Monday, June 19, 2017

The Power of Journaling

I've kept a journal since I got out of college. I honestly don't know what I would do without it. On those blank pages, I record the day's activities, comment on national and international events, and most importantly, pour my heart out. It's a place for me to take stock of my life and try to figure out why things happen and how I can work through them.

When my marriage broke up, I was journaling every single day. I filled up an entire journal within a month and a half, and will probably fill a second one in that same amount of time. Last night I wrote pages and pages.

And you know what? It has directly contributed to my healing process. I've been able to look deep into my psyche and make connections that I hadn't thought of before. In last night's writing session, I realized that I had been the rock in my marriage, the responsible one, the adult (I used to joke that I had four kids instead of three!), but that all the manipulation, deceit, lies, and emotional abuse had started to seep into my life, creating tiny cracks deep inside not noticable on the surface, but that were doing major damage to my soul.

And now? Those cracks are healing, filling in with strength and courage and growth. I am no longer the rock in my marriage, trying to hold it together and putting my best foot forward to keep it intact. Now I am the rock for me. I am the rock for my daughter. And that is all. I no longer have to be responsible for my ex's actions, no longer have to worry how his actions will reflect on me and my marriage. He is free to make his own choices and suffer the consequences. I no longer have to participate, no longer have to defend him, no longer have to suffer.

Without journaling, I don't think I would have come to that conclusion. And it is a very powerful realization, one that can free me in ways I'd not imagined before, and lead me to finally letting go of him and my marriage. The ability to be introspective, to delve underneath the layers of the superficial, is imperative to my healing journey, and journaling has made it possible.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't Live There

The night my divorce was final, I had another bombshell dropped on me: the ex and the woman he cheated on me with are moving in together. The pain was excruciating, and for the next few days, I felt like the wound had been torn open again. 

Throughout this ordeal, I've sought various ways to cope, and one of those is pinning quotes and sayings on Pinterest. It's made me realize that I'm not alone in this, that others have gone through this before and survived. I will survive, too. But I felt like I took another giant step back in my healing process with this new development. And honestly? How could I not? To be discarded so easily and so completely by a man I was married to for 18 years is horrific. 

Soon, I found myself feeling rage and bitterness again, feelings I thought I'd worked through already. Obviously not! Thanks to some very good friends, prayer,  and my therapist, I feel better. Oh, and writing. Did I neglect to mention that? I have filled my journals with so many words in the past few months...SO SO many words. That's who I am, and that's how I cope - through writing.

I also joined a support group for those who've undergone the same thing I have (survivors of narcissistic abuse) and it's a great comfort to find understanding through others. 

But today I discovered that if I wasn't careful, I could very easily live right where I am for a long time. In other words, instead of moving forward, I would remain right here, stagnant, unwilling to grow or change or learn, and feeding off of bitterness and anger and revenge. When you are surrounded by people who are all feeling the same way, it becomes all too easy to absorb the negativity. 

Now please understand, support groups are invaluable. I was able to learn a lot about narcissists and how they operate, their patterns, their traits, and that I was far, far from alone when it came to being treated the way I was. That was a balm to my soul.

But I also realized that there is a time for support groups, and then there is a time to leave those groups. I don't want to recycle the same drama I've been through over and over again. I want to learn from it, process all the feelings, understand it, and then move forward and grow. There comes a time when you need to leave the past behind instead of live in it.

There's a quote I found on Pinterest that means a lot to me now:

I've had several meltdowns in the past five months. But that's okay. I know I'm doing better. I know that six months from now, I'll be in a great place. This whole ordeal has taught me a lot, one of those being patience. I want to just not care what the ex does with his life now. But unlike him, I can't shut the door on 18 years of marriage by snapping my fingers. But some day? I'll not be so bound to him, and though I'm sure I'll always have a tiny spot in my heart for him, it will never be like it was when we were married. And that is how it should be.

I'm going to be just fine. I'm excited about my future and all the possibilities that were only dreams before. Hard days remain ahead, but I'll get through them. I refuse to give up. I've been set free!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

My Personal D-Day

This morning, I wore a black dress splashed with bright flowers. The black symbolized the death of my marriage, but the bursts of color represented hope and happiness for the future.

As I walked to the courthouse with my lawyer, we talked of today being the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. I said, "This is my own personal D-Day. Liberation from this marriage."

A marriage born from second chances, of hope and happiness.

A marriage killed by infidelity, lies, and betrayal.

My ex did not show up at the court proceedings. I didn't expect him to face what he'd done in a court of law.

My lawyer asked me to verify that the signatures on the divorce document were mine. "Yes."

"And do you know your husband's signature? Is that his signature?"

I stared at the familiar scrawl, and tears clogged my throat and stung my eyes. "Yes."

"Is your marriage irretrievably broken?"

A firm answer on my part. "YES."

And it was soon over. I walked back to my car, and once safely within its confines, I lost it. I cried and thought of how you say goodbye to 18 years with someone, how one sentence from the judge dissolves it, how the ex didn't care that it was over. I cursed him for doing this to me, for shattering my heart into thousands of pieces.

I bought myself a donut because I deserved one, darn it, and came home. A migraine began to creep over my skull and I took a pill, then popped The Longest Day into my DVD player, the movie about the Normandy invasion.

Today is my own personal D-Day. I am liberated from a marriage destroyed by infidelity, and I will emerge from this stronger than ever. I am not broken. I am a survivor.

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