Divorce on television is nothing like divorce in real life. At least, not in my case. I did what I could to be civil. I tried to come to an agreement before filing. I tried to talk it out. When that didn’t work, I filed without help. I wrote out a parenting plan I thought would be fair. I tried to make it as easy as possible. Then when that nice-ness wasn’t being returned, I sunk to the petty level and returned the mean-spirited behavior. I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, I can accept I could have handled things better.
One day, I woke up and realized, this wasn’t what I wanted for my life. I didn’t want to be in a marriage that was 75% mental abuse and arguments, 15% stress, and only 10% happiness. I don’t want any of my children to believe that’s what love looks like. The moment I heard “why is Daddy so mean to you” and “why is Daddy always mad at me,” I was done. When I heard, “why do you and Daddy fight so much,” I knew that I was sending the wrong message to my girls.
Marriage isn’t fighting and lack of trust. Love isn’t constantly bickering over dirty dishes and clothes on the floor. And it definitely isn’t name calling and venomous words.
I take partial responsibility for my failed marriage. I did what I could to make it work for a long time. I let go of a lot of misplaced anger. I let go of small issues that were in the past. Unfortunately, it seemed like new problems kept coming to light. I wanted to make it to 50 years. I wanted to get old and gray and have two rocking chairs on a wrap around porch. I wanted the “white picket fence” life.
Sadly, it seemed like the more energy I put into it, I felt like I wasn’t getting that back. That hurt. I wasn’t being heard. What I wanted didn’t seem to matter. I wasn’t given a choice on where we lived – a story for another time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Oregon. It’s beautiful. But it was an ultimatum that got me here. I lost that spark within myself. I also lost sight of that spark between us.
I was prepared to end my marriage.
I was not prepare to lose my best friend.
I spent 4 years getting to know a person. I spent 4 years learning what made him tick, what made him smile, what he struggled with, what he excelled in… He introduced me to two of my favorite movies. I introduced him to the cult known as Gilmore Girls. I showed him Criminal Minds and NCIS and got him hooked. We shared a love for books, just different genres.
Four years of ups. Four years of downs. Four years of “no, you pick dinner” until we both got excessively hangry. We stayed up to late, talked about the world, dreamt of a better future. We made jokes, we laughed until we cried, we shared our secrets.
Deciding to change a toxic situation cost me someone I called my best friend.
One day I hope to look back, knowing I really did try, and smile. I don’t regret my decisions that got me to this place. I have no ill will or anger. Now, it’s time to focus on me and find the pieces of me that I lost along the way. It’s time to focus on my children and make sure they’re happy, healthy, and make sure they know they are very much loved.