When I filed for divorce, I felt as if there was no other way. Marriage suicide—in my mind—was the last resort and the only option available… for ME to be in control again. In some cases, that’s the most healthy thing to do, but in most cases it’s just the most selfish thing to do.
When he’s the one with the addiction, it’s so much easier to focus on his faults and problems and lack of commitment to me and our marriage and our family. It’s the most visible and the most tangible of our issues, after all. Everybody saw that he was the problem—with my help, of course. He was the reason we had financial troubles and lacked stability. He was out more than he was home. His heart was consumed with the next win. He was doing this to me. He abandoned ME.
However, when he was present he was full of energy, life and passion—the very things I fell in love with at a very young age—and our children adored him and all of his joy to the nth degree. But seeing this joy and love only reminded me of all the times he was absent dealing with his misery. I felt trapped having no escape and no way to shake off frustrations or act out as he did. (I thought about sitting in a bar and getting drunk or going on some erratic trip but my body and mind wouldn’t even allow me to, there was physically nothing I could do; Well so it felt and I hated him for having the ability to ‘run.’)
When he was home having fun and the kids were laughing all over him, more times than not I would be the one to turn the setting into what would most always result in disaster. That inner conflict of all the times he wasn’t home when he should’ve been would eat at me and quickly erase any smiles I might have considered smiling or sharing with he and the kids. The conflict always won and made itself known via words like, “You’re doing it wrong. Don’t swing him like that. What is wrong with you?” And, always in front of the kids. And, always ended like this, “I hate you! You make me sick! Don’t touch me! Get away from me! I’m done!”
In a way I felt strong for telling him how he made me feel. But did I really? Did I really say anything? When I looked in the mirror, I felt stupid. He’s abandoning you and hurting you and you just let him.
It was so much easier to believe that I was the martyr, working and taking care of the babies. But the old saying, “It takes two to tango,” couldn’t be more correct.
So many thoughts go along with the decision and the act of divorce—that we make ourselves believe. We believe that getting a divorce will solve everything—all these unresolved problems and chaos and lack of love will just go away and I won’t have to deal with them anymore. I’ll remove the problem from my life. And, perhaps it will hurt him as much as he’s hurt me. How does he not know how much he’s hurt me? It won’t be easy but neither is living with someone that treats me like this. I’m choosing the lesser of two evils.
But then you’re left with yourself. And if you’re smart, you’ll start to look in the mirror. You’ll see that the problems don’t go away. You still argue and disagree with your ex. Nothing’s changed, in fact it’s probably a bit worse. He’s not where he should be. He thinks you’ve robbed him of money and his life. You feel used and unlovable. He feels even more rage than he had while you were nagging him.
And, then it dawns on you. I have problems too… I am critical. I am cynical. I have to be right. I have self-esteem issues and never really loved myself. I blamed him for not loving me the way I wanted him to—the way he should. I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I was disrespectful to him. I have a horrible temper and created too many unnecessary scenes in front of our children. I need to control everything. I don’t like surprises—even the ones he tried to make happen on my birthday or anniversary. I belittled him and his history. I am jealous. I am stubborn and unforgiving. I worry all the time. I compared him to others (this is HUGE). I hit him. I screamed at him. I gave him even more reason to feel inadequate. I tried to help him, but under my conditions. I was always caught up in what he was doing to me. I knew how to push and pull just like he did. We could dance very well, after all.
While it is so very easy to blame the ex, healing and forgiveness can not happen without acknowledging and understanding that we too bring just as many problems in to the relationship. There isn’t a winner and a loser. You become one—united—in marriage and therefore, his problems are your problems and your problems are his problems. You can either win together or lose together. There’s no separating the two. Sure you can try to rip things down the middle all you want, but there will always be those jagged edges that don’t ever seem to fully match up with anything or anyone else. Most likely, those very things that pushed you apart in the first place were the very things you need to learn and understand about yourself. Aren’t these differences a means for balance between our weaknesses and strengths? Of course they are. You met and fell in love with this person for this very reason.
Whatever that ‘thing’ is that caused you to divorce, it needs you… both of you.
Acknowledge the problems together. Fix the problems together. Overcome and recover together. Forgive together. Love together.
For more read It Doesn’t Have to be that Way by Amy Jo HawkinsPhoto courtesy of Tango Libre