I am still in the early stages of my divorce experience, but I have already come to the sad conclusion that I am not that unique. I am not the embarrassing failure at relationships that I had convinced myself I was, nor the individual snowflake in the divorce world that some websites would have me believe. It’s not that new, or different, after all to get divorced after twenty or more years these days.
Sad, isn’t it? I warned you.
No, it’s not that different from many other couples. It doesn’t only happen in certain neighborhoods or with couples that you would usually expect it to. It’s happening in my town, on my street and with many of my friends, near and far, that I would never expect.
I used to joke, to my husband of all people, that “you can’t swing a cat in this town without hitting a divorced or divorcing couple” every time we shockingly heard about another family breaking apart. Looking back, I was so smug. So conceited, and honestly, secretly self-righteous.
“Why can’t people work it out?
Marriage is hard, suck it up.
Life with another person isn’t perfect, you have to roll with the bad to enjoy the good.”
So certain that we had it all figured out. So convinced that we were smarter and stronger than those that fell apart.
We had endured many challenges, many moves, and taken on many projects that would test any marriage along the way, and we had come out the other side still intact. I really thought we were a “forever couple” and we would beat the odds.
Coming from a family of divorce in the 70’s, when it was all pretty new and not quite normal, I was rooting for us. I wanted to feel that I had learned to communicate better than my parents, could work through our problems with a level head, and that I had married the right partner overall. I wanted to believe that if I tried hard enough, worked at being a good wife and loved with all of my might, I would be rewarded with happily growing old with the man that I had created a lifetime of memories and raised three children.
But that wasn’t the case, and looking at it now, I should have seen it coming for a long time. I should have realized it early on, truthfully. Maybe I did, I just wasn’t ready to accept the idea.
But we’re not supposed to look at the flaws or find the cracks in our relationship, are we? If you’re looking for a problem, you will find one. Better for you not to look too closely, not to question or compare, to save your belief system and get through another day, month or year.
Instead of doing the right thing for myself years ago, and most likely for my husband too, I did the acceptable thing for everyone else that I believed would suffer or be disappointed. My kids, of course. But there are so many other people that influence our decisions and actions, usually without us even knowing. Our families, his job, our friends. And the scary questions of how it will all play out, what will the future hold, how will I do this on my own?
And I know now that I am not the first, I sure as hell won’t be the last, and I’m not unique in any of this. I will cry, I will curse, I will blindly hate and I will feel blissfully satisfied at key points. Some days will be better than others, some a whole lot worse.
And I also know that I am not alone. I am not an outcast because I didn’t ride it out until the end. I am not a failure.
I am learning more about myself everyday, and I am making strides to regain the most important and special parts of myself along the way. I will not only get through this ugly, disappointing chapter of life, I will come out stronger and will finally love and accept who I am.