I have been in dire straits; I have been trapped between the enemy and hell itself. I have looked into the eyes of men that wanted nothing more than my very own life. I know physical pain and mental anguish and having to make choices for the sole purpose of survival of the greater majority despite risking my own. Now you might think I have cached quite a bit of knowledge, skill and bravery that would serve me appropriately in just about any situation going forward, well I am here to tell you that no matter the experiences a man may live through and the skills he has learned by them, there are still things in this world that will bring him to tears and fear at the drop of a hat.
I was married for 23 years and thought I knew what love was, what it entailed and what my future held, but in a matter of just a few of those years it all came to a fumbling, crashing and immensely sad end. People change throughout life and partners need to be in tune with each other in order to change with one another, otherwise their paths begin to lead away and separate. That’s not to say that their individual lives need always be connected at the hip, we are all different people but keeping connected even when we change though difficult at times is essential. When that doesn’t happen, and you lose sight of each other through the distance between your paths, it may be too late in the day and too hard to find your way back to close that expanse.
When that happened and I found myself waking up one day looking at someone I don’t recognize in the mirror, even though it felt like there was something ugly rotting away inside of me, logically I realized at some point that the pain would eventually subside and I’d be able to move on. But when it involves children things get really convoluted and messy. At that point it’s no longer about you but how you can move forward without destroying the lives and innocence of them. In my case my ex and I decided to base all of our decisions and relationship going forward on the needs of the kids despite sacrificing the marriage.
That is far easier said than done. Severing all emotional communication and sticking to the business aspect of the separation and divorce especially when neither of you is in a financial state that serves either of you appropriately is seemingly impossible. With the taste of bitterness and anger on my tongue and regret and shame in my pocket I tried to push on into the unknown and muddled future. But nearly every day I have to correspond with my ex, these days we text and email which is probably a good thing since for some God forsaken reason hearing a partner’s voice over the phone after 23 years is still hard to swallow. And even though there are valid reasons why we are divorced, reasons I held true to myself and my emotional survival, reasons I would still not change I can’t help but feel all fucked up inside at times when I see her, why is that the case, it hits me now and again like a brick upside the head. Just when I think I have it clear in my mind and I can deal with the interaction for the benefit of the kids, it’s always there to remind me of a love that I cherished for many years and I guess maybe you just can’t rid that from your heart no matter the reasons for its end.
So why can I rely on the training I received as a young soldier even today and my ability to determine danger ahead but when dealing with the fragments of a two decade old relationship I can’t see the impending menace as it circles me? It literally sucks the strength from my middle aged frame right through my pores. It washes through my mind like a creeping fog in a dark forest and I end up pulling shame over me like a thick robe. I get my kids every other weekend, but because I had to take a second job to pay for my own way since my ex gets the majority of my check I still have to work when I have them and on the day they leave they go before I come home from work. I find myself standing at the room in my apartment they have to share crying and feeling like someone just ripped a hole right through me. I enjoy them while they are there and feel devastated when they are away. And it just doesn’t seem to get any better.
It is all reminiscent of when I came back from overseas and I couldn’t complete simple tasks because I didn’t have to do them under fire. Today I make excuses to chat with them over the phone or through text and email, but I always feel like I’m trying to get back to them through a raging storm and I just can’t gain any ground.
I don’t know how much this admition to my blog will make sense to any of you, but I am gambling that there are many men and women soldiers and divorcees that can relate, sometimes I think tossing out a flag to see if we really are the only ones in the boat or not is part of our need to survive and connect. I am still early on in my journey through this, still trying to find my way through the pouring fear and wading through all the thick puddles of embarrassment and humiliation. But like any good soldier I will keep moving forward regardless of the weight of my pack.
Thanks for reading.