One year ago today I did one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life- I separated from my husband of 16 years. I remember how I felt, the thoughts (about a million of them) racing through my head, the way my heart was pounding with fear as I told him he had to leave. I had no idea how he would react, and I was scared he might get violent. Luckily (for me, anyway) I caught him totally off guard and really didn't give him time to think or get angry. Heck, I even packed his stuff up and loaded it in the truck for him! But then again, that was pretty much how our marriage went: I did ALL the work while he sat around and complained and made my life miserable. It had gotten to the point where I just couldn't stand being miserable every day anymore. Given any choice at all I'm actually a very happy, upbeat, positive person, exactly the opposite of my now ex-husband. Living with him was so incredibly depressing, it's a wonder I found any reason to smile at all during most of those years.
The life I'm living now is such a huge contrast to those bleak years it's difficult to know how I managed to keep going. I'd been thinking about divorce for years before I finally made up my mind. I tried talking to him about our problems, but it was like talking to a wall- he didn't hear a thing I was saying, and he was just so angry all the time I never wanted to push it. So I kept trying to make it work. But when there's only one person putting any effort into a relationship it's doomed to fail- it has to be a partnership with both people working together and communicating openly with each other.
I think back to this day last year and still don't know where I found the courage to say the words that needed to be said and do the things that needed to be done. I was terrified, but I knew I had to appear strong and stay calm (at least outwardly). Once he was gone I lived in fear that he'd come back and do something to me or the house. I had a week until my plane left for Arizona, so I knew I just had to make it through that time and I'd be safe (from him anyway- I was also scared of flying across the country!). And while I was dealing with the separation I was also preparing the house (Gramma's house) for sale and trying to get it completely cleaned out before I left so my uncle, who would be taking care of the place until it sold, wouldn't have to do it himself. I did more heavy lifting and hauled more garbage out of that place than I care to remember. I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping, I was stressed beyond belief, and I was pushing my body to it's physical, mental, and emotional limits. It's a wonder I didn't have a nervous breakdown, but I guess I'm made of tougher stuff than I realized, because I did come through it all in one piece, mentally and physically.
This is the first time I'm talking about some of this. Maybe I needed a year to be sure I really was OK. Maybe I needed enough positive new experiences to dull the sharp edges of those painful experiences and make them a little easier to deal with. I've always felt more comfortable writing about my feelings rather than talking about them, so blogging is sort of a natural outlet for me. And maybe this will help someone else in a similar situation find their own courage to change their life for the better. It comes down to something very simple really: I deserve to be happy. I don't believe I (or anyone else) was put on this Earth to live in misery.
And I've found that happiness, within myself, my surroundings, and the man that I wouldn't have ever met if I hadn't taken that risk and leaped into the unknown. When Sal asks "How ya doin' today, babe?" I can honestly answer "I'm doing great!" Sal is completely opposite from my ex, and he's exactly who I need as a partner, friend, and lover. He's positive, hard working, spiritual, thoughtful, funny, creative, kind, and spontaneous. Love is a wonderful thing, and I don't know how I managed to live without it for so long.
Just one year, but it feels like an entire lifetime has passed. I don't wish anything bad on my ex, I'm not a vindictive kind of person- I hope he's able to find some sort of happiness in his own life. I haven't talked to him (aside from a long email trying to explain exactly why I was divorcing him- I still don't know if he understands) since he left. I think that's for the best though. I said everything I needed to say in the email, and he's got it in writing in case he wants to go back and remind himself where things went wrong.
I'm finally comfortable with who I am, and where I am in life. I am so much more relaxed now, and I guess that shows. People who knew me before the divorce have commented on how different (in a good way) I seem now. I'm not afraid to speak my mind or give an opinion, or just simply be myself. I no longer worry about being judged (he was constantly judging not only me, but everyone else around us). I am who I am- unique, creative, artsy, and just little bit nuts (but in a good way, I think). I'm that crazy chic who says "Pardon me" to bees as I'm watering and has conversations with the lizards in the garden. But you know, that's just me ;)
I know this post was a rather personal one, and there will probably be more like this in the future. Like I said, I'm much more comfortable with who I am and the things I've been through. Keeping quiet doesn't fix anything- I did that for way too long. And if this post and others like it can help someone else, then that's a good thing. I know I felt so alone for so long. Maybe if I had read a story similar to mine I might have gotten the courage to change things sooner.