I choose me.
Friday, Jun. 29, 2018 2:26 PM
“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I did it. I officially filed for divorce on June 20th.
I should be celebrating, right? I should be having a piece of chocolate cake with white icing. There should be streamers floating down from the ceiling, rainbow in color, landing all around me. Fireworks should be shooting off in the air.
But none of that is happening.
Instead, I feel guilty. I feel like I'm still on an emotional roller coaster ride, experiencing a bunch of ups and down and loopty-loos.
I constantly keep asking myself if I'm doing the right thing. This decision didn't come easily. After all, I vowed to love my husband "in sickness and in health until death do us part." I tried very hard for 8 years to be a wife and a stepmother. I know this... but I constantly question that. Did I try hard enough? Would things be turning out differently if I had tried even harder? I ask myself these questions all the time, doubting my decision in the wake of the chaos that is ensuing all around me. My anxiety levels are in overdrive and all I want to do is grab a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream and gorge myself. I want to curl up into a ball in the bathtub and cry.
But I can't.
Not right now. Not yet.
I must stay strong for just a little bit longer. I must get myself through the next two or three months, giving myself up to the universe, trusting in the fact that what will come to be is meant to be. Somehow, we always end up exactly where we're meant to be. I have to keep reminding myself of that.
This is what led to me finally taking the plunge:
I've been depressed for a long time now, extremely unhappy in my marriage. It has nothing to do with his cancer. It never has. It's his other disease - Alcoholism - the one he hides so well behind a masked face and a bunch of excuses. Over the last few years, his disease has gotten worse. He is cruel to me in tone of voice. He is condescending and snarky. He tells me I am ignorant, uninformed, unintelligent, stupid... He calls me a snob, a bitch, an unfeeling ice queen. He slams doors and cabinets so hard the house shakes. He screams and yells. And the list goes on.
First off, I need to say that he did a good job alienating me from my friends. He did a horrible job alienating me away from my family - but that doesn't mean he didn't try. Second, it wasn't until after we were married that he became a strange version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Third, we both used his cancer as an excuse for his behavior, which allowed me to continue to enable him while at the same time excusing everything he did; and fourth, so much has happened over the last decade, with so much more taking place since I quit writing in my diary, that I couldn't even begin to catch up on it all. So I won't. I'll only state what was important in finally helping me gain the strength to make one of the hardest decisions in my life.
So here it goes... I was lonely. I hated myself. I hated who I had become and who I was turning into. I had no contact with my friends and no energy to contact them with. I had given up everything I enjoyed from writing in my journal to going to the movies and doing normal stuff. I was told my weight had mushroomed to a point where if I didn't do something about it now, there'd be no going back and I would eventually die an early death. I didn't care because I didn't care enough about my life. I wanted him to die and pass on or for me to die just to get out of the situation I had found myself in. I felt trapped. I felt like this was the only way I could get out of marriage.
But all of that changed last year. I started to chat again and found myself connecting with people. On the 4th of July, I was talking to two people when he came into the office drunk. He trapped me in the office and wouldn't let me leave. His son, fortunately, came up the stairs and gave me a way out. Later, I got a call from a neighbor saying an ambulance had been called to my house. I've been here before, so I asked the neighbor if it was serious. The EMT said it wasn't, so I stayed to enjoy the fireworks. It was his attempt to ruin my evening and make me come home. I found out later he had threatened to commit suicide to his son. Anyhow, both of the friends I had been talking to were raised by abusive parents. They both pointed out this was emotional abuse. Deep down I knew that, but until they actually said something, it was like I was living in a fog ignoring all of the signs. Both of them convinced me to at least get my own checking account because that would make a world of difference.
And it did. I got my own checking account in September and all of a sudden I had money! I had money to go out to the movies with. I had money to treat myself to ice cream. I joined a book club and could afford the books we were reading. I had enough money to pay my taxes for the first time in years. And I was elated! But then I was also very pissed off. I was pissed off that so much of the money I earned had been wasted by him. And for what? Cigarettes, pot, and alcohol. Nothing else. And then I started to see how much he wasn't contributing. How he spent his entire $1,100 from the government on his addictions.... how little he paid towards the household or helping to pay his medical bills, etc. etc. etc. And then I saw how much his son was mooching off both of us, and I grew more livid with my circumstances.
The anger I felt was mind blowing. Literally. In January of this year, I asked my doctor to put me on phentermine to help me lose weight. It's the only thing that has ever helped in the past... and in the last 6 months, I have lost 43 pounds. I spent some money on buying season tickets to the music theater here so I could see the plays with my family... and while I started to improve my life, he started to let his life go even more. I noticed how much I hated being at home. I noticed how much I was walking on eggshells around every corner, how toxic we are for each other, and how much better life felt when I wasn't around him. I tried to get him to seek help. I tried to get him to make the changes for us to stay together, but then I realized you can't change anybody but yourself. I also realized that it's not fair to him for me to demand he change. It's not fair to him for me to want him to change. I either stay married and accept him for who he is 100% or I don't. The fact is, he chooses to not seek treatment for a disease that has complete control over him. I don't know if it's because he's embarrassed and/or ashamed or if it's something bigger than that. Either way, it's one thing to take care of a spouse who is sick with cancer. It's a completely different thing to take care of a spouse, sick or not, who chooses to drink alcohol and make themselves sick.
Anyhow, back on track for a moment...
The other night he came into my office and asked me to help him fix something. It was a black thing that went around the wrist like a watch. When you pull it apart, there is a sharp blade on one end. I told him to quit aiming the sharp blade at me, and kept backing up away from him. He said, "It's not that sharp. See?" Then he proceeded to cut the top of his arm from the elbow down to the wrist. When blood started pouring out, he said it was just a minor cut. I told him to wrap it up in a paper towel or something to at least stop the blood from dripping. He kept sucking on the blood instead and licking up the wound. He had slash marks all over his wrist and I asked him where those came from. He said he was dehydrated so the "scars" were more pronounced, but they were old. I told him I'd never seen them before and he's been dehydrated a lot over the years. He didn't comment back.
This has been my life since he realized I filed for divorce. I believe he is playing mind games, toying with my empathy level, and trying to guilt me into staying. What he doesn't realize is that when he pulls these things, it only reinforces the fact that I need to get away from this situation before it gets any worse. I feel for him. I always will. I feel bad he is sick with cancer. I feel bad that he is disabled and can't drive and has literally nobody but his son. And it's these feelings that make me question what I'm doing most of all.... but at the same time I can't continue to live like this. I can't continue to play these games and ride on this roller coaster. I want off the drama train. I want to find my peace and quiet. The only way I think I can do that is by doing what I'm doing.
It's going to be a bumpy month or two. I'm going to be losing a lot of financial security in doing this, having to give him half of everything I worked hard for... but it's either lose half my equity and gain some kind of serenity or keep my full equity and continue to walk around on broken glass with bare feet.
I choose the serenity.
I choose me.