i remember watching him go. i was standing on the porch with a baby on my hip and a 4 year old inside the house. he carried a duffle bag full of everything and nothing. every move seemed like it was happening in slow motion. i think i might have waved goodbye.
you can never totally prepare yourself for the aftermath of a break-up. especially when that break-up is a marriage. and especially especially when that break-up includes kids.
at first, it felt familiar that he was away. he’d gone on tour so many times that i had become accustomed to his absence in the house. the first few weeks were relatively normal. we continued to text and email and talk on the phone. it would have been weird to not.
but as time went on and it started to sink in that he wasn’t really ever coming home (in the way he had before), a darkness fell over me. it manifested on the inside and the out.
i lost any ounce of self-esteem i’d managed to hold onto in the remaining months of our relationship. i didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. i thought i looked ugly and broken. i quit social media because my life seemed sad and unhealthy and i had no good news to share. i walked around with a ball of stress in my stomach and i truly believed i had nothing left to offer anyone.
i pushed through the minutes of the day in a calculated and methodical way. every morning was about getting to nighttime.
i had put all of my self-worth into being the other half of someone. i have no idea when i stopped being my own person – and to the outside world and my friends, it probably never seemed like i did – but i did. and maybe it was just a little bit. but it was enough that i had to dig myself back out into the light that was once me.
add to that, i had to learn pretty quickly how to do all of the everything on my own. i’ve always been capable and independent but adding kids to the mix changes things. something simple like putting air into bike tires becomes an extra hassle that you have to add into your day and makes an already exhausted person, even more irritable.
once the bitterness kicked in – hew boy – things got harder. i had to add ‘be angry every minute of the day and make him pay through any means possible’ to my already endless to-do list.
you can see how i was chock a’ block.
i cannot tell you what it felt like to let all of that go. the day i decided to stop being upset was one of the most freeing of my entire life. no exaggeration.
i stopped making it about the anger and the pain (because let’s face it, i wasn’t actually angry or in pain anymore. i was simply just used to being mad) and started to live my life again. all of that name-calling and insult-throwing and finger-pointing is way more about you than it is about them, and the day i realized that, was life-changing.
it’s true that what you put out, is exactly what you get back.
we both started giving again. we gave one another respect, patience, kindness and love. there was a time when i wanted to hoard all of that because i didn’t think he deserved it. i thought i’d spent far too long giving far too much of myself.
but what i know now, is that it’s better to give too much, than nothing at all.
from that moment, we were both freed up to change our individual lives. all of a sudden there was a lot of extra time in the day for things like laughing and smiling and general positivity. you know, once the negativity had cleared out. imagine that.
i was able to acknowledge that other people’s decisions have nothing to do with me, and that alone allowed me to move on and live my own life.
and in the end, we were both able to remember where it all came from. ‘cuz it started from a place of love. we just had to go back there.
perspective shows up in all sorts of ways. like when losing someone can actually help you find yourself.