I can’t articulate this, I am trying. I’ve erased many lines. But something has to come out. A deliverance of all this heartache.
For years, I’ve been told if I don’t change, he’d leave. For years, he tried. To change me with love, stability, kindness, effort. Thinking, if she finally felt these things, surely she’d show her appreciation and reciprocate. Surely, she’d love me back the way I love her.
But, I’m not the same, we aren’t the same, and I could not rise.
Finally, when I began to shift my internal world, when I finally searched for help, when I fißnally began to really work on it – it is now far too late – and he is gone.
Alas, this is about me.
What I cannot wrap my mind around now is how enforced isolation, being left alone, this last-ditch effort to test whether my love is strong enough to drive the changes, is supposed to be the thing that pushes me, finally. To become all the things I’ve never learned to be. Patient. Non-reactive. Regulated. More empathetic. Aware more acutely how my actions affect others. More loving. Less selfish.
It isn’t an excuse, but I’m still learning how. To live like people do, who weren’t raised how I was raised. Learning, how to be what society calls acceptable. How to be like those who were brought up right, those, who had a thousand resources to my ten. Those, who were modeled a good strong marriage. Those, who weren’t physically and emotionally abused since they were too little to understand this is NOT the norm. People, like my husband.
I do understand, I see, I’ve always seen, how the two of us together is a dichotomy. I’ve always felt, like he deserved better than me. And I’ve always known, what held us together this long is love, and only love, because on paper, this experience has pushed us both to the end of ourselves, to where we are now – he is gone, and I’m left alone. Funny, I always said it would end up this way, and he always assured me it wouldn’t – until he stopped assuring me, and started threatening the very outcome we face now; he’s shown me I didn’t do it well enough, even on my best days, when I tried so hard to get this right. He’s shown me, the efforts to sustain us both have broken his heart, too many times, and the only recourse now is to retreat to safety, and that means no longer being with me.
If I could explain how that feels… God it would break anyone’s heart.
It feels like I began with an unfair advantage, entered the ring with a competitor with a longer reach, harder hits, and better technique. The bell rings, and I give all I have, but I’ll never be able to sustain a hit, let alone a win. This isn’t a complete analogy, of course. Because we aren’t competitors, we are partners. So maybe think of a Chef and his sous chef, except I always grab the wrong ingredients and bake at the incorrect temperature, and he has the instructions in his head, I can’t see them, but he shouts at me how to do this, how to grab the eggs instead of the butter. How to turn the knob to the right temperature, yet because I’m not being encouraged, I’m being yelled at, my hands are shaking and I feel useless, yet I keep on trying, I keep trying to understand and see what he sees. He knows if I just listened, we’d bake a beautiful meal, he knows, if I just did exactly as I was told and fight all my instincts, we could do this together. Yet, how long can he keep scrapping it. How long can he keep trying. When it just doesn’t seem like I’m getting it?
I don’t blame him. How can I?
He’s told me, plainly, “everyone who knows you, knows you are like this”, and what that means is, they have all seen me fail, time and time again. And they all expect that’s all I can do, so of course it had to come to this. If you know me, to know me is to only see how I failed him, us, this, and how could they see any different when that’s just the truth?
To hear that – his parents, my sisters, his friends, hell, even my own father – when they look at me, when they look at my marriage, all they see is that of course he is tired, of course it would come to this, of course – he had to go. What else should I expect?
It quite honestly felt like even the people that should see the good in me, have only ever taken account of the bad. It feels like, those who claim to love me have just been watching me fail. Over and over again. And they think to themselves, “How sad, if she would only submit. If she would only stop doing what she’s always done. If she would only go to this class, this support group, read these books, say these prayers… If she would only… Then she’d deserve what she has”. It feels like, all they see when they look at me is someone who doesn’t try hard enough. Can’t sustain it. Keeps making the same mistakes.
So. Where does that leave me, now?
Plainly, it leaves me alone. The very place I hoped never to be again. I wanted to believe in unconditional love, but clearly, the conditions exist, and I just can’t cut it. Clearly, the expectations placed on my healing, my growth, my lived experience, have yet to be met, and so, now, I reap what I have sewn.
It is as painful as a third degree burn. As painful, as a death. Because it is both of these things.
I spent the morning playing and sitting with the kids, in preparation of spending the first weekend ever without all four of my children. They’ll go here and there, three fathers for four children, and I’ll be here without a single soul beside me. Without a hug. Without someone to just sit with me as I cry. Without so much as a kind word. Why?
Because I haven’t been strong enough to fix over 30 years of bad patterns, because I was never taught to love myself so how can I love someone else. Because, this is what I deserve after I’ve made a mess of every relationship I’ve tried to have since I left home. I am acutely aware there’s no one to blame but me, and I’m not given any more time to correct course, because the only one to contend with now is me.
This is absolutely gutwrenchinly difficult. To want so much to love, but not know how to do it right. To want a family. But watch as it leaves in three separate cars, the full weight of my failure in the fathers that ceased to see the good in me, but left to go find what THEY deserve, no longer caring as the tears fall down my face. Taking the children I created or wanted to adopt, the children that relied on me to give them a whole family, I get to watch one by one as they leave, knowing it is on me, and apparently, everyone that knows me agrees I deserve this, because I haven’t been good enough to any of them, probably ever.
How do I fight, for myself? How do I keep going, when I’ve tried so hard for the past long while. I’ve tried to reprogram my brain. I’ve tried to learn why I am this way and make changes to mitigate the bad patterns I adapted to survive. I’ve tried, to show love. To be patient. To give of myself. To stop reacting.
The attempts no longer bear any weight. Clearly. It wasn’t enough. Even though in my soul, I know I’m better than I’ve ever been. It still isn’t enough. Not for people that have never lived even half of the things I’ve been through. How could they understand someone like me, or better still. Why would they tolerate… someone like me?
They can’t, and they won’t. So. Back to the root of the issue.
I have to try harder, but this time, I have to do it for me. I have to dig deeper than I ever have. And find a way to love this broken person that the world rejects. I have to find the courage to keep going. In an empty house, full of memories, that is now silent, when all I can hear is the resounding screams in my face, “what did you expect? This is all your fault. I told you this would happen if you didn’t change”. All I have left is the truth that they were right – as I am, today, even though I’m trying so hard, it just isn’t worth it to try and love me.
I have to find a way, and in spite of my core wounding. Which is abandonment. In spite of being made to be alone. I have to keep going.
I’m not sure I’ve cried this much since my mother died. Nor have I felt so alone.
I love my husband, I love our family. But all I’m told now is, I’ve done it wrong, and apparently EVERYONE knows it. So, tell me, world, when you try and try and push hard to change, but told repeatedly it just isn’t cutting it, how do you keep going? How do you keep fighting, when your best has never been enough?
I wish I had support. But, I don’t. Not really. His parents said they would support me, but this was after they spent days talking to their son without so much as a phone call to check on me. My ex’s mother says she supports me, but still she takes the side of the one whose hurt by me, and sees why he’s leaving, so I’m not sure how to lean into that and trust it.
I’ve even been told it’s my fault I don’t have friends. I don’t answer texts or give my time, I am not empathetic, and this is what I should expect – yes, I’ve literally been told it’s my fault that nobody stays in my life. SO, then, what is there to fight for? The world sees only one thing when they look at me, someone who deserves to be alone because she doesn’t know how to have normal, reciprocal, loving relationships. It’s my fault.
I’m not giving up. I’m just incredibly sad. I’m not giving up, I just don’t know why God would set me apart to live this kind of life. One where ultimately I’m left alone, and told I deserve it.