I am not a bad person. I know that. People who know me know that. At least, they should. The only thing I am guilty of is loving someone so much that their leaving has hurt me immensely. The only thing I want now is to understand the pain, so I can move past it.
Love is a funny thing. It can be wondrous and joyful, and even magical. It holds the promise of your future and a lifetime of happiness. But, at the same time, it can leave you wracked with pain, and an imagined future and life shattered into a million pieces. And it can be nobody’s fault.
I loved someone with everything I could muster. I loved her to the depths of my soul, and she loved me. But, in the end, that wasn’t enough, and I don’t know why. I struggle to understand it and to move on. I struggle to make sense of all that has happened in the last 14 months, and how everything went so terribly, terribly wrong. We were supposed to have the fairytale romance, the fairytale life – everything pointed to that. We had fallen in love during a show without even realizing it, and, when we finally did, found that people around us had been wondering how long it would take us to figure it out. Someone told us that when they heard us talking, it was as if we had our own language. We were that cute couple, somehow. We had a story that made people smile, and I felt as if I had suddenly found what had been missing from my life.
When we had first moved in together, we lived in a condo, and, when I parked my car in the underground parking, I would always text her, “I am sort of home”. I think of that every time I park my car in the parking lot of my building now. Every now and then, we’d play a game of punch-buggy via text. She usually won. I think she cheated. She made me laugh. She made me smile. She made me happier than I had ever been. I loved sharing little things with her – no matter how innocuous or unimportant they were. She was always the first person I texted about anything – the first person I ever wanted to text. It could be something small, or something silly. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to share everything with her.
When we married, I knew I was with the woman who would be sharing a lifetime with me. I knew it as clearly and completely as I knew 2 +2 = 4. I was happy. I loved her and I loved her family. I finally knew what people meant when they said they felt complete. And I couldn’t have loved her more. There were many times at work I found myself staring at a picture of us, and frequently, I would watch the video of our engagement. I knew she was my forever.
But it all came crashing down, and seemingly so suddenly. I had fallen ill with deep depression and severe anxiety, and, as they both worsened, had an increasingly more difficult time communicating and even being the person I once was. Finding joy in things was difficult. It robbed me of who I was, and it robbed her of me. I still loved her, and I still tried my best to convey that. I’m not going into all that happened, as I have discussed that before, but, suffice it to say, my life was not the same.
In the last year, we have rarely been on the same page, and I have struggled to have her understand what I am trying to convey. In fact, the messages going back and forth between us have been so garbled and/or misunderstood that it has created distrust, anger and fear. It was suddenly as if we were speaking different languages. There have been things said and done that have hurt us both and have caused great divides. In the end, though, I always believed we would fix things. I always believed that because I loved her so completely. I always thought that we would both wake up one day and decide that we would do whatever we needed to do, together, to fix things. I believed we would still get our happily ever after, because nothing else made sense. There was no one else who I wanted or could even imagine being in my life. She was still my love. That never changed. She was still the one I wanted, the one for whom I would do anything.
So, when she told me we were through and that she had met someone else, I felt like the roof caved in on me. I didn’t fear succumbing to my depression or anxiety again, because I have learned so well how to handle those, but I was acutely aware of how devastated I was. I wasn’t ready to give up. I wasn’t ready to move on. I still wanted her to be my wife. I still loved her as much as I did the day I married her. Our separation, as long as it had dragged on, hadn’t changed that. I couldn’t believe this was the end. But it was the end. Our marriage really was over, and that became clearer with every interaction.
I now had to, for the first time, really, grieve the death of my marriage. I had to grieve the loss of all my hopes and dreams for us. I had to grieve losing the person I thought was my forever. I also had to grieve losing her family, whom I loved dearly. I tried communicating this to her, but I obviously didn’t do it well. I tried to tell her that I didn’t want to give up, that I wanted to try to save us, because I still loved her, and because we have two children together. (Those two children, and knowing what was ahead for them, are a huge part of my grief as well. I have been a separated parent. It sucks. I have seen the effects of it on a child, especially when the parents struggle to get along, and that sucks even more. I didn’t want that for my kids. They don’t deserve that). And as I continued to try to be the best father I could be, my actions were now interpreted as things I had never intended. Things I would never deliberately do.
When I say I was grieving the death of my marriage, that is not an exaggeration. A marriage is an entity unto itself. It lives and breathes. And it dies. And when it dies, you grieve its loss. Anyone who understands grief knows that there are several stages – denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. Well, I have been going through all of those, just as I went through them when my father passed away. And the thing is that, unless the other person is feeling these same things, they may not react the way you want them to, they may not understand what you are saying or doing, and they may misinterpret your intentions, no matter how benign and peaceful you intend them to be.
The anger is the hardest stage, because you don’t want to give up, and you don’t want to be alone, and your anger and upset sometimes makes you feel as if you don’t want the other person to be happy with anyone other than you. You sometimes say things that you don’t really mean because of how deep the hurt goes inside you. You don’t understand, and the immense pain you feel is, in your mind, the fault of that other person. That doesn’t mean you stop loving them, or that you wish bad things for them. It just means you want them to understand how hurt you are. You want them to feel sad that you are so hurt. You want them to just say they are sorry for the pain.
But, in the end, comes the acceptance. And I have accepted it. I know my marriage is over. It doesn’t make the hurt go away, and it doesn’t make me magically okay. It hurts. Deeply. I lost someone and something I thought I could and would never lose. And I didn’t lose it because I am a horrible person. I lost it because my illnesses were too much to get past. Because, even though I am so much better, she couldn’t see beyond that. She only remembered the me she had left – the me that was completely unlike the me she had fallen in love with. She only remembered the shell I was for far too long, not the man I was, and she couldn’t see that I am now so much more the man she loved than the man who was admitted to hospital. She saw everything I said and did as a manifestation of my illnesses, even when they weren’t. But, I could also only see the woman who had hurt me. I could only see someone who didn’t see what she had done as wrong, because, in her mind, she was acting in her own best interests. I only saw the cold exterior, the protective barrier she had put up that I could not break through. I did not see the woman who stood in front of me on that stage as I asked her to marry me.
Although I accept it, I still don’t understand it. I still don’t get how two people who were so much in love could end up like this. I still don’t understand how she could be ready to say that it was over when I still couldn’t imagine it. I don’t understand how she could misconstrue my actions and words and deeds so badly that she could ever think that I was someone I have never been and never could be. I don’t understand how she could come to believe I was capable of things so completely foreign to my nature. I don’t understand how I could not convince her that I am not the person she seems to think I am.
I am not a bad person. I am not someone who would do anything to hurt anyone, physically, emotionally or mentally. I am not someone who would wish anything but the best for someone, no matter how much they have hurt me. People who know me know that. In the end, I just want us and our children to all be happy. And all I am truly guilty of is being emotionally vulnerable and deeply hurt by an event that I never imagined would happen. I’m guilty of having loved someone so deeply that I feel like I have lost a part of me, and I’m guilty of not understanding all of it.
I am not a bad person, and if you’ve ever known me, you really should know that.