Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slow And Not So Steady


I can always tell when he has been here.

He comes when he knows I won't be home. He always texts ahead to make sure it is OK. He picks up his mail and the few remaining items of his in this house and then he leaves. Even if he didn't tell me he was going to come in, I would know he had been here. There is a certain waft in the air of his scent, a certain ribbon of his being that lingers after he goes.

He left me. He walked out of our marriage, and still I find the sensation of knowing he was here comforting. I don't want to be comforting. That hurts too much.

There was no shouting between us. There was no throwing of things. There were no accusations. There was only sadness, pain, and pleading on my part. There was only a pained certainty, absolute certainty and an unwavering sense of finality on his part.

Looking back, now I see the things I didn't see when they were happening. The change in him--the isolation, the pickiness, the shutting down of emotions. I thought they were just the natural ebb and flow of a long relationship of a couple facing an empty nest.

I took the counseling sessions he agreed to as signs of hope. Now I see it was his way of crossing the t's and dotting the i's, so he could say he had done it.

I interpreted the anniversary card he wrote to me in which he said he would always love me and always be grateful to me as a promise to stay with me forever.

Now, I look at that card and know he was writing his final goodbye to me.

By his choice, we do not see each other, nor do we talk. He wants as little contact as possible. I put a star on my calendar for each day I am able to go without contacting him. It is an effort on my part. I still have things I want to say. I still have questions I want answers to. However, I have read the books and the articles. They all say the same thing: give him his space. Seeing him and talking to him at this stage of the break-up will do no good.

The nights are the worst. A Unisom or a glass of wine grants me two or three hours of sleep. Then, I awaken, groan to look at the clock just reading 11:30 or midnight. My mind races and dips into the hollows of emotions. One night I reached for my cell phone and wrote a text to him. "Come Home. Please, Just Come Home." The small amount of pride I had residing in the smallest pocket of my mind stopped me from pushing Send. "Save in Drafts?" my phone asked when I pushed Cancel. No. Don't Save in Drafts.

When he was moving his things out of our house and into the U-Haul to take them back to his new apartment (he won't tell me where it is) I actually urged him to be sure and take some tomatoes from our garden. "They're really good and you need to have some fresh vegetables," I said. Who does that? I remember that scene and at first I am angry with myself. Get a backbone, woman! Throw the stinkin' tomatoes at him; don't wrap them up in a bag for him! For heaven's sake. What's wrong with you?

But then, I stop and forgive that poor, broken woman. For thirty years she took care of him and her family. She had tried to anticipate his needs. She was just falling back on what she knew how to do. She was trying to inject some normality into a bizarre and surreal scene that was rocking her to her foundation.

How do you stop loving someone? How do you turn off this emotion? How do you stop wanting what you can no longer have? I wish it were like flipping a switch. Am I mad at him? Yes. Do I think he did the wrong thing? Yes. Do I still love him? Yes. Would I take him back if he came to the door tonight and wanted to come back? Yes. I would. God help me, I would. When will I reach the point at which I say no? I want to get to that point.

I have angry moments, and I have hopeful moments when I truly believe that I can get to the place I want to be in the future--happy, healthy, independent, full of life again. However, those moments do not last and the longing for what was and what could have been returns. In a flash flood of emotions, I feel the ache, the sorrow, wash over me so powerfully it bruises me further.

I have always been a person who likes to do things quickly. Ask my friends and they will tell you that I walk fast, talk fast, clean fast, read fast and even think fast.

What I am learning is there is nothing quick or fast about this.

I want to get over it, but I am finding I have to go through it and that it is a slow, sticky, painful, confusing path--a mire through which I must slog, a deep mire that exhausts me and sometimes drains me all of my strength.

I will be glad when I have some distance from this. I know life is precious and not to be wasted, but if someone told me I could skip ahead to six months from now, I would.

I want distance, some perspective.

I want some strong, tough scar tissue to cover this wound.


Most of all, I want to stop wanting the life I used to have.



65 comments:

Peggy K said...

