1/7/17

Ex-ual Healing



One would assume that ten years post-divorce every wound would be healed. Each hurt feeling would be long-tended and recovered. All those damages wrought by the jagged shards of shattered trust, imploding self esteem and broken vows...nothing but scars and memories now.

One would assume that, yes. And one would be kind of-sort of right. At least in my case.

As alike as our divorces and the series of unfortunate events that led up to them may be, we are still all unique. That goes for how we recover from our divorces, as well. Some of us are truly able to shed that skin like a snake, leave the husk behind and get on with gettin on. Some of us simply patched up as best we could, enough to blend in, enough to get through the days without sticking out too much. Regardless of our rate of healing, I think we all do it eventually but just like any other trauma, it does leave a mark. Maybe that mark is the self-doubt you feel when you look in the mirror. Maybe it's the "what if" game you play every once in a while.

For me, the mark is my gut. No, not the front-butt that has hung out on my belly since all those c-sections...like the divorce, I've come to terms with that too. The gut thing for me is that "pang". Are you familiar with it? It's the invisible fist that gets you right in the stomach, when faced with reminders of your past. At first, those fists are huge and powerful. The pang can take your breath away then, can bring tears to your eyes and cause you to recoil in physical pain.

After a while, the pang mellows. Oh, it's still there but over the days and months and years it becomes less fisty- more like a poke than a punch.

These are the divorce healing pangs, my friends. And they never end. They just get quieter, harder to feel and see. But I think it's important that we still acknowledge them, and give ourselves credit where it's due.

My latest milestone? It was something so silly I'm almost embarrassed to share it with you. I'm going to, of course, but still...it's with a little hesitation.

So, my ex mother in law. I LOVE HER. This isn't a bash against her, not one bit. I miss her and other family members so much. Way more than I ever missed her stepson. Yes, she's his step mom. His "real" mom, meh. She was great while we were married, afterwards, not so much. It's become a running joke in our house that she's still trying to kill me by sending chocolate chip cookies loaded with walnuts home with the kids at Christmastime every year.

The other mom, though? To quote Tupac, "nothin but love". To this day she continues to keep in touch, along with some sisters-in-law. They have been an integral part of my healing and I am forever grateful to them. When you've been rejected, wholly and completely by someone, it can be a lifesaver to know you're still worth enough to keep the lines of communication open.

Every year, right before Christmas, they have a big brunch at their country club. A holiday/December birthday celebration. I used to attend back in the olden days, and my kids continue to do so. This year, apparently, there was a photographer there to capture the fun. My mother in law sent me a link to the pics, because that's what kind people do. "Hey, your babies are in these pictures...thought you'd like to see them!" is what I imagine she was thinking.

I clicked on the link. And there she was. The woman who decided, a decade or so ago, that she wanted to get herself a man and set her sights on the one I happened to be married to at the time. There she was, smiling and holding her children. They were the first photos in the lineup, you guys. It's not as if I searched for them. Click and BOOM.

Here's the good news, though. It wasn't the gut punch. It wasn't even much of a pang, honestly. I did look because I'm human. Wouldn't you?? I looked at the kids and felt relief that they don't look anything like mine. I looked at her and for a flicker of a second thought "well she looks pretty pleased with herself". 

And then I kept on clickin'. Found pics of my brood and looked at them, thought how cute they were and how proud I am of them and then glanced at a few more and then closed the link. Not a slamming, close, either...just a run of the mill "click".

It gets better: I didn't think much about it, not really at all until a friend and I were discussing exes last night. I wanted to show her one of the pics but decided against it because holy Doritos, I might actually be a grown up. Well...we may want to hold onto that proclamation for a sec because I did also consider, for more than a few seconds, meme-ing the crap out of one of the pictures. "INSPIRATION TO SIDE CHICKS EVERYWHERE". Or, "I USED TO BE THE OTHER WOMAN, NOW I WORRY ABOUT HER" (don't worry, I didn't) (oh but we could have some fun with this one...😂)

If this had happened ten years ago, it would have immobilized me. It would have pushed me down a dark and cobwebby rabbit hole of anxiety and self-loathing and grief. I realize by writing about this, how proud I am of myself for not losing my shit after seeing a picture of my ex-husband's wife, that I'm inviting some of the "get over it already!" and "cripes, loser, it's been a decade!" comments. That's okay.

Because I know there are others out there who go through this. Whether it's been a month, a year or twenty years since your world was shaken down to its molten core, there are always going to be these reminders, these tests, if you will.

Pangs. Pangs and gut punches and pokes, oh my. They may hurt, but don't worry, my dears. They aren't fatal.




28 comments:

  1. You've come a long way, baby.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome update. Just reading this gave me pangs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this. Does anyone else wonder if they did the right thing? I do, all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. I know I did the right thing. I chose myself. My values. My vows. He did the opposite. You are worth more.

      Delete
    2. I didn't have a choice in the matter...he left and shacked up and honestly sometimes I think he would have been okay with staying married on paper (just to keep the costs down, ha!).

      But in the end, I'm okay with how it all went down. He would have done it eventually. Sometimes I'm surprised he didn't do it sooner.

      Delete
  4. I appreciate your writing so much! It's been 12 years since our divorce but 6 years since our final goodbye if you will. No one can tell a person how fast it takes to heal. The pangs are still there but only once in awhile and I'm so grateful for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for being here! Yes, we have to do this at our own pace and we should celebrate the fact that those pangs are infrequent now ♥

      Delete
  5. I love you and salute all you have gone through.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for another timely post from your heart...and your gut! It helps so much to know I'm not alone dealing with this completely crazy life that I didn't ask for but am trying to manage. You made my Saturday night (because of course I'm home).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Yay for exciting Saturday nights, right?

