Sadness, anger, frustration, relief, pain, guilt, regret, fear, anxiety, happiness, elation...all these emotions and more are what one might expect to feel upon hearing a judge proclaim, "You are officially divorced". For me, in that moment, I only felt peace.
For me, the rollercoaster occurred every day leading up to that moment of final release. I just didn't know it.
I have mentioned many times before, our union was a tumultuous one. Upon his exit, and having spoken to so many others who were in similar circumstances, I realized I had been married to a Narcissist. He could never be wrong. Everything that ever went wrong was someone else's fault...usually mine. Our biggest battles always took place after I had dared to disagree with him. I was never good enough for him, and he took every opportunity to remind me of it. If he couldn't find something, it was always because I had lost it. He was completely without fault. As trying as many of our challenges had been over the years, I never realized how bad it was until he was gone and I was able to breathe comfortably, for the first time IN YEARS!!
There have been lots of changes in my life since the day I came home from work to find all his things gone. Financially, the kids and I struggle. A lot. But it is a small price to pay for freedom from oppression. Every other challenge we face is a blessing in comparison to the toxic environment in which we were previously living. After being married almost 15 years, and together for more than 22 years, it took 19 months for me to get my shit together and finally be free.
This whole process has been daunting. I proceeded through it all without an attorney, (but with some advice from some friends in the field😘😘😘), and I was scared. I was scared I would be screwed over by a lack of understanding of some of the language in the legal documents. I was scared of what would come next. I was scared the law might not protect me. But I WAS NOT scared of being unable to survive it.
I have spoken endlessly over the past few years of the events that led to our inevitable split. I have no intention of revisiting that nastiness. Now that it's all over, I want to talk about the exhiliration of this new rollercoaster of freedom.
Coincidentally, my oldest son was visiting on the day my divorce became final. This was a rather fitting circumstance because there is no one on this earth who was happier to see that marriage end than my son. He was the textbook stepchild. My ex, while he made some early attempts to connect with my boy, ultimately decided after some early childhood difficulties, that my son was not worthy of continued engagement. He wasn't outwardly MEAN to him...instead, he treated him like he was invisible. Like he was an irritation. And by the time we were married, and having our children together, I only wanted to keep peace in the house, so I shushed my son. He WAS a difficult child. But he was living in difficult circumstances. I just didn't realize it. Once my Spartacus was diagnosed with autism, the ex developed a seething hatred for my oldest because, in his mind, "Why did it have to be HIS child?" I did everything I could to keep the oldest from confrontations with the ex, while trying desperately to give him enough love to help him through it. Ultimately, many of my choices did more to hurt my son than to help him, and the constant battles and overall hateful environment led to my son's early exit from our home. We have had our discussions about all of it, and I have done all I could to make amends. Today, we are exceptionally close. And the day the divorce was finished, we celebrated. Big time. But carefully...
While my heart was celebrating the end of a painful situation, I had to be careful not to be TOO outwardly elated because my daughter was watching. I had to keep in mind, this man who had been the source of so much pain for me, is still her dad. It's amazing how we don't realize the level of self control that's required to keep certain emotions from bursting through any efforts to restrain them until we are forced to watch the reactions of our children. So while my son and I were doing mental cartwheels, I was outwardly cautious of showing too much joy upon the final end of the union that gifted me with my two youngest children. My Spartacus has no way of telling me how he feels about it all. I only know, since the ex has been gone, this boy has been calmer, happier, and laughs all the time. It could be that his adolescent hormones are leveling off, and he is naturally calming down, but our calmer living environment has had a positive impact on him, so it's just all good. The girl, however, is struggling.
She tries to be strong. She tries to hide her pain. Very much like her mother, she chooses anger over sadness. Anger is easier to manage. But sooner or later, the pain has to be addressed. She is making some bad choices, (none that are currently life altering, but enough to have commanded my full attention), and I am completely focused on helping her to face the source of her emotions so she can perhaps mend the relationship with her dad. I don't know if it will be possible, because in order to forgive someone for the pain they caused you, it is usually easier when they have actually admitted to causing that pain. In this case, instead of saying, "I'm sorry I had to leave you. The marriage was no good, and it was better for all of us that I leave.", he chooses to tell her, "Your mother did this, and she didn't do that, and guess what else she did..it was all her fault. She's a filthy slut."
Yes. The filthy slut who hasn't been with ANY man in 5 years. And that INCLUDES the last three years his sorry ass was living here.
But I digress...
This week, I was blessed to be surrounded by family, and a great support system. Luckily, I was able to mourn the loss of my marriage LONG AGO. I went through the worst and most painful dips and turns of the rollercoaster while the ex was still living here, and I had to face the truth...he never really loved me at all. It was a hard truth. But in the end, I know I gave this marriage all I had. Even through the pain of knowing what he had done, I tried to convince myself I could be wrong, just to make sure I wasn't giving up on a chance to keep my family together. To keep my vows. I wasn't wrong. After mourning the loss of my "happily ever after", and accepting the reality of his broken promises, I have found myself again. The timing of this milestone is fortuitous. It happened at a time when I had a long list of reasons to celebrate. Big birthdays for my parents, visits from relatives I love dearly and don't get to see nearly enough, my oldest and his hubby coming to visit...it has all uplifted me at a time I might have been overwhelmed by the end of what I had once believed with all my heart to be my forever. But all those reasons for celebrating, and all those people who love me have made this transition from "married" to "single" a smooth and happy one.
Oh, and my own strength and natural badassery have been an asset😎
In the end, it all comes down to something I remind myself of EVERY DAY. It is nobody else's job to make me happy. If I am waiting for someone else to provide me with the conditions that will make me happy, I am a fool. I am the ONLY one with the power to make me happy. It isn't about having the THINGS I want. It isn't about having a perfect relationship. (What IS that, anyway?!!) It's about knowing and accepting that not everything in my life will go my way, but I can CHOOSE to be happy in the midst of good circumstances, or IN SPITE OF bad circumstances. I get to choose. It is in making the choice to be happy that I remove anyone else's power to take it away.
And now that this rollercoaster has climbed all the way to the top of the tracks, all that's left is for me to throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride.