To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Losses Keep Coming

There is a very high price to be paid for honesty; the truth isn't cheap and it sure as hell isn't easy. And what I have struggled a great deal with during the last five months are all the heartbreaks and losses that came after the big one. One might think that such a huge disclosure and shift in life would be enough, but for me it was just the start of a chain reaction, the first domino falling. Losses I was never expecting, that no one warned me about, losses I feel compelled to warn you about should you end a significant and lengthy partnership. Over time, I have come to understand and identify my losses as primary, secondary, and tertiary. It is these losses, or fresh bouts of grieving as I rediscover a loss per se, that I think slow down the healing process, or create the good and bad days during the mourning period. At the five month mark I am managing to live a pretty good life all things considered. While I certainly have my down moments, by and large, I have joy almost every day, I have friends to spend my time with, I have my health, and I have activities to keep me interested and busy. Yet, every single time I am faced with a reminder, or a trigger, I relapse into feeling the loss acutely and easily become overwhelmed with grief about everything that I do not have anymore. The feelings may not be as acute as they were a few months ago, and now when I find his paperwork I am usually just irritated, but there are still moments when I cry and feel the grief almost as strongly as I did four months ago. When I feel particularly down, I wonder if the grief will ever ease? Will I ever be able to look at a picture he is in without reacting? Will my heart ever stop aching for what was? And at the lowest moments I can have, I wish I didn't know. I wish desperately that I could go back in time and change something. Do something to avoid the heartache. I wish the chain of events that led to the discovery of truth had never happened. If I had a magic wand I would still be a married woman on that life path. 

I would identify the primary losses as: my innate trust of people to be good and to do right by me, my faith in marital relationships, my husband and everything he as a person meant to me, and the entire timeframe of memories during the admitted period of cheating. I identify my secondary losses to be: the future as I was expecting it, such as having to cancel the Alaskan cruise we had booked for that summer, or camping trips we had planned, and our common goals such as future trips and retirement plans. Just the summer prior we had decided to start camping as a means of getting closer to nature, and now I am lugging around camping gear that I as a single female will never use, but I want to go camping again, so I have kept it. Every time I see it, I remember the camping trips we took, and the trips we had planned for the summer he left me, and I feel those losses and I am sad for what I don't get anymore. The tertiary losses are things such as too much alone time, having no one to buy souvenirs for, falling asleep alone at night facing his side of the bed, having no one to share a meal with, having no one to go to a movie with, having no one to ask how my day was, and concert tickets that he had bought me. After we broke up he said he would still go with me, but then as things deteriorated between us, he gave the tickets to me. Why would he think I wanted to go to that concert? Why on earth would he think I wanted to be reminded that the tickets were bought in happier times, and then promises were made and broken to the point that he no longer wanted to go to that concert with me. So I gave the tickets back to him and wrote him a note telling him to take his girlfriend. And on the day of the concert I was very cognizant that not only was I not at the concert, but I wondered if he was, and who he was there with. I haven't listened to that band since, and I wonder if he has ruined them for me. I have loved this group since I was 12 years old; it was the band he had previously bought me a VIP package to, and meeting those schoolgirl crushes was a highlight in my life. 

I am reminded of my various losses every time I find something that is his, be it clothing, a book he forgot to pack, or the tax paperwork. He actually took very little when he moved out, mostly his clothes, toiletries, a few smaller pieces of furniture, and what I had set aside for him as being his. One of the hardest hitting finds for me were the stocking stuffers I had already started accumulating for next year. Finding silly little gifts I had bought him, knowing he would have laughed, absolutely tore me apart; I might never hear him laugh again. And I certainly won't be spending Christmas with him. What do I do with these gifts I had already bought him? Do I donate them somewhere, try to pass them off to someone else, or do I send them to him, and if I do give them to their intended recipient, do I send them now, randomly, or do I send them at Christmas, and with or without a card? What would I say in that card? Those few small gifts represent not only pain but an enormous moral dilemma to me. Mostly though, they remind me that he won't be with me at Christmas. Finding those presents reminded me that the family unit we had built has been abandoned by him, and that I won't be getting any gifts from him ever again. I not only found those gifts when I was packing for this move, but a month later I found them again when I was unpacking. The emotional impact was much less the second time around; I was only saddened, not flattened with grief. And now that bag of gifts is sitting on my bookshelf, along with another bag of gifts for a friend that is no longer in my life. 

