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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An open letter to the stranger I married 20 years ago

Just when I think it’s over.  Just when I think you can’t affect me anymore.  Just when I think I’ve moved on, you sunk your claws into me last weekend and dragged me down into depression for three whole days.  That was an amazing feat for only having spent 2 ½ hours in your presence.  Well played.

If anything, it made me look back and realize how immobilized I felt after being married to you for 20 years in that overwhelming cesspool of despair and depression.  If anything, it made me MORE appreciate my time alone in my little condo, away from you, away from the suck that is your life, away from your constant victimhood.  I have had peace for a year, and I can’t put a price on how good that feels.

When we met – and for years after that – I not only loved you, I ADORED you, to the exclusion of myself.  You were fine when that was the game plan.  If I ever wanted to better myself, you ensured I was kept down and didn’t succeed.  When I graduated college with honors, instead of acting proud, you acted surly.  Maybe you knew that meant the beginning of the end of your reign of misery in my life, because I wasn’t that pathetic young girl anymore who “needed” you.  You weren’t willing or able to share in my victories with me.

You see, I outgrew you years ago.  The problem was twofold:  I didn’t realize it, and you emotionally shackled yourself to me like a ball and chain and did everything you could to keep me off balance, doubting myself, and feeling like this was the best I could get.  Add to that the fact that you’re a perpetual victim, so much so that I bet you carry around your own crime scene chalk.  You know, just in case anybody is left unswayed by your constant caterwauling where the topic is always you and always has the adjective “poor” attached to “you.”

Though I’ve never sworn to be a perfect angel (and have, in fact, admitted many faults), I think things really started to unravel for us when I quit adoring you, when I realized you were human, when I quit babying and enabling you.  Not only that, the relationship suffered when I realized that the adoration was only one-sided.  You claimed what drew you to me was that you thought I needed rescuing.  However, when I became stronger, you resented it.  Hell, when I found myself still needing rescuing at times, you resented that as well.  The fact is, you simply resent.  I don’t even think you know what you resent – you just focused on me and felt it HAD to be me.  After watching you at work for nearly half my life, I think you brought your resentment into the marriage and simply attached it to me and to everything and everybody else that mattered to me.

This past weekend, you said you have changed.  After listening to you for 2 ½ hours and how you’re STILL rehashing things from the past 20 years instead of focusing on the year since I left, I realize that nothing at all has changed.  Oh, you feel stronger, more emboldened within yourself these days.  But it’s not growth you feel.  No, what you feel is validated.  You now go to individual and group therapies, and you share your bizarre and twisted version of how things went, and you are now getting your “poor you” fix that you so desperately need like a fish needs water.  I don’t say this out of bitterness – I’ve SEEN you in action, SEEN you take and twist facts and cloak yourself in passive-aggressiveness and color yourself as the wide-eyed victim while coloring me as the bad guy.

The fact is, in the year since I left, I’ve lost 55 pounds and have been making it.  I take care of myself, I have been hanging with friends, and I have even ventured out on a couple dates.  You, on the other hand, have gone from being well-kept to looking like hell.  Your hair is grown past your shoulders, your goatee is 4 inches long and graying, you’ve probably put on 15 pounds, and our house hasn’t been cleaned since I left (not to mention the clutter that has accumulated).  You say how great you’re doing, but as those of us who have been grossly overweight for many years know, the outward manifestation of our inward selves doesn’t lie.  And it’s not just that you’re a walking lie – it’s that you still chose to dump on me last weekend and act as if I was the cause of all your internal grief.  News flash:  I’M NOT.

But your words, for whatever reason, hit me hard during that 2 ½ hours.  Old habits die hard, obviously.  So for three days I took on YOUR pain, YOUR misery, YOUR conflict as my own.  I carried that for you.  Again.  STILL.  You shit all over me, and I just took it.  Not only did I take it, I took to heart some of the things you said.

Then Tuesday came, and God spoke to me.  He literally said to me, as I was driving my car to work, “This man stole your joy for 20 years.  Are you going to let him steal one more moment from you now that you’re in your safe place, your oasis?”  And I replied, “No, I am NOT.”  I’m done.  I’ve been SO peaceful since I left you.  I’m more alone than lonely, and I don’t have to worry what’s in store for me when I get home.  I don’t have to be subjected to cold shoulders, constant criticisms, neurotic behaviors, denial of accountability, or feelings of inadequacy.  Granted, I still need to cleanse my own brain from your pollution from time to time, but since leaving you, the black cloud of confusion and sorrow that was my life has been lifted.

