Long, hard look

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You may or may not know of my current situation, but I am almost a year into my marital separation. It's amicable, but that doesn't make things easy. We just went to court for the final hearing, and now we wait for the decree in the mail.

I sit here baffled that our almost 15 year relationship is ending. Throughout this divorce journey, I have had to face more of my demons than ever before. Facing those demons isn’t easy, but it has always been worth it.

After the hearing, my ex and I went to eat and discussed the ups and downs of the marriage, sharing some more pain from the past and hope for the future. We both had moments of emotion, but mostly there was an air of uncertainty as we awkwardly navigated our budding new normal.

It was extremely difficult to sit across the table from him as he shared his new life. A life without me. A life where my opinion doesn’t count, or at least doesn’t have to count. A life where I let go and let him be him in a way I was never capable during our marriage.

We were 22 and 23 when we married and we were still those ages when we had Kiddo who is now fourteen. We barely knew ourselves and knew each other even less.

Life without each other is a brief moment compared to life with each other. I have more years of memory in a family with my ex than I have years of conscious memories in my family life growing up. Whether we were best for each other or not, that’s a lot of time to spend with someone.

As I drove to pick up my son to spend the night with me, I thought about the conversations between my ex and me over the last year. I thought about the times in my marriage I dug in deep to be everything to everyone and the times I skated. I am and always have been imperfect and have always struggled with my imperfection.

Fortunately, during this twenty-five minute ride, I experienced a new tape being played in my head. Not one of accepting imperfection, rather one of “I gave it my all, damn it!”

The pain I had experienced as my ex told me of the things he was now doing which I begged him to do for years, began to turn to strength. I suddenly felt empowered. I began saying aloud, “I was worth it. I AM worth it.” 

I know it sounds unlikely, but the change felt instant. Suddenly I felt an emotional healing that physically lifted my posture, strengthen my spirit, and softened my heart. In the blink of an eye driving north on the 163, my usual self-talk tapes of defeat, failure and guilt turned to strength, power, and love...for me.

I didn’t know what to do with the feelings or how to process the information that changed so suddenly, so I decided to drive to work to do a couple of things to gather my thoughts. As the thoughts gathered, I realized the only way for me to solidify this tape change was to share this with my ex.

I drove to pick up my son, and when I arrived, I asked him to go to the car so I could talk to Dad. When my son was out of ear shot, I told my ex that I had to share something important for my own sense of closure. I said, “I hurt because you wouldn’t do the things I was asking for and now that I am gone, you are. I am happy for you, but I hurt because I am worth it. I am worth the work and I always was. I am worth it, and I need you to know that. Its not all your fault. I didn’t know I was worth it, so I didn’t ask for it. But I am and was worth it.”

He apologized, I cried, we hugged, and I left. No grandeur.

When I got in the car to take my son and his friend home, we chatted and laughed a bit. Nothing like two teenage boys to provide some comic relief from the heaviness of the day. I am and will forever be grateful my ex and I had that moment together, and I am grateful it was brief. 

Since we have been back home, I have been trying to write this blog. I want to write it because it is a hugely defining moment in my life that I believe needs to be shared, but I also want to be careful not to vilify my ex or expose the intimacies of our situation.

Since writing this blog (and I have been doing it for at least two hours), I realized something more important than finally believing I am worth it…In case that wasn’t enough…

I realized that I have waited my whole life for someone to show me I am worth it, but I have never tried to treat myself with that same respect. I have constantly measured my worth and value by the yard stick others use for my life. That's not how I want to live any longer. 

This divorce has taught me so much about me. The more I am willing to take long hard looks in the mirror, the more I can confront. The more I confront, the more beauty and depth I see in the woman before me. I’m elated and terrified that this is just the beginning…