So, theoretical readers (as it seems I have no outside visits to my site just yet) who share my past, I have a question for you. How do you deal with the "shame?" Or do you even feel ashamed?
While I will be the first to admit how much happier I am without my X, or how juvenile the whole relationship was, even back then, I knew on some levels, that I wasn't the happiest I could ever be. But back then, as I do now, I believed marriage is a choice.
Here's something people DON'T like to hear, but I'm going to say it anyways. Marriage isn't about love. Yes, you want to marry someone you love, and who loves you back, with all their heart. And yes, you want to marry someone who makes your pulse race, who turns you on. But that's not what marriage is about. Marriage is a choice. Marriage is saying "I am making the choice to be with this person, and to be honest and true to each other." Love comes and goes. Even in marriage. My parents have been married..... aw crap, I'm awful at this. I can barely remember how old my parents are, much less how long they've been married, but I'm pretty sure they were married 3 years when I was born?? So... almost 30 years now. And they are very different, and in all honesty, I never quite understood them being together. At one time, my dad even admitted to me that he & my mom had "long periods where they didn't really communicate." But he told me that they worked through it. And it's this example that I grew up with. My parents love each other very much, but I think that more than "being in love," they decided "This is the person I am choosing to make my life with. It might not be the best match ever, but I am making this choice."
Marriage is about making the decision to build your life, your future, and your family with someone. Hopefully you marry the one you love, but honestly? You don't have to in order to have a successful marriage. Marriage is an arrangement between two people. And as long as both of you agree to and act in accordance with each other's wishes, it is a successful marriage.
I remember asking my mom once when I was in Jr High, how she knew Dad was "the one." She simply said "I'm not. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow." Choice.
So I knew going in to my marriage that perhaps he wasn't my perfect match. But I knew I was committed to him and that I was going to work hard and make my life with him.
He thought I was going to change into someone else after the wedding. As if somehow that would magically make me into someone else??? He knew all of my flaws, all of my problems, and I knew all of his. I had accepted them, they're part of who he is/was, and why I loved him.
So when he left me, it's because I didn't magically change. And after he told me he wanted the divorce, he finally let down whatever wall he'd been hiding behind for the 3 1/2 years we'd been together & revealed to me that he was a completely different person. That he didn't love me at all, but loved some imaginary girl he thought I was.
And I was ashamed that I had let myself be fooled into it. I'm not going to claim I was some perfect mate. But the problems I caused, the problems I had, they'd been there through the entirety of our relationship, these weren't new to him. And now, because of his misconceptions of what marriage is and what it meant for our relationship, I was now forced to be part of a statistic. I'm now included in the number of failed marriages. I'm part of that "50% of marriages end in divorce." I KNEW what I was getting myself into, why was I forced to wear this albatross around my neck??? I didn't give up, he did, and yet I am unable to get out of that label.
When I moved back home and began to reestablish my life, my mom told me that I had to inform my grandfather. My grandpa is old fashioned. He's a worrier, and he's also a guilter. He doesn't do it on purpose, he really just wants what's best, but he's kind of awful at conveying that.
So when I called him to tell him, I had to listen to 20 minutes of "can't you change his mind?" and "you're not trying hard enough," and "First Sandy, then Frank, then Sally and now you*," (referring to aunts & my uncle who have all been divorced, as if that has something to do with my divorce) all while I tried to explain that I did everything I could.
So how do I deal with that guilt? My best friend has assured me that it's not my fault. The divorce was all X's decision. I've often said "If he had given me more than 10 months, maybe a few years and we still couldn't work it out, I would have given up too. We could have just both looked at our marriage & been like, ok, this isn't working. We've tried everything. Time to call it quits." But instead he never even gave it a real chance to get out of that first, rough, year. And anytime someone says "I didn't know you were married once!" I tell them how short it was, and I feel like a failure. I'm not so ashamed that I avoid it in conversation, but it still stings. I think I deal with it by telling people about it. They ask about the tattoo on my wrist (X's wedding gift to me), and I tell them. And I answer their questions. Usually they reassure me that it wasn't my fault, and those reassurances are what helps me.
But how do you deal? How should one deal?
*Not actually my relatives' names.