Ok so several people have suggested that I write something resembling an advice piece, based on my recent (not to mention traumatic) experiences; however, my intent was to save it all until my own trial was over. Unfortunately it has come to my attention that there are more than a few beautiful women out there who either live in their own toxic world or were recently slammed into a new reality by their partner. And so – I’ve been feeling like I really want to help other women out there in similar circumstances and I just don’t know how. And then it just occurred to me that I could start with my blog. *A brief comment to the guys: I’m sorry to exclude you but I can really only speak for my own gender in this specific case.
So what makes me think I know anything? I don’t. But, I was married for 13 years. It started out okay – I mean, we were in love and he said all the right things and he was really sincere and heartfelt and sensitive and a little silly like me (though as the years went by it became more and more clear that he just didn’t appreciate my silliness – or anything else, for that matter). It didn’t take long before the real people we were, went to war against the two people we thought we were. There were multiple disagreements about anything and everything. We fought about everything: money, my work in the family business, my friendliness to customers on the job, my mother, my father, birthday parties for the kids, spending, vacations, my returning to work in the restaurant business, me wanting time to myself, or wanting to go to mom’s night out with friends, sex, my journals, my attitude, my mistakes, past arguments and incidents. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I wasn’t allowed to keep sentimental things associated with past relationships (like photos, letters). I wasn’t allowed to write negative things about him in my journal. There were short periods surrounding the births of each of our children that were mostly peaceful. I wanted us to try counseling so many times, but apparently the idea of actually living in a healthy relationship just wasn’t as appealing. Then came Ava’s diagnosis. The shock and subsequent period of adjusting to “the new normal” was like living on the edge of an active volcano – the subtle rumblings of disaster always underfoot, the constant threat of eruptions left me feeling like I was walking on eggshells all the time.
Fast forward to Spring 2010. The disillusionment I felt over my miserable life came to a head as my daughter finished preschool. A year earlier I had turned 40, and really wanted to have a party with our family and my friends to celebrate. He didn’t want to. He thought my idea to commemorate my milestone with a tattoo was a bad idea too. Well, I picked the lesser – and less painful – of the two evils. I fixed myself a pitcher of margaritas and threw myself a party. My ex-husband, in his usual style, bitched and complained right up until everyone arrived and then suddenly turned on the charm and had himself a “decent” time, though he still didn’t lift a finger to test Ava’s blood sugar or look after her for this one afternoon. This was the Jekyll/Hyde MO: act miserable every single God-forsaken holiday and birthday, bitch and moan about the interruption to his isolation until I reached my boiling point and my moody twin popped out…. and then he’d relax and look at me with wild eyes and ask me, “why are you acting like this? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to have a nice day?” Anyway…. It was that year that the revelation hit me hard that I had reached the halfway point in my life… and I couldn’t wrap my brain around how I would survive another 40 years of this shit. I’m sorry – I love a good time, I love being around my friends and family, I love being social and – for the love of God - I love to laugh. None of these things was easy in the life I was living, without fighting for it. Who needs to fight for joy? It’s a choice, not a war.
And then came my daughter’s best friend at preschool – a beautiful, happy little girl who took her by the hand from the very first day and became inseparable. And her parents. These two people reflected light from each other that was enviable and, for me, unforgettable. They didn’t know how they inspired me to either get what I wanted from my marriage (which I already knew wasn’t going to happen) or get out. I wanted to have that kind of love and respect from a soulmate. And then came Facebook. Which, by the way, is quoted countless times in divorce cases across the country. Well, I didn’t end my marriage because of one man on Facebook. All the re-connections I made, with the men and women I have known throughout my life, forced me to face the cold reality that my life was definitely NOT what I wanted it to be. Several people seemed to have really great lives, great loves and family. It inspired me to reach for more, to stop settling for less than what I deserved, less than what my children deserved.
Yeah, yeah. Things aren’t always what they seem. And that is exactly why so many people I know are suddenly coming forward to leak their own little secrets about just how “perfect” their marriage isn’t. I am perpetually amazed by how my going public with my drama has driven others to admit – ya know – that they’re not really very happy either.
So what makes me think I have anything to offer? Well, for one – I made a life-changing decision for not only myself, but my children too, about 18 months ago. I have now been engrossed in a nasty fight for custody of them for over 9 months, which will be coming to an end in just 5 days. I have been hurt, I have been angry, I have been broken, I have been shocked, I have been weak, I have been strong, I have been scared to death. It has without a doubt been the absolute worst thing I have ever had to endure in my life. But it has been worth every bankrupt second of this terrible ride, because NOT fighting was not an option. He wanted me to give up. He thought he could break me, but he was dead wrong. No one and no man ever comes between a mother and her children. I didn’t do everything right, I didn’t do anything wrong. But I learned a lot about what I didn’t know – about the law, about divorce, custody and the real purpose of psychological evaluations. And so – I am no expert – but I have experience. And that is what I intend to share. Because you’re not alone.
Next up: It's Over. Now What?