My husband not only walked away from our future, he decided not to take his past with him either, and left that for me to deal with. In the final days of packing before my move I told him that the only containers I hadn't gotten through were the Christmas ornaments. Over our 12 year relationship I had maintained a Christmas tradition with my husband and son. Every year in their stockings I included some kitschy pop culture ornament, usually from the Simpsons or Family Guy. My husband told me he didn't want them, to give them to our son, that he would probably like them. I felt as though he was completely disregarding that tradition and throwing it into the garbage. A loving and fun tradition that I had implemented is gone. Those bloody ornaments are in my house now, in my spare room waiting to be unpacked and cried over. Those silly ornaments are pieces of history, part of a life when my family was intact, and I was loved, and in love, and now they mean nothing. Now they will only remind me of what I have lost. I feel anger and sorrow that he disregarded these gifts I had spent time and energy picking out for him. I feel that he has disregarded everything those gifts stood for, including me. Did he leave them behind because he doesn't want to see a physical reminder of what he threw away? Is he not going to celebrate Christmas anymore? I did ask him after during a conversation about open marriages how he saw his life playing out, how would he celebrate the holidays, where would he spend Christmas? He said that Marcus and I were his family, and he would always spend Christmas with us. I was so stunned at the time with his faulty thinking that I was speechless, and now … 

There are a million small unexpected reminders of the loss. I randomly got an email the other day from Microsoft, and after about three reads of it, I figured out what had happened. My husband had gone in and changed his security settings to remove my email as the account his password would be sent to if he ever forgot his. That upset me for hours. It was another act of division from being a married couple to two strangers that had once known each other. Similarly, last week my husband copied me on an email to the timeshare company asking them to remove my email from the account, stating it was no longer "valid as a contact". It is hard not to read that as: you are no longer valid in my life as my partner and wife; I wish to delete you as a contact as you have no validity to me anymore. Is there another way to perceive this without personalizing it to such a great degree? Do I really mean nothing to him now, or is this the normal process of disconnect when a marriage fails? Changing my phone number upset me deeply, for days. I knew it was the right thing to do in terms of creating the distance between us that gives us both some peace from the emotional roller coaster we were on, but it seemed like such a final act, akin to disappearing. He has changed his number too, and I know this because once again, we had each other set up as the back up contacts for the accounts, so I got an unexpected email from our carrier stating what changes had been made to the account. I have never been to my husband's new home. He had initially said he wanted me to come and see it, spend time with him there, but only three weeks after he moved out, he admitted he had moved her in, maybe the same day. He told me he didn't want me to come over and see her stuff laying around. In a matter of mere months, to have gone from being a married couple, to strangers that don't have each others phone numbers or know where the other lives is a huge shock and a huge change. It is also a massive loss to me. It all happened so quickly that my brain can't process it, and my heart hasn't caught up either. While he was cheating and planning his exit strategy, I was fully engaged in our marriage. I can't speak for him, and I know his losses are mitigated by her and the time he had pre-planning the end of our marriage, but every time I realize something is missing in my life, like the drill I needed to take the curtains rods down when I moved, my brain is forced to acknowledge his existence, and his lack of participation in my life. 

The other day I saw a picture of R and S on Facebook together; it is the second time I have seen this. It is a trigger of loss for me because I am not in that picture. I was not with them during that happy moment in their life; I was left out for whatever reason. It saddens me and I miss them, and I miss my old life. I miss my old routine with my friends, going to yoga or the farmers market, playing with their dogs, and talking about our relationships and our husbands. I miss the couples dates we had. I see that they spend time together without me, and they are happy in the photos, and like my husband, I wonder if they miss me at all, or think about me at all. I have no way of knowing for sure, all I can do is guess, and interpret the behaviour. I think it is my lack of a husband and relationship, and the awkward circumstances of how that came to be, that has some responsibility for the distance in the friendship. I also acknowledge that it mush be incredibly difficult for S to have to go to work and see my husband and Stephanie all lovely dovey. It was likely easier to distance herself from me, than to switch jobs. That doesn't change the pain I feel though; the costs of this split can't be measured in my heart. I got to take almost nothing with me from our life; I had to start over. And it is so miserably unfair because I didn't want this. If he was the one who wanted it why didn't he have to start over, why didn't he lose his friends and social circle? I guess he did to some extent, but it was his choice, and sometimes I feel bitter over the unfairness of everything that I lost that wasn't my choice. I didn't choose this new life, and frankly, I don't really want it. I am trying to make lemonade out of lemons; pass the vodka, please.   

