This is going to be a pretty personal post. So turn back now if you're not in the mood for such.
My husband and I are divorcing. I take no pleasure in writing that. But it is what it is. I'm a bundle of mixed emotions right now, all tangled and snarled, like a box of Christmas lights. Part of me feels relief. Part of me grieves. Part of me has hope for the future. The urge to cry catches me off guard and can strike at home or at work or when I'm out getting groceries by myself. Likewise, there are moments of peace and serenity where I know that no longer will I have to endure certain behaviors from him, or deal with issues that just tore me apart.
We fought the good fight. We tried. And tried some more. I didn't want it to end this way. In fact, I didn't want it to end at all. But it has. I've accepted that.
At one point during these past two weeks, we barely spoke and communicated only through text messages. When he came over to our house one day, though, that changed. And what changed it? A plea from my daughter.
She said, "Mom, please don't hate Dad."
It was like I'd been struck by lightning. I had an epiphany. We can change this, I thought. We can change how we're going to do this and how we're going to behave.
My husband and I talked. We agreed to let the relationship go, but more importantly, we agreed to do it with no bitterness or animosity. We did it as much for our daughter's sake as our own. My husband is my best friend, and part of my grief in this break-up came from my terror at losing him completely. We've been together for 18 years. How could I simply walk away and never speak to him again except for those occasions where I was forced to? I couldn't do it. I could not look at him in such a way. He is the father of my child and the man I've turned to in every aspect of life. I've seen so many (including my own parents) who, years after their divorce, still only speak a few sentences to each other and avoid each other at all costs. I don't want that to be us.
After we talked, a great sense of peace settled over me. I knew we'd made the right decision.
To stop hurting each other.
To not descend into bitterness.
To treat each other with respect.
And in the week since we had that discussion, that's exactly what we've done. In fact, we're getting along better now than before. Perhaps it is because we know we will no longer be hurting each other, arguing, and butting heads, but I think it's more than that. We are not losing each other. We are losing the relationship, yes, but not the bond we share.
I am hopeful we can keep it. We will inevitably move on to other relationships (which will also be hard to deal with), but our goal is to remain good friends with the ability to call each other up or meet for coffee when one of us is going through a rough patch, or even just go catch up on life.
As yesterday was Valentine's Day, I had no hopes of getting flowers or a romantic card. But my husband asked me out for dinner, and we had a very nice time. We were at ease as we talked about the past and the future. We will always love each other. Always.
What did I learn through all this? That holding on to anger and bitterness takes monumental energy. That it creates division where there doesn't need to be. That not only does it affect the two people involved, but everyone around us - especially our daughter.
We are amicably parting. I know that is rarely the case, and even rarer still that ex-spouses stay connected and friends afterwards. Sometimes, it's not possible. Sometimes, it's not even smart (especially in the case of abusive relationships).
But we will try.
And in the end, that's what matters.
I think this quote from C.S. Lewis is appropriate: