In 2014 I’m continuing the trend of living out loud. This is by far the most difficult topic I have ever written about and, yet, I feel it is of vital importance to continue down the road of being vulnerable and human. This first month of January, I’m sharing with you a little slice of me.
I’m at a stage in life where marriages are separating all around me. Failing due to infidelities, addictions, lack of connections, too much stress, unkindness, and simple growing aparts.
I’ve learned to never judge a person’s marriage. To never judge why some stay in relationships that seem toxic and never judging why some leave. I don’t judge people who choose to have open marriages, monogamish marriages, polyamorous marriages, sexless marriages, intimate marriages, surface marriages, or any other form of committed coupledom. I think it takes great strength to travel any road of commitment no matter how that commitment is defined.
I’ve always prided myself on my marriage. It’s one of the things I have done best in life. It’s the relationship that I have put above all others. I have believed that if I could keep my marriage happy then my boys would have a stable and happy life. Something I always longed for as a child. I have known that the odds were stacked against us. We married too young, we have special needs children, we have multiples, we have lost our financial stability, we’ve experienced a large amount of moves this past year, we left our religion, etc etc. Yes, the odds are not in our favor and never have been. No matter, I’m cut out for challenges. Adam is too. I didn’t worry about my marriage because I knew we were made for each other. I knew that we have always been passionate about one another and that we could laugh, even in the face of adversity. We had always been there for the other and there would not be a trial large enough to tear down the bond we so solidly built.
New Year’s Eve 2013 I heard the words I never truly imagined would leave the lips of my husband.
I want a separation or divorce. This relationship is not working for me.
As horrible as it is to admit, my entire world crumbled. The immediate realization that I had done everything I could to love this man and keep my family together and still I was not enough. The gut punch knowledge that I will at best see my boys part-time. The fear of how I will support myself. I have invested everything in to his career. He can make money. I cannot. The raging jealousy that he will move on and I will have to deal with new women. New lovers. Eventually another mom to my boys. The loneliness in knowing that my support system is thousands of miles away. I will suffer alone. The earth literally began to crumble and swallow me up. A pain like no pain I’ve ever experienced took an instant hold. Anger set in. How could he do this to me? To us? It was almost worse that he was not leaving for another woman. No, I simply was just not right for him anymore. Pain.
But in all honesty, I had been working up the courage to talk with him about divorcing as well. I had just texted a friend a few hours prior to this and told her that all I could think about was divorce and that I was tired of suffering. A few weeks prior to that I had chatted with another friend about my fear of leaving but the desire to get out of this toxicity. Adam had only said the words that I was too scared to say myself. He was brave enough to take the steps to end his suffering. I was not.
I don’t know where we took a misstep. Where we lost our way. Or if we even did. I know that once we left religion, our marriage was in the midst of being redefined and that negotiation was often tragic, volatile, and drenched in fear. I know that life was brutal this past year and so much change and suffering occurred. I know that I was fighting to keep my family together and kept hoping that Adam would come back to me once he surfaced from his pain. Sadly, he didn’t. He tried. But Adam was a new person. And I didn’t fit in his new identity. Pain.
I didn’t come back the same either. And Adam didn’t fit in my new identity either. Pain.
I don’t want my marriage to end. I can’t even begin to imagine sitting my boys down and telling them that mom and dad are no longer going to be living in the same house. It will break their hearts and play a role in defining who they become and what baggage they will carry into adulthood. They will cry and blame themselves. They will experience deep heartache and they too have suffered enough this year. Now, once more, they will suffer at the hands of me and Adam. Pain.
So much pain that my body can no longer tolerate it. My stomach begins to empty itself and will continue to do so for the next 24 hours. I cannot digest the words separation, divorce, boys part-time, our marriage is not working. I cannot digest the idea of losing 20 years of a beautiful love. I cannot digest this future. Pain.
We spent most of NYE and in to New Year’s Day discussing strategies for best moving forward. What’s best for the boys? What’s best for us? Where are we going to live? How is this going to work? What’s missing in our marriage? What’s not working? What is working? Why are we giving up when there’s far more positive than negative?
Surprisingly, we land where neither of us expect to land. We land on this idea that we can just start over with each other. Begin again as new people. People without history. Clean slates. I don’t know if this is possible but I’m willing to give just about anything a solid try. Because I love Adam. Because I love my family. I am IN love with Adam. I love my family of 6 and our nights all snuggled up watching a movie, dinners around the dining table, or the 6 of us crammed in our RV experiencing life. I enjoy being here together. All of us.
So we agree. Starting over makes the most sense for now. There’s too much good. The truth is, I don’t know Adam anymore. And he does not know me. I want to know him. I want him to know me. I have a feeling we’d really like each other. Sadly, our judgements of each other have clouded our vision and amplified our triggered reactions. We have lost sight of ourselves and our partner.
We are starting at square one (as much as that is possible). Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a mom to four beautiful boys. I love the outdoors. I want to own a farm. I love big and give my all. I’m a vet tech and freelance writer. I’m a skeptic. I am an amateur marathon runner. I love to travel. I am a professional nap taker. I like to receive gifts, love notes, and romance. I love clothes, tattoos, and body jewelry. I’m an iced tea junkie. But most of all, I’m a mom and I want a partner.
You know, all that first date kind of getting to know each other. That’s where we are starting. No assumptions. Instead an unlearning. An awareness. An awakening to what has been standing right beside us this entire time and we have missed because our box of relational negativity was maxed out.
Here we are a little over two weeks in to this experiment of starting over and I have to admit that I have a bit of hope.
Losing Adam was my worst fear and I did everything in my control to keep him from ever wanting to leave and all that controlling only drove him away. Smothered him. I learned that I cannot control anything other than myself. Sometimes even that is beyond my capability. I’ve learned that nothing can be promised for eternity. I’ve learned that change is inevitable. I can control nothing. Nothing. I’ve been humbled and seen the errors of my ways. I have not been the perfect wife I imagined myself to be. I do have areas to work on. One of those is letting go of control. Control has gained me nothing and it’s time to let it go. I’ve lost Adam once now and so it’s easier to free him. I may not agree with all his choices or opinions and that’s completely okay. I am now in the midst of drawing up my boundaries and deal breakers for this new relationship. Something I was too scared to do before. I’ve turned my focus from Adam to me. He’s not here to meet my needs and it’s unfair to expect him to. And vice versa. I am not enough for him and that’s okay.
We are redefining our roles. Resetting expectations. Voicing our opinions instead of burying them. Living with complete integrity. We are building a home that is full of love and acceptance. It’s a process. A process that requires extensive amounts of grace and patience. Both of which I’m willing to give. To myself. To Adam. To the relationship.
Adam has been a gift to me and to my boys. He has loved me and remained faithful to me for 20 years. He has encouraged me to grow and to question. He has challenged me in areas that I would have preferred to remain stagnant. He has been my friend. My confidant. My lover.
He has been the best father my boys could ever ask for. He is a dad above all other dads. Truly.
Is he flawed? Absolutely. But not in a way that requires me to move on.
Things are not perfect. They are at times overwhelmingly challenging but I believe this marriage and this family is worth the effort.
In this moment, I feel hopeful. I don’t know if we’ll have a fairy tale ending. But for the first time, I’m not worried about tomorrow. I’ve let go of the past. I’m living this moment. And this moment is my happily ever after.