Ah...you got to the point I was going to make...scar tissue. Gotta have that before you move through it. And it'll come. But for now, it's okay to love him and be angry with him, all in the same breath cycle. Breathe in, love him, breathe out, be pissed.
Glad to see you are posting about it. Helps the healing.
((Hugs))

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I know Betty how you feel though through different circumstances. I am ashamed to say I let myself go. Hair needed doing, not answering the phone, nieghbours stopped talking. There was this dark, dark tunnel. It took a long time to take a good look at myself and accepted what fate had done to my life, only then could I rebuild a life, I saw a glimmer of hope in this dark tunnel and one day the sun shone on me.
It's early days for you Betty take each day as it comes but don't neglect your friends as I did. Of course you want the life you have known for thirty years,
But you have started a new chpater in your life , things will get better but first you have to get over the shock and I know what a shock it must have been, at least I knew my husband was only going to be with me for a little while but OMG it still hurted.
Still thinking of you.
Yvonne.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You didn't throw the tomatoes because you took the high road. Nothing you are feeling or doing is wrong. It just is.
My wife says men are too logical - that they don't consider feelings, they just do what they think is the most logical. That may be true, but I still can't imagine doing that to someone.

Slamdunk said...

Thank you for sharing your story Betty--that takes courage.

My prayers are with you.

Daisy said...

You'll make it, Betty. You'll get there. It won't be quick and it won't be easy, but you WILL get there. Hugs to you.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

My ♥ is hurting for you, sweet Betty. Thanks for sharing yours today. (((HUGS)))

Psalm 4:4
Psalm 56:8
Psalm 55:22

Shelly said...

You will look back on this time and not condemn yourself for having been "soft" on him, but you will enjoy knowing that you behaved admirably, even though he did not.

Praying good things for you.

Flartus said...

Oh my, this all sounds so normal. No, you can't turn love off. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? I'm glad you are able to put some of this into words. May this be the last worst time of your life. May you sleep a full, dreamless night soon. May you forgive yourself for loving.

Leah J. Utas said...

You have strength and courage, and part of that is acknowledging exactly how you feel. It's good. I'm sorry it hurts.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Wish there was something I could do or say to help, I just know that this will pass. There is good things still waiting for you. You'll make it.

Old Kitty said...

BB you gorgeous woman! You are grieving. You've lost someone so precious to you. One day at a time. Of course your emotions are powerful and in flux. I'm truly sorry. Hugs and more hugs. Take care
x

Out on the prairie said...

Sounds like you need to look at vacations for your next break.I just realized I have not been to the ocean this year, something I always seem to do.This will slowly give you back your life, and you seem to have a good one at that.

Catherine said...

You will get there friend.
Keep strong.
xo Catherine

Eva Gallant said...

As sad and poignant as this post was, it is also beautifully written. You are very talented, Betty. And things will get better. In time.

Linda said...

I awoke this morning with you on my mind and prayed for you. It's the least...and the most...that I can do.

Katherines Corner said...

tears fell on my cheeks as I read this sweet Betty. Time heals, although I know you find that hard to believe. This terrible change in your life will have it's challenges. Know that you are thought of and that i send HUGS!!!

Bethany said...

You know what stuck out to me the most here is when you said you'd skip ahead six months if you could. And I thought, "What will be different in six months, I wonder?" And that is all up to you! You can do absolutely anything you want in order to make you life six months from now better than it is today. But you have to take action, or it will be exactly the same as it is now. So pick something to do for yourself - maybe something you've always wanted to do but never felt right about since you had a family to care for - and do it. Just for you. Just to find out how strong and incredible you are. Go out and amaze yourself!

Barbara said...

I've read your blog everyday for a long, long time. YOU ARE STRONG! STAY STRONG...and STAY CLASSY! Don't throw the tomatoes..at least not when he can see it! Over 25 yrs ago I went through similar event, and a friend told me this (which I have learned to love): The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. Today I see my ex, we chat, we get along fine...
but it's like yesterday... it's over. Stay strong! We all love you and care for you. His mistake....BIG mistake! You'll be ok...one day you'll be better than ok...and then even better. I now have friends tell me how they envy my independence. Stay Strong,BB... google Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" lyrics!! :) Luv ya....

jenny_o said...

This is grieving. It will take time. Counselors can be a great help too. I am thinking of you.

Miriam said...

I have so much respect for your big heart and your habit of loving. What better kind of habit could there be?

When I was in a similar situation a long time ago, what I found especially difficult was the feeling that I had no control anymore. My ex was being secretive and calling all the shots when it came to contact between us. What I decided to do was make some decisions of my own. I negotiated a deadline for having all my ex's things out of the house and a date for having the locks changed, and insisted my ex arrange for mail to be forwarded. I tried to do it all in a way that was respectful of the history of loving between us, and at the same time expressed my wish that we would be able to find our way through to at least a friendship when all the hurt and pain eased a bit. But it was a really good thing for me to stop feeling like I was at the mercy of someone else's agenda - it helped me move forward, at least a little bit!

