it! I believe that I’ve had some insights and made positive change – but sometimes the self-doubt and loathing creeps back in – insidiously whispering, “There is something wrong with you. You’re not normal.”
I really wallowed in my grief for the loss of my marriage for a week or so. I was a hot mess, with swollen eyes, red nose, and no appetite. I cried – no, sobbed – several times a day. While my predisposition was to tamp down that raw emotion, I reminded myself over and over that it was okay to feel the pain. I was ALLOWED to be sad, and angry, and feel betrayed. And when I was on a more even keel, I would remind myself that our marriage has not been good for a long time, that eventually I may have been the one to give up, that this pain and sadness might lead me to something I need – a richer, more fulfilling life. A life where anything is possible and where, eventually, when and if I am ready for it, I might find someone who loves me unconditionally – and whom I am healthy enough to love fearlessly in return.
As the reality of the situation set in, I became more pragmatic. Life goes on – there are jobs to go to, bills to be paid, and planning to do about the many complicated changes that are ahead. This separation of our lives is not going to be quick or easy. We are going to have to live together in the same house for a time until we figure out where we are financially and how to pay for two households. It’s hard – but while my grief and anger are justified and even HEALTHY – I don’t want to have my life become ONLY about those things. While this unwanted change was thrust upon me, I want to be like a phoenix rising from the ashes – turning heartbreak into hope, grief into gratitude, and fear into fearlessness.
So, I live my days and nights in relative peace – for the most part. But then, when I least expect it, I’m sledge-hammered with the fear, sadness, anger or longing. I lay in bed and suddenly I am seized with an almost irresistible urge to go into the guest room, climb into bed with him, and beg him not to give up. I mentally have to tie myself to my bed until the impulse passes – leaving me despondent and craving physical contact like a junky craves heroin. When he texted to tell me to have a “Happy Birthday!” I was assaulted with a wave of rage – how dare he wish me a happy birthday? He has torn our lives apart and flippantly wishes me a happy day? Yet, when I came back home and we were in the kitchen together, I turned from the fridge and took a step towards him, on my way to embrace him like I used to do, not even realizing that my body had made this decision on its OWN, without consulting with me first. I was horrified and confused, consciously jerking my hands to my chest and throwing myself backwards with enough force that I stumbled. He is my husband – but he is not. He lives with me – but he does not.
Last night I was watching a show I had recorded on my DVR. One of Oprah Winfrey’s “Life Lessons” series. Let me just say that Oprah bugs the shit of me with the way she sing-talks and how she interrupts her guests, usually when they are in the middle of saying something important and profound. However, I’ve found the guests on these “Life Lessons” shows to be pretty inspiring – so I grit my teeth when Oprah talks and focus on the message. On this show, she had Bishop T.D. Jakes making an appearance. He is a preacher – and you probably know how I feel about organized religion – but the man said some things that resonated deeply with me – and had me sobbing in agreement.
He talked about emotions being “homeless” when “someone proves that they are not safe to love and you have the unfinished business of loving them anyway. The torment that you feel is the homelessness of your love.” That describes things pretty succinctly for my situation – but I have to remind myself that is only one type of love – and I have many. I have the love of my children, my grandchild, my siblings, my parents, my friends. All of those loves have a warm and happy home in my heart.
Bishop Jakes went on to say, “Allow the pain – don’t look for others to anesthetize it,” and to “Bring people into your life that see your love as a treasure – not an irritation.” I’ve been really working on that first part – and the second is just such a wise bit of advice! I do deserve to be a treasure, not an irritation, bother, or inconvenience!
Finally, Bishop Jake counseled, “The more we are embracing our flaws and are comfortable in talking about them, the healthier we will be.” That’s where you come in, my dear internet friends and readers – with you and in this venue, I find it easier to talk about my demons, my struggles, and my journey to overcome them. Some of you have been so kind as to reach out to me, allowing me to make an even greater connection. Some of my family reads my blog, so it allows them see the dusty and cobweb covered places inside of me that haven’t seen the light of day for a long, long while. Knowing that I don’t have to hide who I am, what I feel, and where I’m trying to go is liberating and like a soothing balm to my soul. Thank you.