February 14, 2016

"But you are."

I weighed in Friday down 4 pounds, to 313. It feels so, so good to not only be able to log consistent efforts, but to track consistent results.

I went out to dinner on Friday night with some colleagues to talk about our new Languages department. I had a shrimp quesadilla and ate it without a second of guilt. I was on plan all day, I was back in my routine Saturday morning. The scale was up, but it's already back down. Not freaking out over fluctuation is a sign that I'm doing well with my recovery, that I'm back in a good groove.

I don't know if it's surprising or expected, but I'm not feeling triggered at all to overeat/binge today.

Today is Valentine's Day. Months ago, I wondered what I'd feel, if today would come with feelings of Relief or Remorse. Now that we're here, I'm not surprised that it's entirely Relief.

The divorce experience is really surprising sometimes. I thought I'd be sadder, and sometimes I am, but mostly, I just feel relieved. It doesn't feel like lost loves of the past, because in those cases, when it ended, there were still huge feelings with no closure to help sort them out. My heart ached for years for my first crush, for my college love, for my organic California romance.

This isn't like that at all.

It feels a bit like a little kid with a balloon. When it pops unexpectedly, you're shocked. Everything seemed fine, and suddenly, it isn't. And that hurts. But if it slowly deflates, shriveling and reducing to a withered and almost unrecognizable mass ... there's not a lot of grieving there. It served its purpose, it expired, and now discarding it is in your best interest.

Often, big things don't bother me as much as I would expect, but small things bring me to tears. The tears are rarely for him or for the relationship, but mostly just self-directed anger and regret. I am not bothered by being alone on Valentine's Day, but I cried at Target around November when I saw a Christmas gift on the shelf and my first thought was to get it for him. Because even when he was terrible, even when he made me feel completely worthless, I still tried to keep him happy. The first time I asked him for a divorce was on our first wedding anniversary (a story for another time), and I didn't even tell him until after I'd made him a special dinner.

I'm not crying for him, I'm crying for how silly and foolish I've been. For how much I gave - time, energy, love - to someone who never even tried to reciprocate. It's not that it wasn't equal, it's that it wasn't anything. It wasn't a partnership, ever. And I'm crying for myself, embarrassed at what a sap I was.

I was cleaning my bookshelves yesterday, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect: I found the Valentine card he made me last year. It was a sheet of white printer paper, folded in half, covered in writing.


I am inattentive and oblivious.
But you are always perceptive, present, and thoughtful.

I forget important dates and events.
But you remember them and help us celebrate.

I don't think ahead enough, don't plan enough, don't do enough.
But you are ever-prepared and make us ready for anything.

I am terribly selfish.
But you are selfless.

I drive you insane often.
But you put up with me, and keep me grounded.

I don't show you appreciation enough, don't give the love language you want and need often enough.
But you appreciate when I do, and try to tell me how to do it better.

I am often a terrible excuse for a husband.
But you are, in many more ways, a wonderful example of a wife.

I frequently fall short as a father.
But you couldn't be a better mother.

Noah and I would have nowhere near as good a life without you.
But you don't hear that nearly often enough, even though it's true.

I am really not good at this marriage thing.
But you are.

I love you.
But hopefully you know that.

When he gave it to me last year, I didn't know what to think at first. It was the most personal thing he ever did for me. And yet, my immediate reaction wasn't sweetness or love. I felt only indifference.

Then anger.

Because it's a list of his terrible traits, with no apology or promise to improve. And because I had a stack of Valentine cards, of birthday cards, Christmas cards, Mother's Day cards with the same hollow statements. Lots of I know I haven't been a great husband but... and yet not a lot of what I really wanted to hear: ...but here's what I'm going to do to make things better.

It was meant to be read as a list of compliments, but it felt more like a to-do list. We're surviving because of you. And I didn't know how much longer I could stand to carry the entire weight of the relationship, which had long felt like more of a burden than anything else.

A few months earlier, we were laying in my sister's bed in Connecticut. It was Christmas night, and I'd caught him texting some girl while we were at my family's Christmas dinner table. In the moment, I'd kept quiet to not ruin everyone else's evening. But here, as we got ready for sleep, he reached over to caress my arm, and I quickly jerked away.

Don't you dare touch me.

And I told him I knew, and I asked him why. And he gave the same answer I always got when I called him out on these kinds of actions: I don't know. I'm just selfish. And I just laid there, sobbing into my sister's pillows, and I begged him.

You know this hurts me. I tell you all the time that this upsets me so much. If you really love me, why do you keep doing something that you know hurts me?

He had no answer.

You can write a million I love yous in a million holiday cards, but they won't mean a thing if your actions don't reflect your words.

Last year's Valentine's Day was tough because I knew my breaking point was close. A few weeks later, something happened - a very big secret I've told no one, including my family, closest friends, therapist, and lawyers. It was then that I knew for sure: this is done. There wasn't an ounce of air left.

So yes, today, a year removed - I feel entirely better. I breathe better now that I don't feel so trapped. I feel less lonely now with him gone than I did when he was here. And I feel healthier. I feel happier. I was woken up this morning with kisses on my face from my favorite little Valentine ever - Mama, I love you this much! - with his arms reaching so wide they're almost touching behind his back. I feel so genuinely loved by the people in my life, by my family and my friends. They're the people who say what they mean and mean what they say - no empty promises, no phony gestures.


Amy said...

It's so great to read how much growth you've had on this journey. I think at the end of it all you'll be able to look back and be thankful it happened (beyond Noah obviously), because you will have so much more strength, you will know what you deserve, and you won't settle for less than that.

Jill Walker said...

The strength I hear in your 'voice' right now is incredible. I cannot tell you how happy and relieved I am that you have taken such huge steps in the right direction...for yourself, for Noah...and not just with your health, either. I am so happy for you, and proud of you for recognizing the path that you were on and even more so for having the courage and determination to CHANGE that path. Way to go, sistah!

Alicia said...

I love this post. The strength you are feeling is evident in your words.

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