Sush said...

Oh I wish I had just the right words to ease you through this awful terrible time for you. As i read your sister's post I was reminded of what my Mother used to say about me and my siblings. She said they are very loving individuals but when someone hurts the other or tries to come between them they come up like an iron fist and are ready to fight to the death for one another. I could feel that in your sister's post. You are loved by many Betty...and you will be healed in time.

Hugs~

Madi and Mom said...

Morning to you my sweet friend...
Oh BB I wish I had an answer that would fast forward this mess for you. I do; however, feel that writing will help you. I know it must be hard not to speak to him or see him but if that is what he wants then so be it...it is his loss. It is sad that he made this decision to end 30 years without even talking to you about it.
You will eventually adjust to your new life but never knowing what brought him to this decision is very selfish on his part. I pray for you each night.
With hugs and admiration,
C

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. I cannot say words enough .. and just feel for you - you express yourself so eloquently and answer your own questions before they crop up .. with many thoughts and big hugs .. Hilary

Madi and Mom said...

PS I just read Miram's comments I 100% agree with her...set deadlines. This will give you some control over you life and emotions. Traipsing back and forth as he wishes is manipulative. He kind of has you still taking care of him...of the things he left, his mail...etc. You need a clean break so that you can move on. If he doesn't want to see you then he needs to stop coming into YOUR home!! Now I'm just spitting mad for you.
Hugs C

Anjanette said...

Three years ago I had to deal with my own little journey of grief. I remember feeling exactly as you do, and telling people "I wish I could skip ahead six weeks, to where it doesn't hurt so much." The problem with that is that those six weeks (or six months) are where the healing happens--where you grow as a human.
Never berate yourself for feeling love. And I think it's always better to act in a way that leaves you feeling no regret. Bravo Betty. Good job.

john said...

This post PROVES it. This is the final straw, the missing piece of the puzzle, the smoking gun that PROVES my conspiracy theory. It is ALL rigged! For, if it were not, your Pulitzer would have already been delivered...

Susan in the Boonies said...

I confess: I went in the kitchen just now and said curse words.

I'll be mad for you, OK?

The Time Sculptor said...

Betty, like everyone else here, I feel so deeply moved by your writings in this most personal of experiences. Despite, or perhaps because of, the agony you are living through, your writing is beautifully, heartbreakingly sharp and crystal clear. Write it all out and keep it - it's reading like the chapters of a book to me... a book that would help others to find their way through such a dark time.

I too agree with what Miriam said; take action to give yourself some control back. It's human nature to want what we can't have; that applies to him too!

Hang on in there, keep praying and lean on the strength of the safety net that is spreading out here for you x Jane Gray

Brian said...

Go scratch the heck out of the couch, have some catnip, and a nice long nap. That usually works for me. ***HUGS***

Mandy_Fish said...

My mom told me it took 18 months to stop waking up feeling as though she couldn't breathe after my step-father passed away.

When I went through a particularly horrible and regrettable breakup, I started counting down the months. Kept thinking when I hit 18 it would stop.

I think what helped was having a number. An end point. Real or not.

inkpuddle said...

I have nothing but a hug for you. I've heard a trillion tips and bits of advice for getting out of/over a finished relationship, but they don't help when you're in the middle of it. I've held off commenting because I'm usually late to join and most have already said what I meant to, anyway. But I have been thinking of you a lot.

And late or not, a hug can't hurt.

Cool Gal said...

I wish I could help ease your pain, Betty. I cannot nor offer any advice. Time will help.

What I do believe, is things happen for a reason. You will get to that place. You will find happiness again. You deserve that and so much more.

Right now...it sucks. There, I said it!

((HUGS))

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

So sorry you are having to go through this. Be not ashamed of your kindness for offering tomatoes instead of throwing them. You will look back and be proud that you were true to yourself. You're a good, kind, noble person. The world needs more Bettys! Or is it Betties? :)

Mary said...

Hugs from here too Betty. Hoping that the hurting will heal in time. Thinking of you.

Ana said...

Im so sorry to hear this- you have me crying for you! You are a strong woman and will get through this shining just as bright. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Gigi said...

