A friend of mine recently told me to think about the lessons I have learned from my failed marriage. He reminded me that every relationship teaches us something about ourselves, and he suggested I think on it, figure out what I could get out of that experience. Then my therapist suggested nearly the exact same thing, giving me a homework assignment to write a blog post about the lessons I’d gained and find the little pieces of gold I could pull from the rubble.
It’s not easy for me to look at the heaping failure that my marriage became and to really roll around in the mud to find any gems of goodness. Failure is difficult for me, admitting that I’m capable of it, being vulnerable enough to be okay with it. These are not emotions that I am usually keen to delve into. So, having to examine my marriage, one that I thought was wonderful until it suddenly became something messy and foreign, was a task that I wasn’t really looking forward to. Being that my week was pretty full, it was easy for me to push this task to the bottom of my To Do List, but I did allow some time to for these ideas to roll around in my mind. This is how I usually write my blog posts, letting the words form inside me before I ever put my fingers to the keyboard. The best ideas always come when I’m running, the quiet rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement and the elimination of any distractions allow my brain to focus. Mulling over this type of post, one that brings up feelings of anger, resentment and pain, is perfect for a long run. Those uncomfortable emotions drive me forward and keep me strong.
I am stronger than I knew.
When he asked me for a divorce, he asked me to give up everything I loved. Not only did he ask me to leave the marriage, one that made me feel safe and loved, he asked me to leave the home I’d dreamed of for decades. Just as we’d built our marriage to be something special and strong, we’d built this home together. We moved into this building and we made it more than just a structure to keep us warm and dry. It was something living, something that grew with us. And, I walked away from it.
I agreed to the divorce knowing I would lose my husband and my marriage would end, and in doing that I knew I was losing my Dom and my rope top as well. It felt like I stuffed my kinks into a plastic bag, all the fun secret parts of myself that I’d finally accepted after all these years of feeling weird and freaky, and tossed them into the garbage. In my grief, I didn’t see how it would be possible to find ways to express that part of myself again. How would I find another rope top, one that was safe and that I was attracted to, in this small town? Sure, I have friends that could tie me, but rope is so much more than that for me. My future in rope seemed lonely and quiet.
I walked away from everything that I loved and I didn’t look back. And, now that I’m here on the other side, I realize I don’t miss anything I left behind. I don’t miss my marriage, the facade of happiness masking real deep problems. I don’t miss my dream home, the beautiful but cumbersome brick that I’d tied to my ankle. I don’t miss kink with my ex. And, I definitely don’t miss my ex.
I thought I would struggle. I thought I would cry and mope and suffer, but I didn’t. I just kept moving forward, kept getting stronger, kept working on myself. I found strength in myself brought on by drastic change.
Alcohol is not my friend.
Alcohol has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom is a recovering alcoholic, and as I child, I went to AA meetings with her, I learned about the 12 steps, I know the Serenity Prayer by heart and always will, and I learned early on that all of this was something I had to hide from my friends. She relapsed when I was 19 and I saw my family fall apart. I felt shame and embarrassment like I’d never experienced in all my awkward adolescent years. I saw my younger sisters suffer as they witnessed our once perfect mom stumble home with black eyes. I don’t have the same issues with alcohol as my mother. I’m not an addict like she is, but in the years I was married, I found that I drank more than I was comfortable with. He is a drinker, a six-pack almost every day kind of drinker, and while I wouldn’t hold a candle to his level, I would drink with him on weekends. Sometimes those weekends would bleed into the weekdays, we’d pop open a beer as soon as we got home from work. We’d start drinking during the day on Saturday, as soon as we’d finished a hike or some rope practice, and by the evening I’d be falling asleep on the couch before we’d even had dinner.
I’d wake up the next morning with this horrible, anxious feeling. I called it Drinkers Remorse, and it weighed on me, made me feel worthless. I gained weight, I stopped being motivated, I didn’t exercise. He wouldn’t want to do anything the next day because he would be so hungover, so we would sit on the couch and watch movies even if the day was beautiful and beckoning us to come outside.
I am not this type of person. I have lots of energy to burn, lots of places I want to explore, things I want to get done. I didn’t see how much my life had changed because of this one bad habit. I’d never been much into TV, and now my life was very much centered around it. I’d never been one to waste a pretty afternoon, and now I wonder how many days I lost, how many moments I missed.
I’ve learned that I can’t be with someone who drinks like that. I can enjoy alcohol, and when I drink now, I don’t wake up with that sinking feeling of remorse.
I need to be needed.
I take care of people, sometimes to the point of overdoing it. They might feel overwhelmed by my attention. Sometimes I try to help and my help isn’t needed. It’s in my nature to be this way. I fetishize domestication, and I enjoy every aspect of it. I want to make my life and the lives of those around me comfortable and happy. And, I need the people in my life to appreciate and accept me for who I am. I need to have people who won’t take advantage of my ways. I also need someone to reciprocate.
I was a caregiver in my marriage, and I think it wore him down. He saw it as me trying to take control instead of accepting that I just wanted to help. It felt as though my hand was slapped away every time I reached out to give it to him. It hurt to be rejected like that, and I found myself holding back from who I really was. I understand that people want to be left alone sometimes, but I wasn’t getting the feedback I needed from him to understand his needs. I was expected to just know what he needed and adapt accordingly.
I have relationships, both past and current, that have shown me that it is possible to be a caregiver for someone who isn’t too keen on being taken care of. V is definitely not always comfortable with the amount of attention I give her, but she lets me know when she needs space, when I’ve stepped over the line and need to pull back. It’s been easy to find the balance that makes us both happy.
I need work.
I’m not perfect, although I certainly try very hard to get close to that level. I have a hard time admitting when I’m wrong and I can be pretty hard on myself. I want to be seen as good and right and okay. I don’t want the world to see me flounder. I don’t want my flaws to be visible. So, it’s hard for me to examine my failed marriage and see where I went wrong. It’s really easy to point out his part in our inevitable demise, his part was so tangible and obvious, but surely I am not innocent in all this. I was one half of the duo, and I had some responsibility.
I think delving into this will have to come in another post. I’m not yet ready to admit where I might have gone wrong, but I can say that I need work. I need to figure out ways to keep improving myself and how I interact with others. I need to look at my past to find out why I am the way I am, and what it says about me that I ended up in another toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. I also need to listen to that Serenity Prayer my mom finds so comforting, and I need to accept the things that I cannot change, both in myself and others.
I know there’s so much more I can glean from this massive failure, and those nuggets of wisdom will come to me as time passes. I am still in the process of picking up the pieces and sifting through the rubble. And, for now, I can accept that.