Even when letting go of the past is near impossible.
A few months after inviting my soon-to-be ex husband to never come home again, and filing for divorce after finding him in the bottle shop with the girlfriend he’d insisted didn’t exist – a good friend of mine sent me an email with this cautionary quote: “Sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun because they missed you the first time.”
Having gone through something similar years before, she was sensing my heart and my head were in a battle and that the initial exhilaration of ending a tumultuous marriage had begun to wane. As I’ve come to discover this past year since filing for divorce, even a good decision can be extremely painful and it’s human nature to want pain to end.
I was warned by professionals from the get-go that this kind of grieving process would not be linear. All those steps from denial (which explains me staying in the marriage for its last decade), to anger, depression, then bargaining, and finally acceptance, would be like the Two-Step, one step forward and two steps back and believe me, there’s been a constant dance between all of my emotions. I would be hard pressed to say which part is the most difficult, though I certainly think being angry is the easiest. (It’s amazing how much you can accomplish fueled on nothing but sheer fury, but who wants to sustain that emotion and think they will be happy?)
No doubt about it though, the bargaining part is the big fat obstacle to moving forward.
The harsh reality of ending an irrevocably broken marriage is that it's all over, literally - the good, the bad, the what-if's; all those balls fall to the ground at once. What I began to feel almost immediately was a void and filling that void continues to be a hard climb, 180 degrees straight up. It's exhausting, so the heart begins to sell you on retreating, "Wow, maybe all of it including him, wasn't that bad."
After those initial weeks, the anger for me turned to depression, nothing but blackness. The fact that someone I had spoken to, been committed to everyday for more than half of my life vanished completely from my life, emotionally, physically, and, in every other way was more devastating than I had ever anticipated. Then inexplicably, just like seeing someone you love go through a painful terminal illness and feeling you won't be able to remember them otherwise, eventually happier times begin seeping back into your heart and head. I missed him, or some long gone version of him, and revealing that vulnerability to him gave him more opportunities to hurt me in ways I could not have imagined.
One of my closest friends, coincidentally going through the exact same thing as me, at the exact same time, had the added pain, besides finding out her husband of 13 years had been a cheating, lying piece of crap, to become the target of his escalating passive-aggressive behaviour.
He attempted every move in the book to control her feelings after she kicked him to the curb. Crushed by the sudden loss of a marriage she thought had been good, she did take him back, twice, and each time it ended in a worse way than the time before. As soon as he would get back into the house and into her bed, he'd sadistically change his mind, as though seeing renewed, more acute pain in her gave him immense pleasure. Bang-bang, right through her heart, until she felt nothing but pieces remained by the time she sat in front of a divorce judge.
Even on that final day, he was still text messaging her asking for another chance. Her biggest regret by far has been realising what all of this has done to her child. Understanding that now, protecting her child gives her unbending resolve when his text messages start-up, as they do almost daily.