As I said in my first post, there are a lot of moments in divorce (well life in general) where all you can do is laugh. And, I promise I have a lot of those moments and posts pre-written (in my mind) regarding them, but right now I am struggling to find the funny and bright side of the situation. This is the lovely thing that happens with extreme sadness. It hits and then takes a lot of will power to not let it wash over you for an extended period of time. So right now, I am working on not letting it take me under for too long. Stay with me while I muddle through it and get to the funny shit cause I swear it is there and I promise it is good!
As a child I remember reading the choose your own adventure books and having a love-hate relationship with them. For those of you that are under 30, these books are the shit. You read a few chapters and then you decide what your character should do – either they go into the cave or they fall asleep outside of the cave, things like that. One choice may lead to death while the other may get you home safe. I hated these books because I always picked the wrong adventure and would end up in a shark’s den trying to find my way out. On the other hand, I loved them because I could always change my choice when I realized I was in danger. These books keep popping into my mind as I go through my new normal journey and people say things to me like, “this is such an exciting new chapter of your life”, “your new adventure is going to be so much fun” or “just remember it gets easier and you will look back and realize that your new chapter will be the best one of your life”. I look at these people and think bless your heart, you have no effing idea what to say to me and can I please turn back to the previous chapter so I can pick a different adventure for my character.
No one goes into marriage thinking, I can’t wait to get divorced and start a better chapter. If people do go in with this thinking, they should immediately turn around and walk out of the ceremony to save the other person the heartache of the “next adventure”. I went into my marriage and was thrilled about starting a life with C. I imagined the adventures we would share, the trips we would take, the children we would have, the house we would buy and so forth.
However, I wasn’t naive about the situation either. I am incredibly aware that C is a complicated person full of a dark past. I also know that C doesn’t really deal with anything that is too painful for him and instead he chooses to walk away and ignore it. Because of this coping technique, C struggles with different vices in his life – emotionally cutting others off, alcohol, infidelity, drugs and being emotionally and verbally abusive at times with one physical incident which I may or may not discuss in this blog. Some things still have a ton of baggage for me and I am not sure if I want to hear opinions from people especially those who may not understand my thinking on why I stayed and why I will always standby C.
Honestly, some of this darkness is one of the reasons why I loved him. He was “damaged” and tried so hard to be a good person for me. It was an enduring quality and one that I am sure he has used with other woman and uses with his current girlfriend. I can just hear him say things like, “baby, I have been through so much and have learned from it and want to be good for you. I will never do to you what I have done to others, I don’t want to be that person anymore”. This fed my “saving” need and made me think that all the hard stuff we endured only added to his journey of being a better person. I hate that my hardships may be potentially feeding his new relationship. This is one of the reasons I am sharing them publicly because they are OUR/MY STORIES and do not get to be used to forge a relationship with someone new. I am claiming ownership and sharing with everyone. Maybe that is not the right thing to do, but it is helping me – I constantly question if I am doing the “right thing”.
He would do such a excellent job of “being good”, sometimes it would last for a couple of weeks other times it would last for years. When he was good it was like nothing could touch us and it was an extreme high. As my sister J puts it, “in a relationship with someone that suffers from ______________ (insert any of the following that may apply to you or someone you love: alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, bi-polar, etc.) the highs are so high while the lows are so low”. This was C and my case. The lows would come when C’s “voices” (i.e. irrational thoughts) would kick in and tell him that he didn’t deserve goodness in his life. He admitted to me that these “voices” would tell himself things like, “You are a bad person. Breezy deserves better than you. You hurt everyone you love no matter what you do, it is who you are. Make Breezy hate you so it is easy for her to leave you”, plus much, much more. C’s “voices” and bad choices would usually kick in around major life events such as moving to our new house, our wedding, his cancer and his 50th birthday. He didn’t do well with major changes so I knew what to watch for and what to expect. I was like a warrior watching for the signs of an attack and I was ready to put on my battle gear at a moments notice. Or, as my doctor told me, you have lived your life in fight or flight for so long, you body doesn’t know if or when it is safe to relax.
