My marriage was a lonely place. My ex first turned away from me when he started a new career 10 years into our marriage. I was essentially a single parent of three under the age of 7 for the last six years before he cheated and ultimately turned away and left the family.
I didn’t cheat, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t have, had an opportunity presented itself. I just wasn’t looking for one. I was a busy mom who didn’t work outside the home. I had a healthy social life (primarily without my spouse) but all my friends were other families.
I became the commensurate nagging housewife. No support from your spouse can do that I guess. I retreated from him as he retreated from me, because anytime I tried to address our issues and problems I was met with pacification and empty emotions and unfulfilled promises.
I often wonder if my own principled mind would have scoffed at the chance for romance had it arose. Because I believe that ultimately we all, as humans, desire the feeling of being loved and accepted by another human being. Held in high regard.
I wanted my spouse to feel that about me. That didn’t really happen. And I would say I’m partly to blame for that. I wasn’t always nice. I tend to lash out when I feel hurt. And I felt hurt quite a bit as my ex walked further and further away from our marriage and family and towards his new desirable job and exciting opportunities. I was left behind, the ‘woman behind the scenes’ making all things possible by handling all the ins and outs of our family. I just never wanted to merely be the ‘woman BEHIND the man’. I wanted to be a partner. I wanted my partner to see me as a smart and viable equal to share in life’s experiences. The reality was that an environment was created where I did all the planning and care taking of children (and him) when he was not otherwise engaged with his super influential and exciting job that I was not a part of. He showed up. He semi-engaged when he was present, but he showed up. I was supposed to be appreciative of his efforts. I wasn’t supposed to call him out on not participating in any aspects of preparation or follow through. I was supposed to accept what he gave and be thankful for it.
I can retell the story of my marriage and leading up to the demise (from my perspective of course) and it’s like an out of body experience. It must have happened to someone else, not me. The facts play out like a bad romance novel that belies the attraction to clandestine affairs and seeking solace from a mundane life for something more intriguing.
I have felt lost for a few years now. Flailing around in this new reality that I haven’t taken hold of or owned in any strong sense of identifying way. I spent a long time of my life following the path I thought was mine to walk; supporting my husband, raising my family, waiting for earned milestones of life. Now I just feel lost. My husband is no longer, my family is nearly raised, and milestones are not even close to the same as they once were. I used to imagine my meager teaching salary (once I returned to work) as a college fund to help support my three kids’ college aspirations. I longed for a ‘forever home’ to raise my children and create traditions and memories that would last them a lifetime; somewhere they would aspire to return to with their own children to take part in those traditions created as a complete extended family. I craved roots with a friend group that was close enough to be considered family…people my children could call upon if/when they were in trouble or just needed another adult that wasn’t their parent.
I believe that I sacrificed so much.
And I can’t say that I would have done too many things differently in that regard.
I do believe that I went about things with my ex in a somewhat sabotaging way…though I certainly don’t claim the entirety of the responsibility; he ultimately made his own choice when it came down to the ‘do or die’ moment.
I just feel lost. I used to think that I knew my ex, somewhere in that time of growing up and becoming adults together, but now, he’s ultimately a stranger to me. Though as much as I know I don’t know my ex anymore…I don’t know that I really know myself either. It’s odd that I have lived a life up to this point for 40+ years now, and I am not a recognizable entity within the memories. There is no anchor to tether myself to…which can be freeing I suppose, but to me seems more overwhelming and suffocating.
I guess I gotta start trying to figure out who I truly want to be…and put the plans in motion regardless of who I WANTED to be and realize that different isn’t a failure.