I know I owe a Disneyland post, but I have had people ask where my blog posts are lately and I am in a rare mood to write tonight. To be honest, the stuff I do write these days has been going into a file with J's name on it, only to be read someday in the hopes that I can see how far I have come. Although, that seems to be half the problem. A year later, I don't feel like I have come far enough. Part of this is inspired by insensitive comments either said/implied to me or that have gotten back to me through the grapevine. Usually it is some version of 'how are you not over this yet?' Or, 'It's not like you were married for a lifetime." I told myself that if I hit the year mark, I would survive. I think I hoped that I would be more beyond this storm that has washed over my life. In all my reading as well as in my therapy sessions, I have learned that grieving (especially betrayal trauma)is not linear. Although you will likely go through all the stages of grief, you won't always hit them in order. During some of our earlier talks, J mentioned these stages of grief in reference to me and I wanted to throw something at him because it felt like a callous depersonalization of what I was dealing with (although to be fair, I don't think he was trying to be more hurtful). Unfortunately, you don't get to check off the box marked Denial or Bargaining and move on to the next thing. I am still a little shocked every morning when I wake up and remember and still can't believe the direction things have gone (still??) I am ashamed on the days when it all feels so overwhelming and I miss him and feel like I don't care what he has done, I would give anything to have my life back (and yes, I do know how insane that is. It only adds to the fun.) I worry about being judged about the strength of my attachment to a man who, ultimately, was more disrespectful and damaging to me than anyone else ever has been. If the bad things someone did erased the all the good times, broken marriages would be a lot easier to get over.
I have yet to make a stop at genuine Acceptance. I still have a hard time grasping, or even wanting to, that this guy who I have known since I was 16, who was my best friend and father to my children could have changed so much and that I will never see him again. In so many ways, he is far more lost to me than death ever would have made him. He doesn't look, act, speak or feel like the man I married. I struggle a lot with accepting that that man is gone. To reach Acceptance, I have to be able to get to a place where I am ok with sharing my children with a person who feels like a stranger to me now even though he once knew everything about me. I still get glimpses of the guy I used to know, but this only tortures me with what could have been and what I have lost. I have to be able to accept that I have to see him several times a week between the kids schedules and the hand off. I have to watch him move on, firmly believing that despite our years of friendship and marriage, the three sweeties who resulted from it and all the good times he won't remember, he is far better off without me. I have to find a peace with having tiny slivers of my soul carved out every time I have to hear my children utter the name of the last woman on earth I want near them. It involves not letting it tear my heart to pieces every time I faithfully wait at home like the nanny to put the kids in bed and do their laundry after a fun "family" outing with Dad and The DLS. Acceptance sometimes feels like I must accept defeat and recognize that this is how it will always be. So, I tend to avoid it. I wish someone would officially add Hope to the list. Because, although we have very happy moments in our family, they are hard won for me. They are tiny pricks of sunlight through the vortex of emotions that keep yanking me back and forth and the only thing that keeps me somewhat grounded. However, even then, when the kids say something memorable or we have a fun time as a family and it is inevitably tinged by the fact that there is someone missing from our group. I avoid Acceptance because where I am is still very, very hard. As unreasonable as it is, I sometimes find myself wishing that if J were going to leave, that he would have done it after our kids were grown. Obviously it is not ideal, but sending the kids back and forth from visitation is exhausting and it will be like this until they are grown (and then they will have to worry about where to spend what holiday, etc. etc.) The people that assume that my age will make it easier for me to remarry and move on make me laugh a little. When you have three kids under six, finding the time to shower (much less meet and date someone new) is a triumph. Some days I am floating. Other days it is a struggle to keep my head above water. It is much harder than it seems to just go with the current that will carry me toward the inevitable either way. Struggle against it and I will wear myself out. Go with it and it will eventually deposit me somewhere safely, if far from my original destination. It amazes me how the struggle to not struggle is so much harder.
Every night, I put the kids to bed and face a quiet house. I check on them and think about my day. Did I do enough for them? For me? Did I act with dignity or with an feeling of martyrdom? Do I have to do it like this forever? Will this ever stop being so incredibly lonely and painful? I want to believe what I am told by those who have experience and expertise that grief is a process that won't hurt forever. I also know that there is no time line for being over the loss of both your past as well as your future, even when I have self-imposed pressure to hit healing milestones. I am often told in therapy to not get ahead of myself, which is incredibly difficult for me. I am a planner and I find comfort in knowing what it coming next. It is dangerous to think of your life in terms of how it "should" be, but there were several things that I felt like I could reasonably count on. The biggest one was that, barring death or disaster, I would have J with me to navigate raising our family no matter what challenges were tossed our way. I don't think anyone ever plans for this, but I felt it was so out of the realm of possibility that it did not even register on the list of things that might derail the 'plan.' I have wonderful friends and wonderful family and even wonderful strangers have come into my life. I have had experiences and built relationships that I might never have done in other circumstances. I am eternally grateful for that. However, if Acceptance means that I have to learn to love these groundhog days of the same stresses, the same insecurities, the same sorrow and the same worries for what might be years if not forever, then I guess I am not close yet. I HOPE to be there, but there are so many days that not losing heart takes everything I have. And there are so many days in which I fail at even that. I just don't know how you ever get used to this.
I believe that feelings of this magnitude are something only God can take away and heal. It's something I pray for constantly and I still have faith that he will answer those prayers. I just don't know how long he will let me "learn." For now, I know there is nothing I can do differently except keep to our schedule, take joy in my children (even alone), get through each day and have faith that the next might bring us more peace.
So there you go! (You DID ask...)