I was just going over the last three years of posts and I realized that I've been writing a lot of fluff pieces lately, nothing really to do with the guts of post-marital recovery.
I'm still pushing forward. Like the Sophomore theme song says, "We keep marching on..."
Today, I had the honor of meeting the newest character to The Sophomore, a wordsmith who just happens to be a professional writer and editor. And since he is armed like Hephaestus himself with his literary hammer and anvil striking blows on his red-hot keyboard, he gets the pseudonym "Smith." Welcome aboard!
Smith has done me the honor of going over the last three years of posts, from beginning to end, bad punctuation and all...and he says that my writing shows fortitude. I've heard the comment "long-winded" before but never had I experienced a professional writer (with distinguished professional credits to his name out the wazoo) tell me I had a gift for writing and The Sophomore has the potential to be a book because I "write with fortitude." Don't worry friends, I'm not letting it go to my head, we all know that this blog is a severe catch-all, so I'm just going to roll with the flow. But, I am hoping if I beg hard enough, I'll have an editor, which is pretty exciting stuff.
But Smith and I had a nice visit today and we talked about the last three years of me writing about recovering from the institution of marriage. He looked at me and said, "When I read it [the blog] I thought to myself, been there, yep, been there, and been over there too." Like me, Smith has watched as his marriage disintegrated too.
We talked for a while about what we all go through when you are faced with watching what you thought would be a lifetime commitment crumble down around your ankles. It's not fun. It's not anything you ever thought it would be, but Smith told me how I've handled what's happened to me, with the sense of humor I've tackled it with, is pretty unique. I thought to myself, "What other way is there to do it?" We also talked about how men can relate with everything I've written about over the last three years as well...hey look y'all, I might have universal appeal! (To which I thought, "No way!!!! Cool!")
We talked at length about how when marriage ends, what happens to you directly afterwards depends entirely on where you take it mentally. If you take your situation to a dark place, being depressed and wallowing in it, what do you think will happen? You'll be isolated in a very dark place that will ensure that the hill you have to climb, to get over what's happened to you, will be that much higher. Ok, I'll admit it, sometimes it doesn't look like a hill, it looks like a mountain the size of Everest. But, you wake up every morning, you remember to breathe in and out and you take care of business no matter how stressed out you are or how much you hurt because you finally figure out what Marcus Aurelius meant when he said, "It's up to you!"
As much as I hate to say it, when your marriage comes crumbling down and you're sitting in the earthquake damaged house, the only person that can rebuild it is you. You are the one who has to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, the day after that will be better than the day before and so on. To be blunt, you have to believe in YOU. No one is going to come along and rebuild your life for you. Do not let anyone come and sell you a bill of goods that says that recovery will be an easy process because it's not!
Last year, my sister said that when you hit year four after your marriage goes south, you start to feel normal again. I hate to say it, but she's right. Lordy, I did not want my recovery to take four years, but coming up on the year three mark, I have to agree with her.
In year one, what did we find me doing? A lot of lamenting. Then there was more lamenting and whole lot of swearing. Those were the days when f-bombs flew from my fingers like a squadron of B-17 bombers on a carpet bombing mission during World War II, it didn't matter if you were a soldier or a civilian in the war of my marriage, you got hit with an f-bomb. But you know what? That's just fine. If you're in year one, as Michael J. Fox said as Marty McFly in Back to the Future "God damn it George, swear!" Let it out. Don't hold it in. If you hold it in, you're just going to blow up later anyway, and last time I checked, each of us have an unlimited amount of swear words we can use in our lifetimes, so if you're going to develop a temporary case of Tourette's, damn it, let it be in year one.
In year two, you get to discover who you are again. That's right...it's no more Mr. and Mrs., it's just you. Remember when you got married? It was the "three entities living under the same roof" paradigm. And no, I'm not talking about anything supernatural either. The three entities of marriage are the "you", the "me", and the "us." Not a lot of couples really realize that there are three entities that live under the same roof while you're married, but the kicker is that yes, while you're bound by whatever covenant your belief system says, it's also the fact that two unique individuals have decided to become known as a singular entity, "The Us." So, it's three unique individuals in the living space because any married person will tell you, "I love my spouse, but I'm still me." It's the old, "I might be married, but I'm not dead" paradigm when you see an attractive person pass by.
But now that the marriage is over and your ex-spouse and "The Us" have gone on their merry way, you feel it full force. Your life has been turned upside down, and you've incurred more damage than an empty side of the closet and the vacancy on the other side of the bed: you've lost the "Us", and your companion. Now here is where I would usually put my cynical "and your companion that you stupidly trusted all those years." But you're not the stupid one unless you were the one who single-handedly destroyed your marriage. Here's where I remind you, "Hey, it's not all your fault, it takes two to tango, accept what's happened, find the pieces of you that need work, work on them and above all, find the bright side. Listen to me and KP when we say, 'Put down the shoulder yoke and heavy buckets, accept your part in what happened then build a bridge and get over it.'"
Year two is when you look around, realize that you're finally sleeping in the middle of the bed, the closet is just filled with your clothes and you're doing just fine, thank you very much. It's the point where the bathroom vanity doesn't look like it's missing anything because your stuff is just where you like it and no one is coming in and moving stuff around. Year two is when you get to look in the mirror and say, "I'm still sexy" if you haven't had that confidence boost hit you in year one...by year two, you should be feeling it. However, here is where I'm going to tell you that you're still going to have apprehension about getting back out there, the flesh will be willing to get some attention, but the spirit is still a little tattered and torn. Year two is also known as "getting back up onto the horse and finding your own innate nutritional value."
So, here we are, closing in on year three. It's like Smith told me today, "It's all about fortitude" and he's right. Yeah, (excuse the expression) your marriage or long-term relationship went to shit. It happens! Hate to break it to you, but even if it's just now happening to you, you're not alone. Don't be bitter, take solace in the fact that lots of us have been through it and if you reach out to your friends, decide to author a blog or just go out and get hammered, you've started your recovery process and you're going to make it! (Just don't let getting hammered all the time become the norm.) What happens next is up to you and where you decide to take it. I have a strong suspicion that year three is all about guts. Yeah, you've had to use up a lot of that intestinal fortitude to get this far, but what are you waiting for? As Patrick Dennis said in the book (later made into the great film starring Rosalind Russell) Auntie Mame, "Live, live, LIVE! Live is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." So, the question goes to you (and to me for all that goes):
What are you waiting for? Step up to the table and eat your fill!
For those of you who have just begun your recovery, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and believe in yourself, you can do it! Even though the world feels like it has come to an end, it hasn't, you've just embarked on the beginning of a whole new chapter and adventure in your life. You are free to write your own story...what will it contain? From me to you, I hope it's filled with nothing but incredible, uplifting nutritional value.
For those of you who have been in on the journey from the beginning, or in the middle of years one or two and know where I'm coming from, clap and sing along at the top of your lungs...
We're marching on!