He said to me, “our marriage is dead.”
And, I agree; three weeks ago, I cut the head off.
In truth, our marriage had been a ghost of an idea for a long while, and I had exhausted myself being the one to propel us in whatever direction we could go. He was a ghost of man; an invisible husband whom I recognized every now and then when we shared funny things, or when he would fly off the handle at something. Mostly though, he was unrecognizable underneath his shroud of bitterness and resentment. It was so heavy, it burdened both of us. I tried for years to help him exorcise it but he seemed determined to hold on tight. As if letting go would expose him, would force him to see outside of himself and thereby, see who he was on the inside. Perhaps he was afraid of who he might discover?
But, I was tired; I couldn’t carry him, or us any longer and I let him go from my heart. I didn’t know what to expect when I went home that day to tell him that I was unhappy, and that I wanted to leave. Had no expectations for the future except that I knew I didn’t want to be in this union anymore.
He will crumble and wither away, and I will be the cause of it, I thought. Seeing him weep in front of me, alternately wishing to hug me and push me away, was horrible. I didn’t know how to help him. I only knew that this was the path I had chosen and I was resolute in my decision. That first week was incredibly painful for both of us – sleepless nights, tearful talks. I cried so hard that I thought I might puke, and I knew I was crying for the loss; it felt like grief, the sudden first stage when all you feel is heartache and sorrow, and all you can do is stand in the grocery store wondering what the fuck you went down this aisle for.
We both started seeing a counselor separately (ironically, and I think now, universally intentionally, the same one) during the second week.
My resoluteness remained. I had clarity and peace of mind, and I attended the first two sessions with a sense of “I know what I’m doing, so why am I here?”
Then something happened to him that I was not prepared for; he discarded the shroud. After the initial flood of emotion had subsided, he saw clearly, and for the first time how he had been living his life. And, how it had affected me and our marriage. He talked, he wrote, he opened his heart and his eyes. Within these three weeks, he has almost made a 360 within himself.
At first, I was glad for him. After all, I had tried many, many times to remove that fucking shroud myself. I had suggested, cajoled, tried to help find ways for him to be who he really was meant to be. But my efforts had been fruitless, and I knew that only he could do it for himself. So, yes, I was happy to see this man emerge, become brighter, happier – in just three weeks.
Yes, as he grew, I felt myself deflate.
I went away by myself for a weekend in the mountains to hike, and to contemplate…things. But it didn’t go as planned. On the Saturday, I got sick and ended up unable to move from the bed or the couch. I was quiet all day. I stared out of the window at distant bare branches and trees writhing in the wind; it was a gloomy day, reflective of my mood, and I thought nothing at all. I missed my family, I knew that. Not necessarily him, but my kids definitely.
The next day, I came home and felt no leap for him when I saw him in the driveway. And, it wasn’t until we were alone that I felt absolute sadness again. I cried and cried, thinking I was grieving still, but the words that came to mind were filled with the disbelief that we’d gotten things wrong for so long. How could I have spent the last fifteen years like this? How could we?
Since coming home this Sunday, I have been skating a well of tears. Every act of kindness he shows me, every thing he says, everything that proves he had discovered his truth, pushes me over the edge and I couldn’t figure out why. Until today.
My session began before she even opened the door because I sat in the waiting room in tears. Here he is, my husband, becoming the man I’ve always wished him to be, and I am angry. I am so angry that this didn’t happen sooner. That he didn’t hear me all these years. That he didn’t have the strength to do this before I let my love for him go.
I know quite firmly that this could not have happened any sooner; I wasn’t prepared to make the choice, and he wouldn’t have been prepared to deal with the fallout. It would have been contentious and ugly.
So, what do I do with this anger? I have to let it go, too.
I don’t know how yet. And I don’t need to know yet.
What will become of our marriage now that the old way no longer works?
I don’t know yet. And I don’t need to know yet.
My heart is sore. My eyes prickle with tears a lot.
I have set my boat afloat. It was a bit rocky at first whilst it found stability, but now I’m on open water. I need to learn how to sail by myself, and how to judge my environment before I plot a course.
Where will I go? I don’t know. And I don’t need to know yet.