It all comes in waves. Sometimes quiet ripples, barely noticeable, the sun still shining even if there may be a cloud or two. Other times, it comes crashing over you, knocking you off of your feet in surprise, leaving you gasping for air while the water consumes you. The sun is nowhere to be seen because you can’t even keep your head above the water to see it.
That’s post-divorce. The early days. At least, I hope it’s only in the early days.
The beginning of this was more than difficult, it was numbing and exhausting. I felt heavy and tired all of the time, my mind constantly foggy and distant. I missed things, forgot people and places, appointments slipped by me. In the middle of it all, it felt as if this process would last forever, and we would be eternally entwined. No escape, a never-ending battle, tied to each other against our will. Tangled. The water was deep, thick and slow moving. I was swimming fully clothed, seaweed grabbing around my ankles, struggling to keep my head above water, as it was pulling me under each day.
During this time, I apologized a lot. To everyone. I cried even more.
Then, it was almost over, the finish line in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel finally growing brighter. Life was moving forward again. I could remember names, faces, appointments once more. I was making plans, looking forward, making a new life plan. Excited almost, feeling positive that it would all be worth the stress and agony in the end. The water was growing warmer, the waves were rippling around me but not threatening to pull me out past the breakers. I could tread water more easily, only tiring sometimes. But I felt confident that I could, and would, make it back to shore to plant my feet firmly on the ground.
During this time, I bought a house and began to plan to move and start fresh, and happy. I believed that we could get along and work towards having a mutually respectful relationship. I still didn’t like him, but I didn’t hate him either. I wanted to believe that I was over the hurt enough, that I was a grown up and could behave like one. What purpose does it serve to stay hurt and angry?
I’m a realist, level headed, at least that’s what I believed.
Now it’s over, at least the negotiations and battle to divide our marital assets is over. But it’s not completely over. No, a new wave has come crashing down around me, around us, this time sucking my children out to sea along with it. I am trying so hard to hold onto them, to convince them that I can keep them safe, but the wave is too big and too forceful. It has no conscience, it cares for no one. Why? Because there are new waves to make the big wave stronger and more powerful. Waves that give it more force, more momentum, pushing it towards us. Supporting it in the background.
I was almost out of our shared home, only a few weeks away from escape and removed from the drama that has been my life (our life) for over a year, when I heard that there was someone else. Not from him at first, no he’s not that honest or forthcoming with me, or himself. No, I had to hear it further down the line. The six degrees of separation, a friend of a friend of a friend. Our world is much too small.
It’s someone he worked with, but he doesn’t work with her any longer (does that help?) No, he didn’t start this while we were married, only after we were truly separated. And I’m supposed to believe him, now after all of the ugly things he said about me and did to me and our kids during our divorce. Over a year of ugliness and disconnect. And yes, that’s what he’s been putting his energy into for the last year, finding a replacement. Filling the vacancy. All at the cost of his children. That’s why he’s only had six hours a weekend to give of himself to them, he had to “move on with his life”.
He’s not a cheater, at least not in his mind. That’s not the image he’s willing to live with, to have people associate him with, he’s a standup guy. He’s a hard working, family man. And maybe it didn’t truly “begin” during our marriage, maybe he didn’t sleep with her until we were officially separated, but why should I believe him now? Was she the distant shore that he felt pulled to enough to give up his family? Sunny, light, full of fun – a vacation from his real life and his real problems, someone who only sees the relaxed, good side of him that only comes out on a vacation. Someone who gets the “fun guy” while the rest of us get the “real guy”, the one screaming red faced and stomping around our house. Was he always reading the brochures, dreaming about his perfect life with someone else, for months?
Is he lying to me or to himself? Does he even know what the truth is, will he allow himself to see it? I’m guessing he won’t.
There is no boat in sight, the shore is too far, there is no escape. He has left us adrift. No life jackets. We must tread water the best we can, and hold onto each other, until we are strong enough to swim to safety. Some days, I don’t know if we are strong enough, if I am strong enough to protect them. Some days it takes all of the strength I have just to tread water and keep breathing, waiting for the next wave to hit.