Monday, October 16, 2017

Looking Back

I wrote a post about trying to hold onto the home I bought, recently.  Based on one particular comment, I gathered that it was assumed that I maintain a lot of bitterness in the wake of ending my marriage.  The truth is that I don't.  At all.  But I kept thinking about it for the rest of the day.  Then I thought about an outside look at the last entire year of my life as I struggled in the grind to get back on my feet.  It occurred to me that a lot of people probably assume what was assumed on my IG post.  And I don't fault anyone for that. No one could ever known what lied beneath the surface because I never addressed it.  Further, I spent a lot of time expressing in my own way some of the hardest parts of the emotional roller coaster that is a separation.

I talked so much but I don't think it was ever transparent.  It wasn't fair to my family who struggled to identify with my hardship, and more importantly it wasn't fair to my ex-wife.  I crashed and burned and crashed and fell on my face over and over and the truth is that her and I parting ways had less and less to do with the reason for it all.

Well then.  Here goes nothing.

Divorce was the toughest time of my entire life, at the time.  The emotional toll extracted was unparalleled for me.  Acknowledging and accepting that life as it had been would be no longer, at the time, I thought would spell the end of me.  My role as a father would permanently change.  I'd become a fraction of the man I'd imagined being in my daughter's life.  Coming to terms with a shift in ideals was the hardest.  I struggled on a daily basis to see my way through it all.  It wasn't a straight line by any means.  I clung to to the self-made notion that the pieces of a broken life could somehow fit together, though it wasn't so.  I doubted myself, and walked a tightrope of indecision for some time before finding the courage to achieve closure.

It was during this period when I invited the darkest of days.  It had little to nothing to do with the end of my marriage, and everything to do with the relationship that followed.  I don't think I was ever honest with myself about the source of so much psychological erosion.  I escaped reality by  remaining saturated in a self-loathing, regretful state and equipped myself with ill-fit coping mechanisms like good whiskey and an unending stream of aimless apology.

Never waste good whiskey on depression.

Truth is, I never even stopped to consider why I was apologizing and what for.  Divorce is not linear.  It's full of tumultuous ups and downs and struggle and strife and indecision and I had my fair share of it all.  I found myself hanging my head in shame and regret, accounting to someone for what was the most human way of handling things that I know.  While separated from my then spouse, I began a committed relationship with a partner with no experience in either divorce or raising a child.  Understanding is only skin deep without relatability.  The notion of real empathy was a guise.  I remember realizing and accepting that to atone for what I felt like were my wrongdoings in the earliest months of my separation - my frequent indecision and inability to simply 'get through it' - would require years of enduring passive aggressive references and a lack of faith in me.  I would be questioned for my loyalty and commitment, doubted for my explanation for how I progressed with my divorce (there's no instruction manual, if you're looking for one), and reminded on a daily basis of my failures.  I saw all of that as a means to an end.  I would prove myself by embracing those criticisms and shoulder it like a man who wants to do right.  That was my mantra and justification for dangerously unhealthy behavior.

It wasn't some chivalrous display of intent.  It was pure and simple gaslighting.  It pushed me down and kept me down.  I slept only a handful of hours in any given week.  I was sick and exhausted from working toward another self-made notion that if I only endured enough of it, some time it'd all be worth waiting for.

"The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care."
An Offspring song, of all sources of inspiration.  Every brief moment of courage I may have mustered to voice my feelings about the constant references to the end of my marriage were met with increasing hostility.  In turn, I only decided to work harder to do right.

Meanwhile behind the curtain, an entirely different narrative evolved.  Truth is, I don't think hardly anyone is truly blindsided by unfaithfulness.  They may tell you so, but it is only by willful ignorance of countless foreshadows that they survive day to day with a sense of normality.  The writing is almost always on the wall.  My concerns were only met with more gaslighting.  The purest form of it, in fact.  I spoke of things I thought I'd seen or noticed, and was made to feel responsible for my own doubt and insecurity.  It must have been my own conscience painting images that kept me up at night.

I ended up in this strange dimension where even the air in my own home, smelled as if it were expelled from a stranger's lungs, and was my duty as a committed partner to inhale it in silence.  The most emasculating experience was to subdue my most basic instincts to protect myself and willingly stand before the flames, over and over again.


My friends and family all stood by and watched me sink lower and lower into depression while I offered little detail of its origin.  It wasn't fair to any of them.  I wasted away and those cared to support me the most were kept in the dark.  I know now that even if I'd wanted to tell them, I don't think I could have.  I possessed neither the perspective nor courage to be transparent in those moments.  I was preoccupied with backpedaling.  Feverishly mending fences around the clock, trying to rebuild some sense of worthiness while sliding downhill at a quickening pace.  I don't think I could face my own reflection in the mirror, and admit that so much of the future I had been working for, was never there in the first place.  I had to believe there was a meaningful end.  I'd told myself I'd gladly be held to the flames if it afforded me the life I was working for.  How wasted away my mental state was, that I believed some punishment like that was a path worth choosing.  If someone had told me then, that there were people in this world who possessed a kind of affection for me that would never see me knocked down, only for the illusion that I'd some day stand up again, I'd have not believed them anyway.  I bought into the belief that real love was fighting for what you believe in; that it was difficult and if you weren't with us, you were against us.  Willful ignorance, after all.  I had assigned purpose to the worst parts of my life in the most harmful of ways.

This is probably the most personal I've ever spoken about a lot of stuff.  I don't share it as some kind of diary entry, or for random entertainment.  I also don't share it to draw attention to any individual who was ever involved.  In fact, their actual identity isn't even relevant.  People on both sides of the fence will end up in your back yard at all stages of life; those who'll give and those who'll take.  Experience and humility light the way through the dust and smoke.  If I'd stopped at any point and considered that maybe I was wrong, and stepped back to look at the direction my life was headed, I'd have surely spared myself from a great deal of emotional damage.  But still, nothing is without purpose, and I am able to at least see the world through grateful eyes.

I share it because I find it liberating.  But also because of how powerful people's stories are to me, who've walked a similar path.  I read about dangerous relationships and the warning signs within them, and the parallels often hit me so hard in the face they leave me in tears.  I am flooded with frustration and anger in those moments, that I could have allowed myself to end up in a similar situation.  So, I'll write a post like this in hopes that maybe someone afraid to admit just how down and out they really are, might be able to face the fact that it's time to do something about it.


2 comments:

  1. Hey brother, as usual I enjoy reading your posts they are always insightful. And full of words I don't know causing me to look shit up. Lol. I'm once again standing at the threshold of another divorce. Realizing I am the one at fault just as last time but this time I'm not in denial. Knowing this has put me back in a dark place I've been before. Nearly taking my life when I was 24. Recently I have posted several poems the depict my emotional state. And just as in you blogs or posts what ever you like to call them. I use my poetry to relieve some of the pain and turmoil that goes on in my head. It seems it gets harder and harder to deal with life. I. Noticing slippage at work and in my life. I need to pull it together. I never wanted to be a part time dad again. But here I am. Again with a 5 y ear old at home wondering why daddy doesn't want to live with his family any more. But I find encouragement reading your post. Not whipping me outta my slump. But its nice knowing I'm not the only one struggling with my choices. All the best to you brother.

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  2. This is a powerful post. Having endured some of what you referenced here, but being unable to articulate it so well, I felt like I was in my own head from about 5 years ago. I've followed your IG and blog through this whole process and just want you to know how happy I am for you that you're seemingly on the other side of it now and happy. God speed!

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