One year ago today, I learned of my ex-husband's infidelity and that he wanted a divorce.
Neither of these things ever entered my mind in the realm of possibility of my life. I wholeheartedly believed I had a partner, a family, and stability. Except I had none of these things.
I was alone for the first time in 14 years. I had been with this person since the day after I turned 20. How do you go from having a best friend and his family for over a decade and then to nothing? It was a rude awakening.
The first 4 months I had so much aching in my heart. The deep-down, don't-wish-on-your-worst-enemy kind of hurt. What do you do when your source of stability crumbles? I spent a lot of time literally on the ground wretching my gut out.
The next 4 months turned into “how dare he!” mode. It was a form of anger. I wished I could transfer my pain onto him. I wished I could make him feel the injustice.
The following 2 months turned into deep soul searching. I felt so empty and so unworthy the past 8 months that I made myself crazy. I needed to dig deep to love myself again, even if someone else didn't. It was REALLY hard. I made excuses for why people wouldn't like me or why I couldn't be accepted. For each excuse, I tried to find a reason to bat it down. Repetition was key. Whack-a-mole with my self worth.
The past 2 months have been about acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses. Re-entering the world of dating to discover a breadth of emotions and scars. I have an entirely new set of trust issues. I need some things that I wasn't getting from my marriage: a sense of adventure and desire to build common interests. I need to feel vibrant and sexy as a woman. I need to be with someone who is attracted to my mind and body. I have zero energy to apologize for who I am and what I look like.
Yesterday when handing off my pup Lilly to my ex (we have shared dog custody – yes, it's a thing), I stopped him to tell him something. I thanked him for what happened a year ago. I told him I never realized I could be so happy. He said he was glad, and he wanted me to be happy. Maybe it's another lie from him, but it doesn't matter anymore. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be at this place, I would have called bullshit and made you back off. Do I still wish he could feel the residue of hurt? Sure. But what good would it do?
I'm happy because I have learned I can make it without him. I can be strong on my own. I have everything I need to be independent and have found enough self worth to be unapologetically proud of who I am – right now in this moment.
It's been a horrible road. Too much wine consumed; so many tears I thought that surely my body would dry up; replaying situations in my head as to what I could have done differently; feeling like a hideous monster; feeling so alone that I couldn't move. Crying in an ER waiting room not because of pain, but because I didn't know who to put down as my emergency contact. Holidays are hard without a local family now. Coming across anniversaries and places we had experiences end up pulling at heartstrings when I least expect it.
It's also brought great things. Learning to reach out to friends – old and new – when I feel alone. Feeling like someone who is worthy of happiness. Learning what validation from within feels like. Exploring the possibility of finding someone else in the future.
My therapist kept saying how it really would take 1 year to get through this “traumatic event.” I know it's different for everyone, but the year mark feels like a great milestone. Like I'm pulling myself out from a deep sleep – the one where you just can't fathom getting out of bed because it feels like the only safe, comfortable spot you have. You rip off the blankets, feel the chill in the air, and hobble for relief in a hot shower and emerge feeling somewhat human again.
Thank you for being here. I'm grateful for this outlet where I can ramble and the occasional person will read. Here's to seeing what another year of changes can bring.