Oh Betty, it is a slow process - which isn't easy (especially for those that like to move quickly), but you will work through this and you will be proud of yourself. Proud that you did it and came through a stronger woman.

But, if he is well and truly done, then he needs to change his address and get all of his stuff and stop coming to the house - even when you aren't there. It's not a fair move on his part at all.

I'm thinking and praying for you daily. And sending you lots of love and hugs.

Pat said...

I am sorry you have to go through this. You will survive this. We are all rooting for you. Hang tough, my friend!

julie fedderson said...

I have always felt that the opposite of love was not hate, it was apathy. Because to hate someone still requires passion. Love won't just turn off, and throwing the tomatoes would have been awesome, but not a symbol of anything other than the fact that you still love enough to be angry--to be hurt and betrayed. I hope the pain fades soon for you, that you take comfort in each day that you make it. The strength--and the tomato-less grace by which you are handling this is amazing. You will survive to see the scar--and then the love and the hate will not hurt anymore. Blessings to you.

Ann said...

If I could speed up the process for you I would Betty for I know how slow the healing goes. Just when you think it's getting better a smell, a sound or a sight brings back memories that set you back. I used to sit up late at night when my mind was racing and write in a notebook everything that was going through my mind. I think I filled more than one but it helped to quiet my brain. I'm thinking of you and sending you good thoughts for brighter days

ellen abbott said...

you did right. what have been the point of making a bad situation worse? don't worry, its early days yet. mourn but be realistic so that you don't hold on too long hoping to go back because he'd probably been waiting for that last kid to leave.

i know of other men who agreed to counseling just for that reason. they had no intention of trying to fix it up. I think that's a cruelty on their part, to build you up so that the fall is a little harder.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Unlike him, you are not able to turn off your humanness. Don't beat yourself up over it. It's a wonderful thing. You are a wonderful woman. I can relate to all of this. I also can't help but think you're helping others by writing about it. As Eva said, it's a beautiful post. I have tears and love for you, Betty.
xoRobyn

Marlene said...

It seems so unfair, doesn't it? You can't turn off your love. He didn't, either. He's been preparing for this for some time. He dealt with all his emotions unbeknownst to you, and took the time he needed. You didn't have that luxury.

Big hugs. You WILL get through this.

Lin said...

Damn him, Betty. This is awful and you certainly don't deserve this.

Do you have a journal that you could write to him in? As in "Dear Jerkboy, I miss you. I don't know why I miss you, but I do...." or whatever. Maybe that would help. Or keep a journal on your computer. I think it might be helpful to have those conversations there and then you can slowly work through all those feelings and emotions--which are perfectly normal.

Maybe this could be a great read when it is all over and you can see how and when you started to heal. Kind of an Anne Frank diary for your broken heart.

I think of you often in my day. I hope you hear my whispers of strength and encouragement.

Brian (not the cat) said...

I'm a practical man who once went through what you are now experiencing, and here are my tips for that six months you want to get through: 1) avoid excessive use of alcohol (not that you would, of course, but just remember moderation in all things including moderation); 2) now is a good time to practice a musical talent or learn/relearn a foreign language -- the time flies by, and you feel good about doing something productive; 3) the Norman Cousins approach can be used to ensure your RDA of laughter -- Marx Brothers, Monty Python, and Republican debates are all excellent sources of high hilarity; 4) walking, walking, walking; 5) take every opportunity to do things with or just hang out with your friends; 6) try not to bury yourself in your work -- this will make the time pass, but you will heal no faster. In fact, consider relaxing your own professional expectations ever so slightly; 7) meditate on the good vibes that we are all sending your way.

Mind you, these are not intended as substitutes for the grieving process, but just things that can make the grieving not quite so 24/7.

Ms. A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Green Streak said...

Oh, BB. What courage it took to write this post. I have no doubt that you'll come through this stronger and more beautiful than ever. Keep writing. I suspect it's what's keeping you sane in this giant morass. Love you.

LittleSilkDress said...

So eloquent and achingly beautiful. Betty, you really are doing it. One step at a time. Keep writing, friend. It is a balm for the soul.

Miriam in KS said...

Yes. One step at a time. Keep writing. Set boundaries and deadlines. Take the high road.

We will keep praying and loving and supporting you.

Retired English Teacher said...

Your post brought back many memories BB. I could relate to so much of what you said. I could not relate to how well you behaved. I'm afraid I didn't do such a good job at that when my husband left me.

