Between The Breakup and The Divorce: The Truth About Separation

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I was standing in the backyard of my mothers house when I told my husband I didn’t want to be married to him any more. It was a couple of days after I had found about about the affair… and a few minutes after he admitted that he had told the girl he had been seeing that he didn’t love me. This was after he told me what he said was true, that he didn’t love me any more.It was a few minutes after my heart had been smashed into a thousand pieces. It wasn’t long after that moment that he began to beg and tell me that he didn’t want our marriage to be over, that he didn’t want to leave, and that he didn’t want this to change things. But it had, of course. Hearts don’t forget words like that.

Image: Michael Brooking via Flickr

It had changed everything.

I never thought I would be the kind of person to end my marriage. I never thought I would be the one to finally say, enough. I never thought I would be the one to stop giving of myself.

But I was.

For the days between that day and the day that he left the country, I didn’t sleep. I tossed and turned next to our nine-month-old baby while my husband slept in the room next door. I retraced the conversations in my head, trying to figure out how we had got to this point. I retraced the months beforehand. The tears and the anguish. The fights and the petty arguments. The hurt and the pain. The betrayal and the loss.

You don’t get infidelity when things are going well.

It’s been almost 12 months now and I must admit I still spend many nights thinking about what has happened. I'm retracing the stories of our lives in my mind and wondering how we went from the lust and the butterflies and the love when this all began all those years ago… to here. I thought so much about where we had come from that I started to forget about the build up of betrayal after betrayal. I started to forget about the lack of respect, the broken promises, the pain. A fallen marriage is more than just infidelity… a lot more.

I started to think that I could go back. I began to think I should go back and try again. It took one brief conversation to realize I couldn’t and that I wouldn’t. I have to remind myself the only way to go now is forwards into the light. Separation is hard. It’s a year of unknowns, a year of growth, and a year of hurt and bitter words. It’s a year of ups and downs and roundabouts. When it begins, unexpectedly, it’s nothing short of frightening. It’s as if you’ve just consciously walked into a dark room when all of a sudden the door locks behind you. You begin panicking, because you’re terrified and the walls are closing in on you. It’s cold and it’s lonely, so you start looking for a key or a window or some kind of escape, but quickly you realize there is no way out.

There is no escape.

You sit on the floor like a child and you beat your fists, you cry, and you feel like the tears are an endless river. They fall like they will never stop. But they do stop, because they always do. No one can cry forever. Then you sit for a while longer, and you stare at the wall that you cannot see and you wait. Then after a while, you just start making the best of what you’ve got. There is wisdom in having no escape. There is joy there too, and over the weeks and months, the room became a little lighter and the walls a little further a part; the air became a little less stale and the fear became a little less palpable.

It has nothing to do with becoming a better person, running from the pain, hiding it away, or even fixing it. Grief like that doesn’t disappear, and there is nothing broken to be fixed, just experience and pain to be lived through. It has nothing to do with any of that, but instead everything to do with accepting what is happening right now, both inside and outside of the seas of your mind. It has to do with accepting the shit, the hurt, the pain, and the grief, while at the same time not letting it overcome you until you're naked and alone and frightened in the dungeon of your own mind begging for mercy.

You don’t have to be the victim; you can choose another way. Some days that’s a choice that’s too hard to make, and some days you just have to let yourself feel like the victim for a moment or two before you are strong enough to let it go. It's hard, but it does get easier. Every day it gets a tiny bit easier. A big part of this journey ,for me, has been not just about accepting the pain of it all, but understanding that even in pain there is great joy. Even when you hurt and you feel like shit and you have no idea where you are going to go from here, you can still laugh and love and play.

Because you are still ALIVE. Isn’t it great to be alive?

Before you know it a year has almost passed, and you are still in the room but the room has become more like a gazebo. The walls are open and the air is fresh. There is still no escape, because you know in front of you lies a sea of paperwork, custody matters, and difficulty. There will be days when you want to run and hide, but there is no use in hiding because it will all still be there. But there is freedom here too. Freedom from the pain. Freedom from disappointment. Freedom from someone else’s bullshit.

There is also great responsibility here to look at your own bullshit, to face yourself in all of your weakness and accept yourself for who you are today even with your doubts, hurt, and insecurities. You do this even though you still wish things had played out differently and even though you still have a little bit of anger and hate and even a little bit of love. You do this while accepting yourself with all your flaws and congratulating yourself for all your successes.

The year is ending and the air is fresh and clean.

Can you smell it? It’s bloody fabulous.


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