2020 tried to break me, it failed: A series of unhappy events

I am still here, breathing in and out, one breath at a time, waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night, putting one foot in front of the other. I am still here, despite inwardly crying out “how will I ever get through this?” between one to one hundred times a day for the past eighteen months. I am still here, even though there were many a day I dissolved and could not mop myself up off of the floor, and others when I felt the only way forwards was backwards. And ironically, the fact that 2020 to 2021 has been the hardest time of my almost forty year old life was not as a result of Covid-19.

a bad joke

So much has happened it almost seems a joke, except that no-one would find the punchline of this joke even vaguely humorous. It has been a series of events, starting with my mom being diagnosed with middle stage Alzheimers in December 2019, ending with me getting divorced at the almost the end of 2021 and somewhere in the middle I spent some time in a mental health hospital (aka One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest Vacay) – oh and of course that pesky pandemic happening in between.

I will write about my mom and all the other unhappy events in future posts. For now I am going to focus on what has been all-consuming: the inevitable yet unexpected demise of my marriage of almost ten years. 

divorce does not roll off the tongue

On Wednesday, 25th of November 2020, I told my husband, the father of my child, that I wanted a divorce. This decision had been more than 12 months in the making (or if I am totally honest with myself it was probably 132 months in the making). I was determined to separate from him at that point, determined and riddled with self-doubt and self-hatred.

If anyone ever utters any shape of these words; “you wanted the divorce, it was your choice, so don’t act like you are the injured party”, within my earshot, best you be doing it whilst sprinting away.

I am not going to pretend to know what my ex-husband was feeling in that moment and all the impossibly hard moments that followed it, but just because I initiated it, does not mean I got to skip-away whistling “My happy ending” by Avril Lavigne.

deciding almost destroyed me

The decision almost destroyed me, and seeing that decision through every day for the following twelve months has been no picnic either.

Now, I wish there was some obscene bombshell discovery that led to me making this life-imploding decision – he cheated with my best friend, he bankrupt us and we lost everything, he’s secretly the head of a drug cartel and the FBI broke down my door at 8:20pm while I was watching Gilmore Girl reruns with curlers in my hair. None of these are motives for my decision. It is far more depressing and far less remarkable. 

Sadly, the truth is quite trite; I no longer love him, and despite his many assertions to the contrary, I do not believe he loves me anymore either. Our relationship was not one of support, kindness and mutual respect. It was not about team work, or compassion, or even sharing. It had effectively reduced down to room-mates, who happened to have a child together, co-existing. And what was worse the room-mates weren’t even friends. At best their relationship could be described as hospitable with a veneer of tolerance and affection.

Side Note: things not to say to person getting divorced

On a side note, here are a list of things not to say to someone going through a separation;

  • “Did you guys at least try to work it out?”
  • “What happened?”
  • “You always looked so happy together.”
  • “Do you have a good lawyer?”
  • “Oh I feel just terrible for your daughter. How is she coping?”
  • “You should take your child to see a therapist.”
  • “Oh it’s so hard growing up in a broken home.”

Deciding is hard work

By the time I reached the conclusion that my marriage was over, I had been trying to gain clarity for more than a year. I had read every book that looked like it might offer an answer. I spent a lot of time on a couch, discussing myself, my relationship and my future with a licensed professional. I had joined multiple online coaching courses and attended overseas webinars at 3:20am in the morning because – Mountain Daylight Time (yes that is a thing, Google it).

This was not an easy decision. And I definitely don’t feel like I took the easy way out.

The easy way out

The easy way out would have been to stay. The easy way out would have been to settle for my life as is. Voets toets. The easy way out would have been to pretend I was happy and that life is as good as it gets. The easy way out would have been to believe my own lies – “you and him are happy together, relationships have ups and downs”. The easy way out would have been to listen to my inner schwantz when she told me “you are NOT strong enough to go it alone” or “NO-ONE else will ever want you”.

But fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on the day), I didn’t listen and I didn’t believe my lies. I did not want to settle for ok and I did not want to believe that my marriage, my life, was as good as it gets.

Wishes don’t always come true

I wish things had turned out differently. I wish him and I had grown towards each other. I wish I wanted the life that we had made. But I am not willing to settle for a half life. A life that I will regret. A life that will set a bad example for our daughter. A fractured life that will have been wasted in resentment, frustration, heart ache and disappointment.

This was not an easy decision. And I definitely don’t feel like I took the easy way out.

I am devastated that this is how we end. I am sad for the life that will never happen. I am guilty that Izzy will grow up in a “broken home” (even though my brain knows this is a misnomer, my heart does not). I am angry that I had to make the hardest choice anyone can make. I am broken at the thought of not having another child, that Izzy will not have a brother or sister, that I won’t get another chance or turn to experience motherhood.

This was not an easy decision. And I definitely don’t feel like I took the easy way out.

i choose a life worth living

I chose to live a life worth living, even if it means being a lone, even if it means a life different to what I dreamed of, even if it means sacrifice, even if it means new fears, new challenges and hardships. Because a life worth living means freedom, dignity, mistakes without judgement, security, adventure, fulfilment, and unconditional love, forgiveness, tolerance and kindness – for myself and from a partner.

And that is the expedition I embarked on at the end of 2019 and continue today, a journey to discover what a life worth living looks like to Leigh. I am still on the expedition but I have acquired some artefacts along the way that are forming an answer to this question.

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