The problem (of many) with divorce is that it leaves you alone with your thoughts. Before Covid, my only solitude was the drive between work and picking up my kids. I had a solid 20 minutes to cry and scream in my car before putting on the mask of sanity.
Now, I’m alone most of the time. Even when I have my kids, they’re in school during the day. I used to love having an empty house to myself. Now it feels like I’m the last person left post-apocalypse.
It’s so hard not going down the “woe is me” path. Buckle up, because I’m doing it.
Growing up with extremely religious, immigrant parents meant I never fit in with my friends.
That was life; they got loving, supportive parents who let them do things like wear shorts and I was in a violent home hiding my diary because the last time my parents found it, I got in trouble for writing how I thought they hated me. Nothing screams “we love our child” more than berating them for privately thinking they feel unworthy and unloved by their parents.
It was the theme of my childhood: my life is different than everyone else’s. I don’t get to have what they have.
Then I repeated that pattern as an adult.
My life was different than everyone else’s. They got happy marriages with spouses who were present.
I had a marriage with a husband who was never around, had a porn addiction, and we fought constantly. Add a special needs kid to the mix and it cemented the theme: you don’t get to have what others have. Disclaimer: yes, I’m grateful for my healthy children who I love and adore. Don’t come after me.
An unhappy marriage takes so much effort to fake fitting in. It’s a duck stumbling upon swans. It was exhausting and draining. I asked for a divorce because I wanted authenticity. The charade was too much and I no longer cared what anyone thought.
Here’s the thing with an authentic life: you have to live it.
Instead, I sit here angry. I’m angry. Tears pouring down my face, my heart hurting for the destruction I’ve caused my kids, and I’m filled with anger.
A lifetime being an outlier sucks. I know society says the ones who are unique, special, and one-of-a-kind are the ones who change the world and are the most memorable. F*ck that noise. I want to be the bland, boring, blond white girl who is forgettable. No, I don’t think all blond white girls are bland and boring. chill.
I want to know what it’s like to worry about soccer games instead of my child’s therapy sessions.
I want to know what it’s like to not feel hatred masked as resentment towards my spouse. I want to know what it’s like to have a healthy relationship where I feel safe to be myself. I want to know what it’s like to have supportive parents and not work through my avoidant attachment daily because of my upbringing.
I want to know what it’s like to raise children without breaking a cycle.
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What is it like to pass on years of love and secure parenting? Everything I do with my children feels unnatural because it goes against what’s ingrained in my mind. When my kids cry, I hear a voice in my head instructing me to validate their feelings and let them talk despite my instinct to brush them off. My default is to be an a**hole and everything needs a system override for the sake of my children’s well-being.
Every act of love and tenderness towards my kids feels like I’m re-opening a childhood wound to remind myself of what not to do and how they should not feel. They’re still struggling with the divorce, which means constant work to do the right thing with only the guidance of “whatever my parents would do…do the opposite”.
I struggled for so long with this decision. It would have been my 19th wedding anniversary this week. Eighteen years of misery is a long time. It’s most of my adult life. I often think that I should have either done it years sooner (when my kids were younger) or maybe waited until the pandemic ended.
My Sophie’s Choice was to stay and be miserable, but have my kids full-time…or leave and have a chance to be not unhappy (as opposed to actual happiness) at the expense of my kids’ mental health. While my mental health is infinitely better without Joseph as my husband, my heart is shattered not having my children and hearing them cry (even months later) wishing their parents weren’t divorced.
It doesn’t help that Joseph made it clear to them that I’m the one who wanted the divorce. I tried spinning it as a mutual decision to have a united front but it failed. My kids are upset with me and blame me for ruining their lives.
They’re not wrong. I am the reason for ruining their lives.
When I think about it, my brain circles back to how it seems like I’m never destined to have a life of happiness like others have. Even if I found it now, it would be at my kids’ expense, which is a knife to my heart.
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Having a moderately-healthy, not-overly-bad marriage with my children’s father where we live in the same house wasn’t in the cards. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It doesn’t feel fair.
I’m tired of being different.
I want to be basic with a generic husband who doesn’t yell and everyone attends the children’s baseball games on weekends (okay, that sounds like torture but if that’s the price to pay for cookie-cutter life, then I’ll take it) . I want supportive parents and an active part in my kids’ lives.
I want to be the kind of person who thinks wine tastes good and sits down for dinner every evening with her family.
I want to feel like I fit in. I’m forty-five years old and feel like the odd kid out.
I wish my life’s path wasn’t a Sophie’s Choice of “what’s the least-worst, most tolerable option”. Both options suck. I’m angry at my choices and while I wasn’t doing well with things before, I’m not doing well with things now either.
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Jennifer M. Wilson writes because in real life her humor is allegedly too sarcastic and inappropriate. Email her to learn more.
This article was originally published at Meidum. Reprinted with permission from the author.