I also felt severe amounts of empathy for C as I also struggle with similar “voices”. I think most people do unless they are a narcissist and think they are perfect. Yet some people struggle more than others with this irrational thinking. My thoughts are there at all times, not just during large life events. They change though depending on what is happening in my life. Currently they tell me things like “your husband never loved you. The new Brianna is better (yes we have the same name and I hate when people now misspell mine with two n’s because I think of her every time). You are broken and nothing you can do will fix it. You will always be damaged”. Since I also grapple with these thoughts, I had a better understanding of C. It was with this understanding that I would sit down and beg him to see that he deserved our life and the good times we had. That he didn’t have to listen to his thoughts and he had control over them.
I will never forgot one of our more recent conversations where we were sitting at our kitchen table. This was about 6 months ago. I made him dinner and we were discussing our life together and why this was happening. As we sat and talked, he cried. Side note: I hate seeing C cry. It shows me how much pain he has inside of him and how much he needs help. This is when my caregiver kicks in and I want to take that pain away.
As he cried we had the below conversation and my heart broke for him.
Me: “I love you and that will never change. What I don’t love is your choices, they hurt. But, you can change your choices and be the person I know you are capable of being, the person I have seen at different points of our relationship. You are a good person and I believe in you.”
C: “Stop saying I am a good person, you and I both know that it is not true. I am not a good person. I hate hurting you and I can’t stop doing it. You deserve better.”
Me: “You are right, I do deserve better, but I want you to be that better. You have a choice right now to have the life we both know we are capable of having or you can walk away like you do from everything that is too hard or too painful. Right now we are at a crossroads and if you choose to stay and make better choices it will be hard work for both of us, but it will be worth it”
C: “The only way you will have a good life is if I am not in it. I am sick of hurting you.”
Me: “Baby, I don’t understand why you see that as your only option. It is like you are standing at the gates of heaven and God is saying come on in, I forgive all your sins. Instead of going in you look at God and say nah, I am going to hell; doesn’t matter what you think God, I know I am bad so I will be in hell if you need me. I mean I know I am not God, but I am holding my hand out saying, you aren’t bad and you deserve a good life and we can work together to get it. I know C that I am not perfect; I have made horrible choices that have hurt you too. I love you and I want you. We can do this together and come out stronger, I know we can.”
C: “Never say I am a good person again, I am sick of you saying it when we both know it is not true and the choices you made were because of me.”
This is just a tiny highlight in what was a two hour conversation that broke my heart. I understood that C didn’t have to keep making the same choices and he could change – he on the other hand didn’t see that as an option. I can’t tell you how many times C told me “this is who I am and who I will always be”. In his mind he had a pre-set destiny and he didn’t have control over changing its course. In fact, I still tell him on a regular basis that he isn’t a bad person, just someone that makes bad choices at times. I also am scared shitless that he may change for his new girlfriend because maybe it was me. Maybe I just didn’t mean enough to him for him to change. Maybe he was just waiting for someone better to come along that he loves more. See – irrational thinking at its finest.
While part of my mission was to get C to understand he was in charge of his own destiny, I also wanted him to get help for certain issues that he swears were not and are not an issue for him. Certain issues that we share and that it took me forever to admit, so I totally get that they can be scary.
After that conversation, I decided I needed to practice what I was preaching and started seeing a doctor and therapist. I can now admit that I struggle with anxiety and depression pretty severely. I mean seriously, I couldn’t sit there and beg C to get help and pretend like I was fine. I had to pull it together and face my inner demons too. Because as you just read from my above conversation with C, I have made some incredibly horrible decisions during the course of our relationship. These decisions were driven by my desire to cope with my issues. Where we are today is not all because of C, I know that I have contributed. However, the one thing that is different is that I take responsibility for my choices and C knows what I did. Living with guilt was too much for me. And, I felt like shit about myself. I was and still am doing what I can to become a better person so I don’t repeat those mistakes.
I know these bad choices will come out soon enough. I just need a little more time to come to terms with them because I hate that part of myself and it is so, so, so, so, so, so hard to admit that I am not faultless and I am not perfect. I also do not want to let down my family and friends because I have so much guilt and shame about the person I was for a while.
Let’s just say if I had to do it all over I would have definitely gone back and selected a different adventure for my character. Not changing the marriage to C, but how we dealt with the struggles we faced. But as we discussed, choose your own adventure books don’t really apply to real life, you don’t get to go back and change your character’s choices. Fuck, imagine how much easier it would be if that was the case.