Marriage. I failed at Marriage.
I see other couples and wonder how it is that I am the one getting divorced while they remain together. I see couples that are horrible to each other. They insult each other and yell at each other. I never did that to my spouse, and he never did that to me. There was no physical violence, no shouting, no destruction of property, and minimal slamming of doors. I supported him in his business endeavors, both financially and by assisting, and he took me to many of my Dr’s appointments. We both did volunteer work with our children and supported each other in this. We rehabbed two houses together, I doing the planning and procurement, he doing the labor. We had friends, and parties and vacations.
Yet we are the couple getting divorced.
It took cancer to wake me up. Not to the fact that I had a bad marriage. I knew that. I knew that we had different core values, that he would go out of his way to avoid spending time at home, and that fidelity was questionable. I knew that when he came home my anxiety would increase and, if I was asleep, I would wake up as he got into bed and not be able to fall back asleep. I knew that he lied, told me what I wanted to hear to put the end to any discussions about the kids, our life, finances. I knew as he was lying that he didn’t mean what he was saying, he just wanted to end the conversation. I knew he had “connections” with other women, either physical or emotional affair, although ultimately it doesn’t matter. The impact is the same. I knew that I felt tremendous shame that I had opened myself up to the man I thought would be my companion for life, but was now out in the world telling women my failings. And I knew he felt I didn’t love him.
What I didn’t know was the staying with him was Literally Killing Me. I knew I was sick; that was obvious. I was so sick I ended up on disability. My lungs were shot, my immune system was a mess, I had autoimmune issues out the wazoo (hey – that’s a real word!) and, eventually, I had cancer. I dismissed all of it as my own particular failure. I believed that I was “weak”. I believed, as he said repeatedly, that taking medications made people ill and, since I was taking medications, it was essentially my own fault I was ill. I believed that I just didn’t deserve good health, or a happy life. I was such a bad wife, such a bad person, I got what I deserved. Karma, so to speak.
Then he moved out, and slowly but surely, I started to relax. I started to regain some control over my life, and my anxiety became manageable. I started sleeping better, eating better, feeling better. I took up yoga and meditation and became strong, and centered and peaceful. Suddenly, I feel healthy! (healthier anyway)
I don’t blame him for my illnesses. I am responsible for my choices, and I chose to stay in a bad marriage. I willingly walked into a bad situation and chose to stay in it for 23 years. I was the one who ignored his lies and bad behavior. If you asked him, he’d say I was the one who didn’t love him enough; I forced him to seek “comfort” with other women. It is 100% true that I was unable to meet his needs emotionally. I knew this. Yet I chose to stay in my marriage, and to try not to rock the boat. I chose to deny the reality of my existence. I can not deny that I made these choices.
I am also not claiming that I am “cured”. I know that my lungs are still shot, I still have autoimmune issues, and chances are pretty good that my cancer will come back. I still have days that I spend mostly in bed, days that all I can do is yoga and meditation, days that I want to cry over my limitations. I know that while I feel 100% better then I did a year ago, I am still a fraction of a normally functioning woman. I know that while I get more done in a day then I have in 20 years I am still far from whole; far from healthy and well.
In the end, though, I am getting divorced. I failed at marriage. I never even thought I’d get married. I was a successful “career woman” when I married, and it surprised me that I was even getting married. I was not the girl who dreamed of marriage, the white dress, the cake (which made planning the wedding a nightmare!) Yet when I did marry, I truly believed it to be for life. I believed in those vows I took at the altar that day, and I wanted to be with him till death, I thought we could make it work.
I failed. Perhaps not for the reasons he thinks, perhaps not for the reasons that seem apparent, perhaps for reasons I don’t fully understand.
I did fail, but I don’t have to be a failure.