The difference a year makes

Looking back on the past year, I’m surprised at how much I have changed. How much growth I’ve seen and how much sorrow I’ve survived. The most surprising thing though is how different my 16 year marriage looks to me now…versus how I viewed it when T first decided it was over.

As I go back and read through early journal entries I see so much fear and weakness in myself. I put so much of my identity in trying to be a husband and father that I was unable to see how miserable I was.

T saw it..I’ll give her that.

She said we were done and I thought I was done. I could never find someone to love again…as if I knew what love was. I would never make it on my own…as if I had any idea of what “on my own” would look like. I was destined to die, young and alone. And then a funny thing happened…I moved on pretty quickly.

T said she wanted to see other people and I knew she already was and somehow, despite my complete lack of self-awareness, I found enough pride and personal worth to dust off my shoes and walk away. It still hurt, don’t get me wrong, but my perspective changed. Suddenly I didn’t want to be with her anymore. She found someone else that she was happy with. She didn’t want me…so why sit around and mourn her? I wouldn’t. And it was only a short time later that I didn’t.

And now I look back and see how sad our relationship was. Again, I want to clarify, we both tried and did the best we could but it was an unfulfilling marriage. In my journal I listed off 7 things that I loved about T. 4 of the 7 were about her looks. 4 out of 7 were superficial pointless vanity filled reasons. And the other 3 had to do with her treatment of my children and her treatment of the girls she works with (she is a great mother and advocate). I sat there realizing how sad both T and I must have been if the things I admired most about her were her pretty face.

I also saw how much blame I put on myself. And realized how much time T spent tearing me down. Telling me how depressed I was and how rude/unsocial I was. And in fairness,  that’s how I acted when I was around her. What came first? The judgement or the actions? Hardly matters now that it’s over.

I now see T as often wanting to be the victim. It’s T against the world. It’s how she thrived…and I became her enabler. I never stood up to her. I never called her out. I was so afraid that any misstep would cause her to leave me that I was never authentic with her, or myself for that matter. And then she left anyway. In many ways I am grateful to her for having the strength to leave. She had checked out of our marriage years earlier and I was unable to see that I had barely checked into life.

One year later, I’m growing…trying new things…adventuring…and gaining confidence. I’m learning to communicate with others, despite the risk of offending (losing) them. I’m learning to hear my own voice, my own needs, my own feelings and finding freedom.

Now that she is gone there is a strange sense of relief. It isn’t a particularly pleasant feeling but it’s relief. It reminds me of when a migraine headache starts to fade away…there is this feeling of relief mixed in with a memory of the pain. It’s all still there…mashed together…yet  each time the pain fades a new feeling of strength fills its place. I’ve come a long way and I have a long way to go and I’m exited for my future.

The difference a year makes