Your identity has suddenly changed without you even wanting it too. That takes time to accept. Give yourself time. I hope you don't develop a tough scar tissue. I think you will integrate this experience and pain into who you are in a beautiful way.

karen said...

You have already received so much good advice in your comments. I have to reiterate some things that I found helpful when I went through this: 1. Counseling - helps you see that you are still wonderful and lovable 2. Journaling - or blogging. Get your feelings down in writing - even if they are a little crazy. You'll see progress when you read back over entries. 3. Stay busy - especially with friends and family. 4. Keep an open mind about the future - who knows what amazing adventures and/or people are headed your way?
Your husband is behaving like a selfish bonehead - trying to make it easy on himself while making it harder on you. It's not kind, and I don't think you're weird because you're having a hard time with that. See him realistically - he's a bit of a coward with his disappearing and avoidance - and look for future friends who are made of finer stuff. Because you deserve it. You do.
It WILL get better. It may always be a sad part of your life, but you'll get to a point where you won't think about it very often, and even then only briefly.

Noelle said...

Even through the heartbreak, or perhaps because of it, this was one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read. Your strength amazes me and I wish I couldngive you a really big hug.

SueAnn said...

Beautiful sweet sharing of a tender heart and deep abiding painful love.
I hug you!
And I thank you for your sharing!
This kind of pain takes time...lots of it! So sorry!
Hugging you
SueAnn

Jayne said...

Betty- the fact that you are writing so eloquently about something that brings you so much pain is a sign that you're moving forward. The healing process, unfortunately, can't be hastened like a walk. Yes, you'll have to go through it. No around, under or above. It will be so exhausting. And you'll be so much stronger for it. ;)

Annie said...

Set the boundaries as Miriam said. It will help you feel more in control of your life. This is , after all, not all about him. It is about you and you must take care of you .
You will come through it. We are all here pulling for you.

Juliann Wetz said...

This is beautifully written. It made me remember what it was like to go through all of that when my first marriage ended. It isn't easy, and there is no easy way through it. But there will come a day when you will stop wanting that life you used to have because your new one will be better.

EmptyNester said...

I like things to be done quickly too. And, when they aren't, I either try to speed them up or simply do not deal with it at all. Neither is a good idea or healthy. Let time do it's thing. However annoying that may be.

Shan said...

Sending you love, BB. I can't know what you're going through, but I feel very deeply for you.

Pat Tillett said...

This post really got to me. I may not have said this in a while, but you are a truly gifted writer. Feeling the things you are is one thing, being able to make us feel them is amazing.

Donna said...

I analyze too much... 30 yrs, moves out, won't tell you where, cuts communications... Won't tell you Anything?
I'll shut up now little love.... Some things you'll just have to find out on your own... I told you I over think things....
(((((hug))))))

GreatGranny said...

Divorce is like a death except you see the person instead of photos. I know it seems like the hurting will never end, but it will. This too shall pass and I hope it passes fast for you.

Hilary said...

Writing is therapeutic, particularly when done as well as you do. You'll get there.

Nicolasa @ {My}Perspective said...

Keeping you in my thoughts as you build that scar tissue.

Baby Sister said...

*hugs* Just keep taking it one day at a time. Do what your head and heart tell you to do. Grieve when you need to grieve. Be mad when you need to be mad. Heck, even throw something if you need to. Just continue to take care of you.

Unknown Mami said...

I am so sorry that you are going through this. I am amazed by your candor. Just keep breathing. You will get through this.

Anonymous said...

Until I read your blog, I originally thought your hubby had passed away, now I get it completely, no one knows how others feel until suddenly they just scram..My hubby is not a talker and he talks to me now he is retired, we take walks and we talk..I am a chatty kathy type person he is not..No one knows why someone just wants out of a marriage but I have listened to many who are angry and cannot wait to get out of the marriage..after the divorce they sing a different tune, some marry quickly others are bitter, your blog about what has happened shows to me real courage and real class..You have the makings of a new life that will soon be better and far happier, even though you are grieving the past life you once had and it seemed happy..but just remember this middles ages woman is praying for you and reading your blog and I know you will emerge a far more creative and happier person, even though it doesn't seem like it now!!! Keep yourself happy and do what makes you happy..your travels with friends and your cherishing of your son will guide your path..good luck..I have no comments upon your hubby, I think he is not really worth typing about..now you-- Your someone special..Godspeed on this new journey...