I read an article on Huffington Post recently, How I Am 5 Years After Divorce. I don't really have a lot in common with a single-mother, but I felt a little less like a pariah knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks about her marriage a few years out. For me, it has been three years. Mostly, the divorce is something that happened. My ex-husband, a stranger; rarely does anyone know I was even married, with my heavy bangs I appear at least a few years younger than I am. Revisionist history abated as well.
For years, I have felt displaced, a visitor, a wanderer, apartment dweller. When it looked like my old home went on the market briefly by its new owners, I indulged in a fantasy for a moment. What if, I wondered, I could buy the house? The mortgage would only be a few hundred dollars more than the apartment I rent. More importantly, I could go home. But then I realized I couldn’t ever go home. That is not my home. You can't put toothpaste back into a tube.
Lately, I just want to slip out of my skin. Lie naked in an empty room. I just want to get to the bottom of it. I have often wondered what if, for 30-plus years, I made decisions based on what was best for me and made my heart content, rather to the whims of everyone else? That instead of feeling torn between winning my parents' affection back and pursuing my own interests or settling for a mediocre husband who could have cared less about my whimsy, I set out to do as I pleased? Not with abandon, but with thoughtful articulation and execution of valuing myself.
I didn't really settle this score (I mean, who actually settles adolescent battles) before my partner ended up in the thick of job recruitment. Suddenly, I could end up anywhere, and each place would have a different impact on my future. One of the options really was in the middle of nowhere -- there was absolutely nothing to do but take up surfing for a hobby-- and my head nearly exploded when he told me we would "figure it out". As in, without limits, I could craft my own future and research, no questions, no worries. I have absolutely no idea how to do that.
Before I had a chance to put that to bed, it occurred to me that I was potentially giving up a lot (children, traditional career, etc.) for someone who frankly hasn't even asked. We talk about the future constantly. I am included in plans and decisions as an equal partner. He has taken actions to ensure my safety and comfort. But there is no proposal and I am getting tired of waiting for a future when I am sitting in a now.
So I have a lot to talk to my therapist about this week. But the biggest elephant in this feeling room is the overwhelming urge to free-fall. I just want to know what it is like. I want to know what I am really capable of doing. A week or so ago, he asked me my opinion on a work-related problem, and he became agitated with my analysis. "It's because you're right," he said. "But I'm irritated because you are so smart with everything except yourself." What he meant coincides with an observation I made when a few people talked about the hard work they put in when they were in college. College was never difficult for me. I never felt challenged. Neither did graduate school or doctoral coursework. I never applied myself. Without studying, I easily maintained a B average; with application, I make straight “A’s”. But dissertations are not measured in grades but with progress, quality, and completion. I am not done yet. Divorce got in the way. Moving got in the way. Finances got in the way. Working got in the way.
For once, I want to get out of my own way. I remember what it feels like to be alive and happy, but simply too serious and cautious now to feel loose with abandon. Accidents may happen (or so croons Elvis Costello). This brings me to the issue of forgiveness. I have long asserted forgiveness is overrated. I don't owe my ex anything. Bitter is the new black. But while I am on a different life trajectory because of him, which was not particularly welcome, I frankly do not hold him responsible anymore. Forgiveness is not turning a kind eye away from another's misdeeds but rather letting them off of whatever proverbial hook you dangle them.
I've been sitting hear for a while. Fish off the hook, back in the water, but he still swims around my feet. Perhaps I haven't let myself off of the hook. That thundered loudly today when I found out something about his wife. You know, the woman who was the third-party interloper in my marriage. I blocked both of them from social media to limit information about me but also my exposure to them, mostly because no good can come of it. But I do see other things he leaves out there from time to time. A psychologist friend of mine thinks it is deliberate, intended for me to see.
They take adventurous vacations throughout the year, many plucked from my bucket list (not that I am surprised). From what little I know of her, I know I am nothing like her. I am cerebral, introverted, studied several languages, danced for several years, enjoyed horseback riding lessons, will not swim underwater. But I was vivacious when we married, loved motorcycles and sex, climbing trees and zip lining through rainforests. It was good enough at the time and nobody fucks their affair partner because they are certified to toddle around the ocean floor with an oxygen tank.
As I found my self thinking about all of this and them, I decided, that's it. It just happened. I really need to let it go. Give myself permission. It had nothing to do with me. Let myself off the hook. I'm not going to jump out of a goddamn airplane to look exciting to someone who isn't impressed. The fact of the matter is that while they are enjoying tandem jumps, I would not want that man anywhere near my parachute. I get chills up my neck thinking about it. I would not trust him with an animal cracker.
My partner keeps a photo of him in his foyer. He is high in the sky, positioned like he doing jumping jacks. It is unclear if he is grimacing or grinning. It is a photograph of him learning how to solo parachute. Failure to execute the task perfectly could have resulted in failure to complete his program at the military academy. That takes integrity. As for me, I am going to free-fall. All I have is me.
(originally posted by a member of FWW.)