Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Softening the rough edges...

Book Seven, verse 33 of The Emperor's Handbook says:
Look at the past with its endless succession of empires, and you see the future.  The two are the same since there is no way of escaping the changeless rhythm of the present.  Study man for forty years or for ten thousand - it's all the same.  What more can you expect to see?
I struggled through Eat Pray Love tonight.  Seems as I still have quite the few rough edges to soften.

From the events today, I can understand why I struggled through the movie tonight. Usually I sit through the film with a concerned ambivalence, meaning, that I'm usually torn about the messages coming at me through the film. I always find something that concerns me about myself but I kind of feel powerless to do anything about it. Doc Cat would probably tell me that feeling like that is normal, but at the same time I have to find a way to get through things in a way that's safe for me; I have to look deep inside and figure out a game plan on how to change the things I don't like and then move on from them.

The biggest thing I don't like at the moment about my life is that I'm conflicted about my ex. Every day I look at the photo of the guy who called me "gorgeous," but I can't quite seem to let go and enjoy just digging on someone without the thought of my ex popping up in my head. I'm not divorced yet, so how on Earth can I pursue a relationship that's worth a darn if I feel held back? The answer is simple, I can't.

Today, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was the ex. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the phone call still has me a bit unbalanced. He and I talked for 45 minutes about where my life is going, what's going to happen with my living situation, health insurance and so forth. Then, I told him about the fact that I've not dated since he walked out the door and the fact that I want to finally get on with my life and be able to date without guilt. I relayed the fact that while he's comfortable basically disgracing me right, left and center with the way he broadcasts his indiscretions, I wasn't someone who could do that kind of thing. Two years ago maybe, but not anymore. My point was that I wanted to finally be free of him. I just want it over. I want to be able to go out on a date without hearing my sister in my head asking me, "He knows you're still married, right?" and being embarrassed and ashamed that I actually like someone. The ex has no problems living with his girlfriend, but here I am unwilling to date or take anything from a man if I would be dating. My Auntie June would call this, "Taking the red road," an old Sioux expression for taking the high road and being above whatever is thrown at you. In the end though, what did I expect to see from him? Did I expect a man who has no moral compass to actually have direction? Who am I kidding? The answer is, I'm kidding myself. It's been nine years, I know how he operates, I should know better.

But, it's time to face facts. At one time, the ex really did love me and I wasted an opportunity to be happy, but I wasn't happy with who I was at the time, so how could I expect things to turn out differently? The truth of the matter is that my broken addict brain was looking for an external fix, ignoring what I needed to tackle first, which was what's inside. Ignoring or not knowing how to be happy with myself is what ultimately lead me to where I am now.

As I said though, it's nine years after the fact. I've taken charge of my personal growth and well, it's time to move on and turn the page, which is exactly what I told the ex today and he was more than accommodating and polite about the situation. I find it surprising, but after a conversation with Nan the other day, she made me realize something, he has moved on and has no regret about it, my distaste for how he's done everything doesn't really matter, the facts are that he's moved on and I feel held back until the papers finally come.

Now we get to the part where I have to do the work. The one thing I thought I wanted more than anything in the world, a divorce, is leaving me confused and conflicted. For the last two years, the ex has been talking me through things, helping in the rougher patches and doing more than he really needed to do to assist me in getting to where I am now. To be honest, he was a better husband in the last two years than he ever was for the first seven. Now, that influence is going away and it leaves me feeling a bit naked. In July, I'll be completely self-sufficient, which is really good, but I'm still scared to walk the tightrope with no safety net. I've been doing it in a way, but up to now, I've always kind of felt the ex's presence in everything, and as you've seen, I've complained about it quite a bit, but still, it's something that was there I could depend on in some small way.

While I was talking to the ex today, I made sure to apologize one more time for being a nightmare wife and I thanked him for everything, and the funny thing was, he didn't return the apology. Yeah, this is where Doc Cat would look at me and say I'm being too lenient again, but I will say this for the ex, he simply replied, "You don't ever need to apologize. I'm not an easy person to live with and I'm not the world's best person to be around." That's as close to an apology as I'll ever see from him, and as a friend of mine would say, "But, he's French." Quebec French or not, that's why I'm just being grateful that he admitted what he did, and I'm just going to observe the miracle and move on.

Which brings us to the rough edges. I'm now understanding why people, when they're the most hurt from their relationships, file for divorce right away. It's basically not even putting on a band-aid after taking a huge gash, they just leave the wound uncovered and they start the healing process right away. I've been wearing a band-aid for the last two years, which has covered the wound and not given it a real chance to breathe and get the air it needs to heal, which is making this a tricky proposition at best. I'm at the point where I have to rip off the band-aid and I'm afraid of the pain that will accompany it.

This is the part where I take my first steps truly by myself.

In July, the process starts on my divorce. The lawyers, the papers going back and forth, and if the ex's first divorce is any indication, he'll be trying to get the process done quickly, quietly and as amicably as possible, which I'm all for. By what Nan says, I should be free by Christmas although if it came through by September, I'd be better off. Nan also says that it's going to hurt and I think I'm pretty much right on target with the band-aid analogy, it's going to hurt to rip it off, but then I hope someday soon I won't feel uneasy about living completely on my own. The hardest part of it all though will be finally telling him goodbye. It's not often that you lose one of your best friends that you share battle scars with, and even though he's a real piece of work, he's helped me a lot, so I always have to be grateful for that.

Talk about complicated situations, huh? All this just because I grew up with the antiquated notion that as a woman, I had to get married, that a man was supposed to take care of me and all of the other ideas about how to live "happily ever after" that are not only ridiculous to tell young girls, but are also a complete fallacy. Cinderella stories, while they are nice and the stepsisters are a great way to show young women how not to be, aren't commonplace. I won't deny the fact that sometimes they do happen, they just don't happen very often.

I just want it all to be over, I want to rip the band-aid off as soon as possible just to get it all over with so that I don't have to think about the ex anymore. Like everything else, it's a process, one I wish I had someone to hold me if I ever need to cry about it, but one where I know I have to be strong for myself, hang on to my dignity and just get through it. 

It's like what Mom always says, "We all have to do things we don't necessarily like to do so we can get on to the things we want to do." I just wish she would have told me that marriage was a similar proposition, that sometimes we come out better on the other side of marriage or long-term relationships than we were when we went into it. Maybe a bit worse for wear, but at least we can say we survived it.

In the end though, I have to believe and know deep in my heart that I'll be okay.  It's time to get on with my life, one that's mine and goes along the game plan I dictate.  I think this will be really good for me, I'm finally getting the opportunity to put the past exactly where it belongs, behind me.

It's time to break out the song of the day that's needed to happen for a while, Amanda Marshall's "I'll Be Okay."

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