A Tale of Divorce, Depression, and Discovery

It’s really late and I still can’t sleep. My doctor would tell me to put down the coffee and stay away from the laptop screen, but the silence of sleeping scares me and my bed is big and empty. I scroll through pages and pages…young and divorced, divorce in your 20s, I do. I did. I’m done!…and on and on. There are two types of articles I stumble upon: 1) I’m an old blogger who writes about the downfall of the sanctity of marriage and how the internet and instant gratification is ruining America’s youth and 2) Badass chicks who found themselves, learned who they really are, and got sassy tattoos and epic vacations when their husbands peaced out. But there’s no articles about me, a 26 year old girl struggling with depression as long as she could remember whose husband left the marriage after two years telling her he never really loved her, and was having a relationship with a woman 20 years his senior. Where’s that damn article?

My ex and I met when I was 18, he 17. We actually met in study hall and went to prom together. After meeting him, for the first time, I felt love and worth. See, my entire life I’ve felt like nothing. I’m not sure when it started or where it came from. Nobody abused me. Nobody touched me. I suppose a combo of genetics, personality traits, and never feeling good or loved enough lead to a long history of mental health challenges.

When our relationship went full steam ahead, a whirlwind of co-dependency, jealousy, and control came forth. I needed him to silence all the self-abuse my mind hammered into me daily. You’re ugly. You’re fat. You’re stupid. You aren’t worth a damn thing. No one will ever love you. Oh wait! He does. Maybe you are okay. But neither of us recognized either of those issues because we were kids going on 40, moving into our apartment together after high school graduation and starting a joint checking account. We justified the insanity by saying how mature and ready we were for adult life. We didn’t need to make friends in college. No, no, we had each other and that’s all we needed.

Our marriage proposal wasn’t even that. I told him I wanted to get married so we went to the jewelry store that afternoon to purchase a ring. Now, the non-traditionalist in me said fuck norms and I can pick out my own ring, but that had nothing to do with it. After 5 years of dating, I needed marriage to bandage all the self-hate.  We got married. It was everything I wanted. On the outside it looked perfect. But behind closed doors no one knew that I wrote my and his vows. He refused to write them. He never told me I was beautiful on our wedding day. On our wedding night we didn’t have sex. I came up with so many excuses…he was nervous, he’s shy, he doesn’t know how to express his emotions, it was a long day…but they were just that, excuses.

We went on and continued as a married couple. We moved 3 hours away from home to start our big kids jobs. Our first year in the new city was great. We explored and experienced a diverse and liberal culture we only dreamed of. But once the exploring stopped, we looked at each other and no longer saw a married couple, but roommates. I asked for marriage counseling to help get that spark back. He refused and said nothing was wrong. He said he was just stressed with work.

And then everything stopped. No longer did I hear I love you. Affection was obsolete. Negative and hurtful comments were made about my weight, appearance, and above all things, my running routine and schedule. No matter what I did, I could never be good enough.

It started again. He was slowly tearing away the bandaid he once put on my self-hatred. Blood began to ooze out, so I put on more gauze, more excuses for the shitty behavior. One night, when I came home from work, his phone lit up with the words Love You! on the screen. I confronted him. He ripped the bandaid off, no warning, no soothing gel, no comforting phrases. A relationship was happening with this woman and he said he didn’t love me and never really did. After a few weeks of separation, accusals, fighting, screaming, begging, pleading, he asked for a divorce. The blood came.

My wound was gaping and each day he was gone salt was thrown into it. I couldn’t sleep for days. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t laugh, or even crack a smile. I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain. My mind wouldn’t stop. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why is a woman, 43 fucking years old, better/sexier/prettier/smarter than me? I mean he’s in his early 20s and she’s married with kids! I’m worthless. I’m stupid. I have nothing left. My life is over. I’m nothing without him. I don’t want to go on without him…  

An unexpected, dear friend came to my side. He ended up moving in with me for a few weeks, living out of a backpack and laundry basket. We binge watched American Horror Story and cooked fancy dinners. He taught me to crochet and I made way too many scarfs. More importantly he was there to hold gauze over the wound until I saw the doctor. He never taped the gauze down, but held it until I could stand on my own feet and get the help I needed.  And in all actuality, I did see a doctor. I started receiving intensive treatment for my depression.

Eventually my hopeless thoughts stopped. I started eating. I slept. I learned that my pain was two fold: a grieving cycle over the end of a long term relationship and my self-hatred. During times of high distress I wasn’t able to distinguish the two. I would often think, my relationship ended because there was something wrong with me. But that isn’t true. My relationship ended. It just ended. It ended because it was a co-dependent abusive hot hot mess (and let’s be real…it wasn’t hot). It ended because he chose to start a relationship with another person before he ended the one with me. And more important than all that bullshit, I have so much worth and beauty that is completely separate from that relationship.

