September 21, 2016

Maps

I know a girl going through a divorce right now. It's not a particularly messy one, though it has its moments.

She and her husband could not be more different - all of the similarities, interests, and goals they shared during the relationship are increasingly harder and harder to recall, as the fond memories retreat into history and the present is full of animosity on bad days, indifference on the best ones.

Throughout the marriage, she often commented (to him, and to others) about the difference in their respective relationships with media. She was older by only a few months, but was a class year ahead in school, and in terms of technology, those few months made a world of difference. When she started college, there was no Facebook. Social networking was done almost exclusively offline - in dorm room common areas, in the school cafeteria, in the hallways on campus. But for her future husband, it was different. He started school with the ability to reach out to roommates and classmates digitally, which shapes relationships with an entirely different dynamic.

That difference has continued into their separation. Almost immediately, she cut off all social connection with him, wanting to focus on her healthy relationships instead of fixating on the dying and the dead. But he, even now, well over a year removed, pursues her - not her, but information. He keeps tabs on certain accounts, screening occasionally for any mention of him.

It's a little bit sad, and it shows a deep immaturity. The relationship is over, but he follows her still, disregarding any information about her and scanning only for hints of himself in her day.

Of course he's on her mind. It wasn't a long marriage, but it was a marriage, and even the most amicable split comes with baggage. The problem is, the immaturity is blinding, and he doesn't understand what she's actually talking about when she talks about him.

Even when she talks about him, she isn't talking about him.

Even though he's had a significant role in her life's story, he's not the main character. The story is still hers - past, present, future.

Strong women (or, I suppose, strong people in general) who share their stories are not doing it so that the audience can pass judgment on whoever wronged them, but rather, so the audience can observe the strength she is now able to radiate after having walked through the dark alley portion of her life's journey. It's not about "hate him for what he did," but "love me for who I became because of it."

When she talks about abuse, she's not asking for hate directed toward the abuser, but rather, love and support for her as she processes and moves through a difficult recovery.

When she talks about disappointment, it's not a judgment of him and what he failed to offer, but more of a commentary about herself recognizing what she now knows to prioritize in future relationships.

When she expresses frustration at past or even present actions, she's not gathering angry villagers to attack him with pitchforks - she's talking through a situation with the hopes that someone who's been in her shoes can offer empathy and advice -  she's not looking for vengeance, she's looking for comfort, to not feel alone in all of this.

It's not "look how he stunted me then," but rather, "look how I've grown since."

It's not about encouraging a public to look down on him, but imploring them to look up at her, to see how she was able to rise above and move forward even with everything she was dealt. She's not defaming him, but rather, complimenting herself - marveling at her progress on the journey back to her authentic self, her recovery from the most painful broken heart of her life.

September 12, 2016

Rings

I had it on my heart all week that I'd need to write something Saturday.


I had a million thoughts about it, cried a lot, wondered how I would fit five years of my life, three years of a date having significance, and a year and a half of difficult separation into words.

In the end, as you can see ... I just let it go. No special post, no essay of deep thoughts and reflections on life and love and loss.

Part of it was that I can't say what I'd really love to finally unburden my heart with, because I know he's still reading this, though I'm not quite sure why - my ever-hopeful heart wants to believe that even though he never knew how to express it, there's some part of him that always cared how I'm doing (and that still does) ... but my experienced and logical brain tells me it's more likely been surveillance to make a report to a lawyer. Either way, I'm forced to keep quiet about the biggest things I've struggled with over the course of my relationship with him - the things I recall and grieve anew on anniversaries and holidays.

And part of it was just not wanting to subject myself to the emotional mess I become when I rehash this stuff. I wanted it to be Just A Day, not a special one, just a normal, average, boring day, like it had always been before.

My son and I woke up early, had a good breakfast, and headed to the park. We walked 2K, then I let him run around on the playground for a while. He was very curious about the kids playing soccer on an adjacent field, which is good - he starts soccer in our town this upcoming weekend. We went grocery shopping - just needed fresh produce, really - then went home and cooked up a nice healthy frittata for lunch. After, we went in the pool for a while, had chicken and veggies for dinner, and read a few of his favorite books and magazines. A few video calls from family (but none from his father, not surprised), then early to bed - after my issues with insomnia all throughout the previous week, I'm amazed that I fell asleep so quickly.

Or maybe not amazed, really. Dreading the anniversary kept me up at night; once it was all over, once I succeeded at making it Just A Day and not a source of anxiety or sadness, sleep came easily.

And that was it. Everything was normal - our new normal, like it or not. And the next day, I woke up again, and continued to make good choices - not triggered or upset by the ghost of those painful memories. It's the first time in a while I've made consistently good choices over a weekend, which is really saying something. My recovery is not linear, but there is definitely progress happening. This is the proof.