I haven’t been writing. Well, that’s not accurate. I haven’t been publishing. I have been writing. Clicking away at the keys to create a million drafts that are only a few paragraphs long, before I abandon them. Succumbing to what I deemed a pressure-induced writers block. But now that I have determined to face that demon, I realize that isn’t the problem. Nor is it a fear that my experience can’t help anyone anymore. That my perspective doesn’t matter. Strip it all down and look at the ugly beast. What stands there?
I was just chatting with one of my favorite people about said emotion. I am not sure I have ever properly learned how to handle it. For the majority of my life it has turned into a tool in my head for self loathing. I was dumb. Stupid. How could I make such a fool of myself? I should have known better. And so on. Unfortunately, what I have come to realize is that if you’re living- really putting yourself out there- you are going to experience embarrassment.
When my ex-husband left, I was thrust into a mindset of survival. I had to keep myself going. Keep my baby fed and cared for. I had to learn how to do all of that through devastation, confusion, and loneliness. To say I was a walking wound for a while is an understatement. But several months in, survival moved to trying to heal. Learn. Better myself.
Now that I am clearly on the backside, I can see that even those moments of growth were still rooted in survival. My therapist told me that divorce was like laying on the operating table, your most horrid lesion exposed. You couldn’t truly start to heal from that until stitches were skillfully administered. The thread of the stitching was the finality of divorce. We hadn’t gotten there yet, but I convinced myself that I was stitched up. That the divorce wouldn’t hit me. That I had gotten through the tough parts. Oh, how naive I was. Laughably so.
She was right. I didn’t detach myself from that operating table for a while. It wasn’t when the ink dried on my divorce papers. Those signatures that wound through my skin were just the sutures. Their sole purpose to hold me together until I could do it myself. I didn’t comprehend what that would take.
I found love again, post divorce. A man that said the most romantic things I have ever heard. One who wove words of understanding and acceptance. The things I desperately needed because I couldn’t provide them for myself.
I fell prey to a very unhealthy situation.
I couldn’t extract myself. That’s maybe not so accurate. I feared extracting myself. I thought I was squandering my last chance at love. I mean, two loves ending- that must mean that the common denominator was me! I was unlovable. Difficult. Broken. It took a while to process that the common denominator was me, but not for those reasons, but the sole fact that I was making these choices with the wrong motivations.
While I was coming to terms with what I thought were my severe limitations as a human- my ex-husband built a new family. Man, that was a tough pill to swallow. A hit to my heart that I internalized in some really emotionally damaging ways.
I parse my words to an exponential degree when writing about my son’s father. Every time I think of discussing him in a public forum, I think of my son. What if he reads my words one day? You see, I do not speak ill of his father to him. Ever. He should love his dad. He should have the freedom and safety to cultivate a relationship with him. I cannot impede that in any way. But then I remember, one day this inquisitive, smart little human being will have the capability to do math. And ask really difficult questions. There is some information I cannot shield him from.
So I will keep everything to my experience. My perspective. I still do not, in any way, wish to throw shade onto the man I once wed.
The evening, many moons ago, that I was unceremoniously served a hand written letter, I asked him a direct question. Being direct is not a weakness of mine. I asked him if he was in love with the woman he had been corresponding with for months. One he had begun to confide in. Disclosures I was no longer privy to. He said no.
In that moment, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that he had lied to my face without hesitation. My suspicion was confirmed three months later when they began dating. Their love story finally able to emerge into the light.
Nearly a year and a half later, I received an email. Ten simple sentences that carried a complicated message. They were having a baby. Moving in together. Moose would have a sibling afterall.
The message I read between those ten lines:
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a family man anymore. Being tethered to you was torture. I needed so badly to get away, that it was worth losing time with my son. “
I crumpled, emotionally. Frankly, because I was seeing all of the decisions made, up to that point, through my own lens of perception. How and why I would do things. The only reason I would give up any amount of time with my son would be if the situation was so severely unhealthy that there was no other choice. So I determined- for a brief time- that my ex felt the same way. That he had to leave Moose because I was so awful.
As I navigated an unhealthy relationship with myself, a man, and my view of my divorce- I began to recede. From writing. From finding joy. Or hope. Overtaken daily by anxiety that made it difficult to take a deep breath.
Embarassment- as I knew it up to that point- bonded itself with a root structure that was impressive. The radix engrained in every facet of my emotional consciousness.
The shame whispered into my ear, creating the aforementioned pressure-induced writers block. Moreover, the steady stream of disillusionment screamed that I was alone. I don’t mean in my life. God bless my tribe. I mean in my experiences. That none of the words I could push forth into the world would be of benefit. No soul would feel a little less alone by ingesting my pondering. The entire purpose behind this little digital platform of mine, erased.
I hit rock bottom. A place I hadn’t seen in a very long time. A place I had vowed I would never get to again. And yet- I stood in that barren land, armed with nothing but a mother’s love that told me something had to give. So I took a giant, scary step. For the sake of myself. For the love of my son. For the example I yearn to be for him.
The most difficult admission of today’s confession? I asked for help. An assistance that I have avoided since my teenage years, when I first visited this desolate landscape. I tearfully strode into my therapist’s office and said that my anxiety was killing me. Uncontrollable on my own. What did she think of medication? I thought that would be the only arduous conversation necessary for the process. I was wrong.
Armed with her written recommendation, I made an appointment with my general practitioner. I tearfully answered his questions- terrified he would deny me the lifeline I so desperately needed. He did no such thing. He really is a marvelous man.
I had one more barrier to scale. Filling that prescription. Admitting defeat- in my mind. Between sobs and wracked breaths, I recounted my feelings- intense self judgement- to my best friend. Fear permeated again. My brain couldn’t determine which fear was more potent- that of judgement for beginning medication or the fact that I had resisted for so long. Could this tiny pill, consumed once a day, have saved my marriage? Spoiler alert- no. I made mistakes. I am human, which precludes me from perfection. An inconvenience I have tried fiercely to adjust. But I did not make his decisions for him. I did not cause my ex-husband to make the decisions he made. I did not cause an emotional intimacy forged outside of our vows.
So why have I word vomited this vulnerability into the world? Mostly, because embarrassment is no good reason to keep from doing something you enjoy. My tiny human has taught me that valuable lesson over and over. God bless his insatiable quest for joy and desire to bring me along for the ride. Also, because maybe that voice in my head is very, very wrong. Maybe somebody needs permission to forgive themselves for an unhealthy relationship. For the “failure” of a relationship thought to last forever. Perhaps, a person out there may read this and gain the courage to ask for the assistance they need. But mostly-
It is said that hindsight is 20/20. Holy hell, I can attest to the truth in that sentiment. Reflection of choices is important for growth. Criticism of said choices- not so much. Forgive yourself. Trust me. But learn.
I have found my equilibrium. Turns out, I dig myself. I am real weird. Quirky, if you will. I have a ridiculously loud laugh. Scratch that- I am just ridiculously loud, thanks to my northern family roots. But I laugh with my entire body. I find joy in quiet moments. I see the world through a unique monocle. I love being a mother. Even the really crummy parts, like holding him when he cries- because I am honored to be his safe place. I may be a weirdo, but I am a fun weirdo. A bit awkward, but amusing.
Now, you know my dirty laundry. And surprise- I am fine! Turns out, you can’t die from embarrassment. Cheers to that.