Hall pass? Where’s mine?

So we have agreed to get divorced. It was a very civil conversation, very calm and cool and level-headed. We talked it through and agreed that this made the most sense. That’s just the type of couple we are, and I guess, will always be in some ways. We both tend to look at things objectively most of the time and plan accordingly. That’s just what we do. Maybe that was the first crack in our marriage? I always thought it was what held us together, but maybe I was wrong.

Now that we are getting divorced, and are stepping into new territory, I don’t think either of us knows how to plan for this next milestone (it is a milestone, isn’t it? It seems it’s almost a coming of age thing these days, especially after twenty years of marriage) We also don’t know what the “rules” are for this relationship. Deep down, we are both rule followers. Rule followers with attitude, to be honest.

While it is all still new, we are figuring it out and stepping lightly. Or at least I am. We may not be screaming at each other, or arguing over who gets what at this point, but we are trying to be civil and cooperative. I sometimes get the feeling that I should be more angry. More demanding. More something. Instead I just feel numb to it all, lost and confused.

Today though, I can feel the tide changing. I can feel the boiling in my stomach and the prickly sensation of self-defense begin to take hold of me. I am slowly realizing that his world hasn’t changed much so far. He still goes to his job, travels around on his own schedule, comes and goes as he pleases when he is in our home on the weekends. I thought that it would be okay, that it would be almost normal compared to our married life as it was near the end, but I was wrong. It’s not the same. Not by a long shot.

He’s become a roommate, and not the best one in my opinion. Sure, he does his own laundry and takes care of his own meals, but he also dumps any laundry from the dryer on top of the machine when he needs to use it and only feeds himself, without considering asking his sons if they’d like to join him for lunch.  He has untied his ties to his children and become some guy who shows up on weekends, and maybe texts them once a week to ask an ambiguous question (“how are things?”) He floats in and out, untethered to our real life and basically living as a boarder without any expectations. His calendar and appointments are his to manage without considering how it affects anyone else. He comes and goes as he pleases without any explanation or permission. He still attends family celebrations to be part of the “big stuff”, but in essence, he is free.

I am still living our life though. Taking care of an oversized house that he wanted, raising the children that we chose to have together, dealing with real life issues of our family alone. He has the “hall pass” of all time: freedom to do what he wants, when he wants, where he wants, and with whomever he chooses if he decides to. Where’s mine?

For a brief period of time, I second guessed our decision to get divorced. Maybe we could work it out, or struggle through this rough period? It’s probably just a midlife crisis, right?It wouldn’t be the first time that we had to plow through to get to the other side. We’ve been married for twenty years, and together for close to twenty-five, there have been times that it got almost too hard to stay together…many times.

Today I had the epiphany that no, it’s not enough and it’s not worth my future self-esteem or sanity to try to fix this or save it or muddle through it all. I deserve better, even if better may be hard and draining. Even if better makes me worse in the beginning, I know that it will get better and I will live through it and come out the other side with relief and trust in myself. I will be stronger.

I need to cut the cord on this relationship to move forward. I don’t need a hall pass, or permission to take control of this weird journey that we’ve begun. It’s time that I take charge of my life, stand up for myself and set boundaries. It’s time that I stop letting someone else call the shots or direct me. That time is now.

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