March 20, 2015

Beginnings, endings, and beginnings

In late May or early June 2011, I was nearing my 150 pound weight loss goal. I was on top of the world, and thought that I might be open to seeking a partner for my journey. I had tried a few months earlier, with poor results, but now, almost 50 more pounds lighter, I felt ready. Or at least readier. I was young, healthy, and living in an incredible city. Everything was happening for me - I looked good, I felt amazing, and I wanted someone to share that with.

One night, I grabbed a postcard and a "Hello! My name is" name sticker. I trimmed the top off the sticker, scribbled down an honest belief, and mailed it in to PostSecret.

Only a few weeks later, I went on a first date with the man I would eventually marry. But by the time the card was posted to the PostSecret website a few months later, we were no longer together - in terms of our relationship as well as geography. It was a Sunday morning in my apartment in California - I went to the site, saw my card, and wondered if it would ever be true.

I still wonder that now.

Last night, I told my husband that I had contacted a lawyer's office, and that I was looking to get things started in pursuit of a divorce. I've been doing research on the process, and as long as we can come to a mutual agreement on things, it shouldn't be too complicated or too expensive.

He was shocked, but not surprised, if that makes sense. Last September, I had told him that I wanted to separate but that I would allow him to stay living in our apartment while he got a job and figured out his next steps. We talked a lot, we cried, we made promises to communicate more and seek counseling. But after that night, nothing changed. And situations got worse.

It wasn't one thing that ended the marriage, it was a lot of things. Some little, some very big. And I'm sure I'll be exploring and writing my way through that more as I work through my recovery and healing process.

Immediately after telling him, he called a few family members, which upset me - that's exactly why this is happening, because he talks to everyone except me about our issues. Before discussing it at all with me, he had already received advice and harsh words from people who know little to nothing about our situation here.

And that's an interesting thing, too. When I told my mother and sisters, the reaction was a sigh of relief and finally in unison. Because I've opened up to them extensively. Matt doesn't communicate with me, but he doesn't communicate with his own family either. So to them, of course this was a complete shock, it seemed to come from out of nowhere ... because to them, it did.

I don't want this to become a Matt-bashing space. This blog is the story my life, with a close focus on my journey to health, and I want to keep the relationship talk limited to what is crucial for my health - physical and mental. I don't want to say we are parting as friends, because honestly, as much as I wouldn't call the way we've been living and interacting a marriage, I wouldn't even say what we have now is a close friendship. But we're far from enemies, and we'll hopefully each emerge from this in a far better state.

I think the idea that people come out of a marriage as enemies is one that terrifies us both. It happened in both our parents' marriages, and we both grew up damaged by the effect that the fighting and pettiness had on us. I urged him last night: during this process, we have to communicate, it's important now more than ever. And please, please, keep in mind: ours is not our parents' marriages, this will not be our parents' divorces. We have the chance to walk away from this with as much of a feeling of peace as we can, all things considered. The key is going to be communicating - that's been the key all along.

Since making the decision to reach out and figure out the next legal steps, I've felt more and more like my best self - I've made good food choices, I've been consistent with workouts, I've slept better. I told Matt, that's another positive to separating - since we've been together, we've both struggled not only with our weight, but with disordered habits. We don't support or encourage each other - we trigger each other. Besides mental health, having a bit of distance between us will be good for our physical health as well.

I've been reaching out to friends and family, hoping for strength and guidance through this. I know I can survive this - my sister Lisa said, no one ever died from getting a divorce - but I am still nervous and anxious. I have had a few good days this week, but that's because everything is new. Everything is still talk. But within the next few months, half of the bedroom will be empty. Half of the bed will be vacant. There will be holes in the walls where his pictures and artworks were. Traces of him everywhere. And that's just the usual end-of-relationship emotions - there will also be lawyer meetings, new bills, and trying to balance being a single mom who works full-time and still makes time for her son and for herself.

My dad calls stuff like this "going through the mill." You're going through the mill, he says. Life is throwing something at you, and it's going to be tough for a while, but the only way out is through. It's a feeling I've had so many times before, it's just the situational specifics that keep changing. I didn't think I could lose 150 pounds, but I did. I didn't think I could become a mother, but I did. And right now, even though I worry that I am going to wind up defeated by this - I know, deep in my heart, I won't.


73551CA said...

You are amazing. Don't ever forget it. This will not defeat you, it will make you stronger. When I went through my divorce 8 years ago, I thought it would kill me. It didn't. It made me stronger in so many ways. I'm so very excited for the doors you are going to find opening for you because you're being true to yourself!

Katie Foster said...

Mary, I'm so sorry! I'm embarrassed to admit that I am super far behind on everything going on with you (I only know the gist from Facebook--Noah is UBER adorable, by the way); so I had no idea that your marriage was suffering. It sounds like you're doing what's right for you, and I think that's great. xoxo

LovelyDreams said...

I recommend both you -and- Matt read "The Truth About Children and Divorce" by Robert Emery. It deals with how to have a divorce that doesn't hurt your kid(s). How to communicate with them and with each other, etc.

I think you're doing the right thing, as hard as it is. -hugs-

Running Meg said...

I think "going through the mill" is the perfect description. You are fierce and strong and amazing and you will get through this. Your family seems wonderful and supportive and I am glad you have them by your side.

Amy said...

Oh big hugs. This is such a huge decision and it's a big transition. I'm happy to read you're finding positives in the split and that rather than lifting each other up, you've been triggering each other.

What is going to happen with your job situation and Noah? I'm curious because you mentioned you've been applying to new jobs... are you both going to aim to live in the same city?

Anonymous said...


A long time ago we became blog friends. I eventually stopped blogging and some time later picked it up again (The Unfit CrossFitter) and again, stopped blogging. I stopped, no because I "fell off the wagon" but because I ran out of things to say. But I never stopped reading your blog, except when it went private for a while. I always checked back and last week saw that it was no longer private. I was so sad because it felt like you were going through so much, but this post, though sad, sounds very hopeful. I'm excited for you for this change and I think you will be better for it in the long run. I am now pregnant (19 weeks today) and even though we were trying and even though I felt good about where I was physically, I struggle with my body changes. I still CrossFit, but I feel a difference in my stamina, endurance, and abilities. I always think about your journey and feel empowered by all your successes, setbacks, and honesty. I am wishing nothing but the best for you, Matt and Noah as you navigate this scary new territory.

When things get tough and you feel like you're at the end of your rope, just remember that this too shall pass.


Debby said...

I'm so glad to hear you are doing what is going to be best for you! It's always hard to leave what's familiar, and things will feel odd for a while, somewhat empty, but I think your mental health and physical health can only improve. I think the relationship was meant to happen as you got a beautiful son out of it, but there may be another, happy, relationship waiting on the other side. One that was meant to be as well.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

So very glad to hear that you are working on your best you and that you've come to the decision sooner than later. Noah won't remember any sort of fighting or tension between mom and dad in the house. He'll only know the good parts.

Charlotte said...

This is a difficult period to go through, but like someone else said, remember that, this too small pass. Making the decision to be happy, even if it means being by yourself for a while, is the best decision.
I am happy that your blog is public again, I love to read your writing.
Take care and be kind to yourself.

Cortney said...

Proud of you, Mary. I think this is something you have known you've needed to do, and despite how hard it is, the fact that you are proceeding speaks volumes about how much you value yourself and your wellbeing. You deserve good things - many of which are surely ahead!