Monday, August 29, 2011

Moving on

Hi there.

It’s been a while, I know. When I look at the last post date I have another one of those 20/20 hindsight moments and think, well of course I stopped writing then, that’s probably around the time things started to really go downhill. Not that they were great before that…

By the time you all read this I’ll be divorced. In the grand scheme of things it’s probably not that big a deal. One of the things that’s struck me as I’ve gone through this and let people know is the number of friends who have already been through this but I had no idea. So that’s a positive to know that things do work out on the other side. But right now, from in the thick of things, it really sucks.

As divorces go, this one is pretty straightforward. There are no children, thank goodness. No property to speak of. Massive debts, but those are easily split depending on whose name they’re in. I’ve found a nice place, moved out, and am starting to develop new rhythms to my life. So what am I complaining about? Yeah, it sucks, but it could be so much worse…

Well, I think for starters it’s because this was not my choice. Jessica has always had difficulties, and those have been exacerbated recently by what we now know to be the onset of Huntington’s disease. But I was prepared to stick by her, to take care of her through to the end. Even though for years now she’s been saying that she wanted to leave, and complained about how the only reason she hasn’t is because she has no job and no money of her own.

So I stuck it out. She left last summer for two weeks, with no intention of coming back. Her mother talked her into returning, and she said we would work it out. Maybe I should have tried harder to find a way to get counseling sooner. Maybe I could have done more…

Or maybe the boat had already sailed.

In November she finally said that she had it, that she wanted a divorce, and this time she was sticking to it. I cried, I argued, I shouted, I tried to persuade… in retrospect I really shouldn’t have. I already knew she was cheating. I already knew she had been messing with guys online and even driving places to see other guys. I probably should have left after the first time I discovered this. But I felt I owed her. I had sworn to take care of her. So I stuck it out. After November she stopped trying to hide it. Guys would come by to pick her up and all I could say was “I don’t want to see any of them because I think I might punch them in the face.”

I thought I could still help her. I thought I could get us both to a place where she would still be okay even though we were apart. But as I started the process, found a lawyer, and eventually tried to find a place for myself I discovered that was impossible. Not only was it hard enough to take care of myself through all this, if we were going to be apart she would have to take responsibility for herself eventually. Even if I did everything for her right up to the moment of the divorce, what about afterwards? I was doing her no service by trying to fix everything, to make everything right. But damn it’s hard. I felt that I was betraying myself by not helping someone in need, but whenever I helped her I felt like I was betraying myself by giving in to someone who had treated me so badly.

So here we are. I have no idea what she’ll do. I have no idea how she’ll take care of herself. And that scares the crap out of me. But I have to let go. I have to move forward and take care of myself and trust that one way or another she’ll do the same.

Now that I’m on my own things are starting to get better. I’m starting to let myself relax. I’m starting to let myself do things I want to do and not feel guilty about it. I’m starting to feel like I’m allowed to be myself and be happy. But there’s still a long way to go.

Through all of this there is no way I could have made it without the help of so many friends. Perhaps the greatest bright spot in all of this is to know how many people care about me and want to see me well and happy. So many kindnesses stick out and hold me up through all of this. The friend who said early on that she had always wished I had a partner like she had with her husband, and that she didn’t think I ever had that. The friend who told me I deserved so much better and then chastised me when I said I had a hard time admitting that to myself. The countless friends who have gone to dinners and lunches, coffee and visits, and listened to the whole sorry story with compassion and love. Friends who have found ways to keep me busy, get me out, and reassure me that the best is yet to come. All of you help me to remain an optimist, and remember that this too shall pass.

It may be corny, but I think there’s a reason we always turn to music to get us through hard times. One song in particular has been my anthem through all of this, and has suddenly appeared at the times I needed a boost the most.

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want,
I will not hear what you have to say

‘Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be.