      You are so not alone. Never! We are strong and many.

      Delete
  7. I needed this tonight. It's been over four years, and I'm panging like a motherfucker tonight. I'm so tired of the resentment I feel towards him, towards her, towards the situation... and mostly it's better. It really is. But then something happens, and he's such a selfish dick, and I'm supposed to accommodate her, and her child, over my children, and I don't want to be hateful, but I'm feeling kind of hateful. I'll be better in the morning, partly because you just helped me calm down. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's okay to be hateful. Cripes, sometimes hateful can get you moving onto something more productive, right? Many a closet has been cleaned by someone in a hateful mood.

      I'm so glad to have been even a little help, my friend. ♥

      Delete
  8. So happy for you that you can feel OK now. And it's totally worth sharing, because there will be people reading this who are still feeling the brutal punch in the gut and need to know that it will end at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You should look at her and laugh. She won the worlds worst prize! Once a cheater always a cheater

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ah, the pangs...
    At the moment I have the 'eye rolls'...for example I had the kids this Christmas, and I stumble across a photo of him dressed up as Santa for her kids on Christmas Day.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You have come a long way baby! <3

    ReplyDelete
  12. You, Friend, are mighty in every sense of the word. I mean it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. How secure do you think she is? Knowing that she is married to a man who is so easily led away? If she slips up (too tired for sex? Messy house? Forgot to pick up the dry cleaning?) then watch out! She sounds like a shrew. Maybe he will meet a coworker or neighbor who isnt so shrewlike....hmmm? She better maintain a perfect house and perfect sexlife because there are plenty of tramps out there willing to bend over a desk. How well do you think she sleeps?

    ReplyDelete
  14. As always, your timing is impeccable. You share what many of us are feeling. And yes, even after ten years. The pangs are still real, the visuals are still hurtful; recognizably unpleasant, but somehow manageable. It's that bloody resentment that travels from the pit of your stomach to the core of your nous that is the most disabling; without a doubt, probably the hardest feeling to shake in this dreaded trilogy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm sure I'll get a fair share of hateful comments but something is urging me to post my comment so here it is.

    I'm someone else's "other woman". Back in my mid-20's, I left my marriage for another married man. And over 16yrs later, there's hardly a day I don't regert it. Ha, just ask my counselor! To this day, I've been going (to a few different ones over the years) for 10+ of the 16yrs.

    I have, and have always had, incredibly low self esteem. My husband (of 5 yrs) and I went to counseling but I couldn't seem to recognize or appreciate his attention or affection. Looking back, I clearly see that when you don't value or love yourself, it's pretty hard (if not impossible) to accept love from someone else.

    Enter new man. Someone else in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage. This emptiness within was something we had in common. The platonic friendship and shoulder to cry on evolved into consoling hugs. And eventually, our relationship grew. In my case, it most definitely wasn't a deliberate decision to jump into bed with someone else.

    Hear me out. I'm not excusing my deplorable behavior. Intentional or not, the facts remain. We destroyed two marriages, and to this day, I'm disgusted and ashamed of that. Yes, even 16+ yrs later. Really.

    Do I love my spouse? Absolutely. But I wish I didn't arrive here the way I did. Leaving him now doesn't undo an ounce of the hurt we caused. If anything, it makes it worse because it meant we destroyed two marriages "for nothing". But I COMPLETELY regret the choices I made back in my 20's. If I could, I'd strangle the living hell of of my past self. I'd show her the self-hatred in my heart. It went from low self esteem to self-loathing. Great job.

    So fast forward from then to now. His kids have grown and gotten married. They've blessed this world with some of the most adorable and amazing grandchildren (yes, I'm biased). My child has grown and lived with us and is almost ready to leave the nest. Throughout these years, there has been funerals, weddings, baby births, birthday parties. Most of which have been stark reminders of our horribly selfish choices years ago. I'M the elephant in the room. I shamefully withdraw and try to avoid eye contact with his ex-wife. It's karma, years and years to come.

    His kids have grown into mature, loving adults. Through these years, they've grown to be respectful and kind. I'm proud of them and the misfit life we've come to know.

    I can't speak for your situation obviously but I will have a lifetime of regrets for my own. I am all too familiar with the kick in the gut of which you speak. It's just coming from the other side. Maybe, just maybe, 'your other woman' feels it too. And perhaps that just might be a small blessing to you.

    Thank you for your blog. I've been reading for ages and I've laughed and cried along with you more times than I can count. I always love your honesty and your humor, even when some of them hit pretty close to home for all the bad reasons. Xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part of healing and getting better is having the courage to be honest, and to share the regret, so I commend you. I love reading this blog too for the laughter, the recognition of myself from many of the posts and the caring comments. I wish you well, and am looking forward to lots more postings. Hugs...

      Delete
    2. You won't get hate from me! Thank you for sharing and being honest. One thing that has become increasingly apparent as time goes on is that we all screw up. We all make mistakes and that's life. But...not all of us who do err recognize it, feel something over it and learn from it.

      I think there are some people who screw up and don't give it a second thought. They don't feel anything other than victorious or righteous and the only thing they learn is that they got away with something and didn't seem to suffer any repercussions.

      I'm sorry that you still feel badly about it but yay you for the counseling! I've yet to encounter a fellow human being who couldn't benefit from it.

      I can't tell you how much your being here means to me. Thank you!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...