When Divorce is at your door


An ongoing series in my journey of separation

He came to me three weeks ago. He said it was over. There was nothing to be done. That I had so irreparably damaged our relationship, and basically, him, that there would never be an opportunity to mend that hole. Never would he open a small sliver of trust my way ever again, lest I worm my way in and slice what little was left of his heart.

If you think this story starts three weeks ago, think again. Let’s go back 14 years — to the day we met, though in all reality, any story begins much before that, as we all have years of training and molding and general my-parents-fucked-me-up origin stories. I won’t get into that. It will all come out again anyway.

So we met. Yeah. He was playing the piano; I was going to Prom. It was my parents’ living room. It was a brief hello . . . I had my mind on my date, and he quickly judged me and moved on. It was nothing special. There were no immediate sparks and swelling of music. We were young and had a whole world of experience ahead of us.

He lived with us that summer; he and a couple other guys who were friends with my brother. And slowly, we developed from not caring, to challenging one another, to a mutual appreciation of the other’s mind and talents, and even bodies, though we never spoke of it. He was a guarded young man, who wanted to save me from my origin story of being put down, forgotten, and told in so many words, “You suck.” I was, as you can imagine, a hopeful young girl with an amazing lack of self-love, looking for it in his arms.

So we dated. We married. We had a kid right away. We weren’t even out of college. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing. And we had no one to guide us. Within the first year of our marriage, both our parents got divorced — not that we ever thought they were symbols of great marital bliss, but this certainly wasn’t the time to be asking for help from them. So we stumbled. A lot. I was desperate for someone to keep paying attention to me, and any absence took me back to the many times I stood outside the school in the snow, waiting for my parents to remember me; embarrassingly asking the janitor if I could just call my parents one more time. Maybe they’d answer. Maybe he’d want to be with me more than they did.

And he did. But not always. That’s not how healthy relationships work. So he would hang out with friends, and I would get bitter, which would lead to me saying horrible things to him out of my pain, instead of being vulnerable and sharing my hurt. And he, instead of telling me my words tore him down, would silently take it.

Add a few more kids. Add a few moves. Throw in a start-up company for my amazing, highly charismatic husband, and he had finally found his place. He found what fulfilled him, and tried to take me along, sort of. We bounced between trying really hard and just silently resenting one another. Sometimes the resentment came out in words or passive-aggressive behaviors. Sometimes we had fun together. We laughed, we loved. But we never unearthed the deeper river of problems slowly eroding our marriage.

He traveled more and more. Kids got older and more needy. And he realized he wasn’t happy. Hadn’t been for a while. Now, I can’t speak for him, and I certainly won’t try, but anyone running a company can tell you that the joys of success also come with a lot of stress. Same thing goes for parenthood. We grew into a pit of stress just bubbling under the surface waiting to explode.

And it did. In the most terrible, soul-crushing, heart-ripping way for me. He shut off the emotions that let us share love through the hard times, and he made a calculated this-is-the-business-of-marriage decision, and cut me out. Just like that.

So you see: divorce is at my door. I have been told there is no world where I am to be trusted again. That he must preserve himself and get away from my damage. But, my dear, it takes two to tango. And I don’t believe this story is over. I don’t know how it will end, which is incredibly frightening. But I know there are many on a similar journey, and I’m inviting you in to mine. I cannot share his side, more than what is shown and told to me on the surface, but I will bare my flaws, joys, and hopes through this journey, and you are welcome to place your bets on which side wins.

You see, I love him. I love him. With his dagger twisting in my chest, I love him. Not because I’m broken and need him. Because I have hit my rock bottom and seen the Truth. We are both flawed — as all of us are. And the greatest hope is choosing love in the darkest times.