So what did I learn from my divorce? I suppose that’s how you are supposed to end these things. I learned that my worth isn’t defined by another person, but by what I believe and do. My beauty isn’t defined by a number or silhouette, but by my kindness, womanhood, smile, and eyes. If you look deeply in my eyes you’ll see flecks of gold embed in the brown. You’ll also see a story of a girl who is so very privileged, yet handed struggle after struggle to only learn she can and will overcome anything.  Although I can’t find a 20-something divorcee article that I can fully relate to, and have yet to get my freedom tattoo and vacation, I’m on my way. Maybe in a few months I’ll be a badass chick who found herself, but until then, I’m me, and I’m pretty fucking great.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”


Today we have a special guest blog from Trash the Dress private online support group member, Cynthia.

 

Sometimes I find myself lost in this feeling of being overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with the knowledge and the assurance that I am where I’m supposed to be, and everything happens for a reason. I don’t know why I am where I am, and it’s not easy to be here.

But I am so thankful.

Thankful for the interactions with people that allow me to speak the truth into their hurt beings. I speak these truths with total conviction, because I believe them. I believe them with everything in me.

I believe that being married to the sake of being married is detrimental to the soul. I believe that relationships in life are a two-way street and it doesn’t matter what one does, if that relationship is one-sided it won’t work and it will rob you both of your lives.

I believe that you cannot control other’s choices, and you cannot allow other’s choices to control you.

I believe that even though it hurts, and even when it seems like constant pain is inevitable…. there is an end, and there are better days coming.

I know that this experience does not define my character and my life, but what I do with this experience is the foundation of my life moving forward.

I look forward to each day, even the dark ones because I’m living my reality and not wasting time on a life that I never really had. I still stumble, but these days I can get back on my feet on my own and I smile while I dust myself off.

I’ve always been a “planner.” My dad often quoted John Lennon to me saying, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”. That statement rings no more true in my life than now. This experience in life has allowed me to let go of the negative connotations that comes with a life of plans, and I’m able to enjoy each day for what it is. I am not afraid of the unknown – I can’t wait to see the surprises life brings. I no longer grieve for the future I planned, I am open to the future that my life has planned. I am along for the ride, and intend to enjoy it.

365 Days

Its amazing the impact that 365 days can have on you. To think about it, 365 days doesn’t seem like all that much when we live life focusing on getting through the day to day. Yet to others 365 days can be the difference between life and death. Life and death, whether it be emotional or physical is exactly where these past 365 days teetered me. Yet I’m alive, well, and have life abundantly.

I was turning 23- it seemed to be another day as most birthdays are- but I struggled to fight the battle for the familial interaction I always desperately yearned. I was married to a man who didn’t know the meaning of a gift and believed that love and gifts should be given year round, not just on some corporately dictated day. That would be fantastic if he meant it, or if he had known what love was. I didn’t need a tangible gift, or lack thereof, for me to know who I was to him.

I was another year older, and another year more in the grasp of some miserable life I thought I deserved. Every year, I would buy myself something around my birthday and tell everyone he had got it for me, just so that I could continue to persuade others into our false fairy tale.

Little did anyone know that I would go home and fight and argue to simply spend my birthday with my family. I would be given restrictions, of how long we could spend with them of what I could and could not share with them… My life was dictated to me, every moment of every day. I would fight my case, until it wasn’t worth fighting anymore and I would give in. Even on the one day a year when it’s okay to be selfish, that wasn’t the case for me. It was just like every other day, I was simply a supporting role in his life. Until he had something to prove, then I’d be this amazing woman who still went home and got broken and beaten down every night.

In these 365 days, I faced the facts. The lies were brought to light, and my life was given back to me. Moment by moment, I slowly grabbed onto my life again- making decisions myself, doing what I wanted to do-and moment by moment brought me closer to the last day of that life. To some it may signify a broken failure, but to me it meant that I had finally allowed myself to see the truth in the surrounding lies. I ran and never looked back. I did something for me, a purely selfish decision for both my dog and I. And the months continued to pass, and hour by hour it made it easier to accept my new life.

I am now 24. A divorcee. I’ve learned to appreciate every single moment that life gives you. To appreciate the sunsets and the sunrises that take your breath away. Never to look at yourself like a failure, but to instead take life and learn from it. Because every day is new. You have baggage, but it’s the kind of baggage that says, “I’m not going to accept anything less than I deserve.” It’s the kind of baggage that says, “I’m strong enough to walk away from abuse.” It’s the kind of baggage that gives you the chance to live the life you want. Go back to school, rediscover those hobbies you weren’t allowed to embrace, wear those jeans he hated, eat those foods he told you would make you fat. Get your voice back, form opinions and speak them. You are allowed to be you. This is YOUR life, to be defined by no one but you.

Divorce Statistics

Compiled by Start Over Smart NY.