If I ever wondered what I wanted to come of this separation, I have no doubt now.  You’re incapable of loving another person, of being there for them, of being their partner, of being fair, their champion, their friend.  You ONLY think about yourself, and that just doesn’t work for me.  I don’t need you to love me anymore.  I love me.  GOD loves me.  And I’m done with you.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thinking... assessing... realizing...

I'm coming up on a year since I left my husband.  I remember that around this time last year, I was actively planning my departure, though I don't remember when, exactly, I told him I would be moving out.  But if I had to venture a guess, I'd say it's right about a year ago, with my leaving occurring at the end of March.

I remember how scared I was to make that move, but I had been too scared to do it for years.  But last year... last year, I more mad and fed up than I was scared, and that's what propelled me forward.  I got to the point where I'd rather live in a cardboard box under a bridge than to put up with one more minute of his negativity and criticism.

So, now I've had a year to reflect.  And in that year, I've lost 55 pounds, done well by myself, and felt a sense of freedom I haven't felt in far too long.  And in that same year, he's gained weight, hasn't cut his hair and is growing out his goatee to a disgusting length, and hasn't cleaned the house I had turned into a veritable showplace.  And he's become even more of a hermit than he already was.

What I have to share here in NO way is meant to say that I'm an angel and he's a devil.  It's not about that.  But at the same time, I have to look at the dynamic that was our relationship and how that relationship affected me, my mental health, and my physical health.

When I met him, I was CRAZY about him.  I actually can say I loved him more than I loved myself.  I loved him to a fault.  I loved him so much that when I started to see the REAL him, I internalized it and believed that I had done something to make him change.  I was the reason he was becoming sullen.  I was the reason he didn't spend time with me or have anything to do with him.  I lived in this bad place for many years, trying to figure out what "I did wrong" to make him change.  I think he liked me in that place to some degree, because it took the focus off him and what HE was doing wrong.

However, during that time, I gained weight.  A LOT of weight.  At my highest, I had nearly doubled in size from what I was when we met.  And, for obvious reasons, that caused me and us even more problems.  I felt even worse about myself.  I blamed my weight for the reasons he didn't have anything to do with me.  I beat myself up further and punished myself for being a loser.  It was a vicious cycle that was completely unhealthy and emotionally devastating.

Then I woke up.  I realized that it wasn't all me.  Hell, much of it was him, and much of my bad behaviors -- towards him and towards myself with food and self-loathing -- were coping mechanisms I had adopted to deal with his negativity.  Much of what I had become was a direct result of what he was.  He's a miserable person who doesn't realize his misery is internal and something he brought into the marriage as opposed to being my fault.

However, my waking up was not a good thing for him.  My waking up meant that he could no longer hide behind the facade of everything being my fault.  Now he's alone.  If he's still miserable, who can he blame but himself?  And how easy is that to do after blaming me for 20+ years?

Though I don't spend my days ruminating over this anymore, I do have the rare time when I think about how things went down -- if only to try to figure my own life out.  Add to that a few friends I have who have great relationships, and my heart twinges with a bit of pain, wondering what my life would have been like had I had that kind of love, caring, support, and uplifting during all this time.  Again, I don't exert too much time thinking like that because there's no way to request a redo.  I made my choices, and I paid for them.  Now, all I can do is learn from them.

Anyway, I feel as if I'm rambling now.  All I'm trying to get across is that I feel as if I broke a spell of sorts by walking away from the destructiveness that is negativity, criticism, and bitterness.  And since doing so, I'm starting to learn how to love myself and realize my own value.  I no longer need to seek that from an outside source, nor do I need to "medicate" myself with food to fill the void that my marriage left.

It's amazing what a year can do.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It must be February...

... because my complex gym was near empty again.

Wow, I thought people gave up on their resolutions by late February.  Maybe March.  But the FIRST WEEK?  Really?

Not that I've been there in more than a week -- between working out in my condo and a little bit of my own slacking, I don't even remember the last time I was there.  But I can tell you that when I was, there were about eight or nine folks there.  Tonight, there were only about four of us at any given time.

This is why I don't really go for the whole "resolutions" thing.  Too easy to break.  Now, if only I would stop half-assing it.  Weekends are becoming my problem lately, so I need to focus on that.  That, and not consistently exercising the 5 to 6 days a week I was in later 2013.  I've been at a weight standstill for a couple months now (well, I say standstill because I wasn't counting upward when I gained a three pounds over the holidays or when I gain a pound after a weekend of bad food choices), and I'm ready to start being true to myself again and following through with my eating and exercise plan.  Otherwise, I'm just wasting time to stay at 190.