Almost daily I have bouts of missing my husband. Today the sensation of missing him came on with no noticeable trigger, and punched me in the gut, and then got ahold of my heart and started squeezing it. I missed him for hours before the emotion turned to anger towards her. To clarify, I don't miss the husband of the last year before the break-up, and not the sheep in wolves clothing I knew in the months after, but the man who I want to believe was a great husband that loved me for many years. I loved, and had a great marriage with, the man who wore a mask, or before he changed. The man who was a great friend, who treated me like a princess, who called me his princess. The man who brought me coffee in bed every morning that he could, and on the days he worked early, he set up the coffee maker so that it would be ready when I got downstairs. The man who brought me home a beautiful ring after a guys trip away. The man who faithfully called me every day that we were apart, so a day never went by that we didn't connect somehow. The man who bought me meet and greet passes to a favourite band. The man who surprised me on a birthday by flying my best friend out to Edmonton, and managed to keep that a secret; he knew I was homesick and what that friend meant to me. His actions displayed care and concern for my happiness and well being. We had a good life together, genuinely enjoyed each others company, I felt safe and cared for, we did a lot of great activities, and we made a lot of great memories. Now that football season is back, every time I am aware that the Seahawks are playing at home, there is a moment of sadness because I am not at that game with my husband as we had done the three years prior. It is the loss of a social activity, something we bonded over, something we talked about with each other or others, an activity that we made plans around. It was stable, dependable, grounding and we counted on it as part of our life. And now it is gone, likely forever. So I avoid watching the games, or following the teams progress. I hope that by letting that tiny piece of my life go, it is a step towards letting the entire life go. I know he kept the tickets this year having already paid for them at the time of the break-up, and he did the right thing by giving me my half, which I sold or traded away. I also know that leaves him five home games that he will go to, without me for the first time. I am aware that I am not there, that things have changed, something has been lost, and I wonder if he is as acutely aware as I am? Does he go to the game and look at the seat beside him, which someone has filled, and wonder where I am and what I am doing? Do any of the people we sit around ask him where I am? 

Since June 4, 2013, my day to day life is unrecognizable to me; very little seems to have crossed over from that life to this. People mostly, and very few at that. It feels foreign even with some of the same players. I guess that is because I have changed, and until I am comfortable in my own skin again, my life will feel awkward, like a really poorly fitted pair of shoes that you borrowed from a friend and that hurt your feet within minutes. Those shoes really aren't worth the discomfort no matter how pretty they might look or how perfectly they might accent a great outfit, are they? I have a lovely apartment with beautiful objects in it that at times I desperately want to escape because it is not home; it is the echo of a home I lived in once. I go about my day, and then wonder at night what I did with my time. Lately I have been identifying with drug addicts; I think I finally understand some of what might drive someone to use heroin. I have moments when I am so physically and mentally distressed within my own self that I would give almost anything for a break from the feeling. It is a hard sensation to describe. I feel restless, out of sorts, emotional for no reason, itching for something that I can't put my finger on. I liken it to withdrawal from nicotine when I have quit smoking in the past, but this is far more pervasive. I can't seem to just distract myself from this sensation or walk it off as I can when I want to smoke. The unease is deep within. My closest friend says that when I am fully engaged and in love with my life the feelings will pass. My psychologist says that when I have found my passion and completely changed my routine, I will start letting go of the past and move on. So I am not there yet, but I am on my way. 

This post was very hard for me to write, despite me thinking on the topic for weeks. This post didn't flow, the commonalities were not obvious, or came out jagged, and writing this has upset me more than any other post I have written. It is also the first post I wrote and then sat on for days, not sure if I liked it or not. I even called in reinforcements because I doubted myself and this post so much. I wonder why? Perhaps at this time I am only really ready to document facts, tell a story almost from the third person. There were a lot of feelings in this blog, and I might not be ready to process all of the shades of my emotions just yet. Or, maybe, putting my thoughts into black and white that the losses are real, and acknowledging to the world that the marriage is over, is still too uncomfortable.  

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