|Photo Credit: r.h. Sin as seen on Pinterest.|
I was eight months into my marriage when our love caught fire and I watched us fade into ash with it. After five years of being together, and two years of bickering and fighting to be heard, my ex and I were no more. It was a tumultuous ride and once the ash settled, I was ready to start over with a hopeful perspective.
At first, it was a difficult truth to accept. You spend – invest – five or six years of your life, agree to take the next “big” step with them and then it crashes and burns. I remember the moment the end of my marriage became apparent. After a three-month separation, we decided to meet and discuss the future of our relationship. We were an hour into our conversation when he said, “I thought being apart from one another would knock sense into you.”
The comment makes me cringe to this day. I will agree with his sentiment that I am partly to blame for the demise of our relationship. I am. It takes two people to be in a relationship, and two people to destroy that relationship. However, the “knock sense into you” remark came after he spouted off a list of unrealistic demands of how I was to conform to his vision of marriage and how things were going to work. I was not going to agree to compromise the integrity of who I was to be who his family wanted me to be to keep them happy.
Our divorce lasted longer than our marriage, but when the emotional and psychological trauma I experienced was over I was ready to inhale the smoggy L.A. air with no constraints and laugh again. My work life was great and after two years of taking time to heal and work on myself, my therapist thought it was a good idea to start dating again. After hesitating, I took the advice and started to dip my toes in the dating pool.
|Photo Credit: Mari Rey Originals.|
As the one-year anniversary of my divorce approached, I remember feeling a little sentimental. It was hard to believe that I was married, divorced, and was considering dating again – all in a two-year span. I had initially taken the first year, post separation, to work on myself and go back to therapy. Dating was the furthest thing from my mind, and I typically always took breaks in between relationships to make sure I was not rebounding too quickly. I wanted to process the ending of my past relationships, and my marriage was no different.
I was caught off guard when my ex-father-in-law called me in early August 2019. My heart sank when I saw his number on my screen. I thought something had happened to my ex, so I returned his call the first chance I got. To my surprise, he was calling to check in and tell me that he appreciated me. He had recently been thinking about me and wanted to share his thought with me. I was taken aback and did not know what to say other than thank you, but the more I thought about it, the more I became upset.
A part of me was happily surprised, but the other part of me was angry. Angry that he would call to disrupt my life to share his recent revelation. Angry that his lack of appreciation for me while I was dating and married to his son caused conflict, along with his wife’s racist microaggressions towards me. It was hard to be two years post-divorce and hear the words that my ex needed to hear instead of the shared opinions of how I did not fit into their family ideology. My former father-in-law once told me that I needed to be more like his wife and “be a sitting duck” to which I responded, “Sitting ducks get shot.”
In reading my journal entry, I do not see anger reflected in those pages. I see hurt. As I have mentioned in other posts, I used to use anger to mask my hurt feelings. It was how I learned to express pain. I used anger as a shield to protect myself from pain, but there was no protecting myself from the pain I suffered at the hands of his son, and by his family.
Through therapy, I have made noteworthy progress in addressing the pieces of pain that I have carried for decades. I have unpacked and untangled myself from the hurt that I was using to fuel a rage that was never of any service to me. It was this pain that relentlessly surfaced when each lie slowly revealed itself. I could not get past the dishonesty and disregard for my life. It was my disdain for his lies that let my pain linger. There are times I wish I had been strong and ended things sooner. It would have saved us both pain and trauma.
The act of shielding myself with anger as armor is no longer necessary. I am learning new methods to identify my emotions and respond accordingly. It has been, what feels like a never-ending journey in reconditioning myself to process my feelings in a healthy way. Although it is not perfect, I revel in the growth and have learned to be compassionate with myself, which in turn has made me more empathetic towards others.
I continue to surprise myself while reading my journals. There is a significant amount of pain confined in those pages and I feel heartbroken for the girl that wrote those passages. My veins pulse and my temples throb when I reflect on the snapshots I captured. It has been a long road to recovery and healing. While on this journey, I have allowed myself to process my emotions thoroughly and cry. I have been subjected to so much trauma that I did not always have a choice in disengaging. It is those moments that changed who I was and affect me to this day. In ending this post, I will share that allowing myself to feel without judgment or criticism for myself is truly liberating. It is the best gift that I can give myself.