Truth be told, this is not the first letter I have penned since our status as a couple has ceased to exist. It is, actually, one of many. Some were harsh, some were sorrowful, while others were all facts as I tried to explain my side of the story. Most were left unfinished and all went unsent. This was probably for the best as my emotions and perception of you and our relationship has changed like the weather over the last couple of years.
It is hard to grasp that three years ago today, at exactly this time, 2:36pm, I would just be slipping into that, carefully sought after, perfect, white dress. This dress was the one chosen among countless others because it met all of the predetermined qualifications- from the right price to the right style-making it the perfect choice for this, soon-to-be, perfect day. More than that, it fit the description of an image I had decided on, and clung to, for many years prior. Kind of like you. Which makes it kind of ironic that in the end, I hated that dress.
Have you ever seriously and honestly looked back at our wedding day? I’m almost positive you must have; I feel like it’s a natural reaction to try and retrace all of one’s steps in an effort to find where a relationship went wrong. When I recount that perfect day, I have come to realize that, while unarguably wonderful, I spent virtually none of it with you.
While I was being swaddled in lace and chiffon, you were at the hotel, just down the road, getting loaded with the Best Man. Although you didn’t seem nervous, you also didn’t seem excited to finally seal our longstanding relationship into a lifetime commitment. And in all honesty, I felt the same void of emotions.
Once all of the pomp and circumstance began, we only saw each other for the vows, toasts and first dance. And strangely, that too was okay with me; I was completely happy to spend the night just with friends and family. And it’s hard to admit out loud, but it’s no secret that we didn’t have sex on our wedding night, and neither one of us cared. On our “romantic” honeymoon to Jamaica, you spent most of it in the hotel room while I was on the beach, reading and getting drunk by myself. We couldn’t wait to go home; we were incredibly bored.
I guess, in retrospect, our wedding sums up our relationship quite well: separate even when together. While we were never volatile in our relationship with no extreme ups or downs, our biggest problem was just that we were never connected. Everything was mine or yours; never ours. My hobbies or my friends. Your money, your career path. Very seldom did we see ourselves as the two people that are part of the team that is a marriage. We functioned well co-exisiting, but we were never each others biggest supporter or favorite person to spend the day with or primary person to confide in. I never felt like you were the one person I could lean on when life got hard. I had no teammate in life. Instead I always felt very alone (and thus, very emotionally reliant on my parents well past the age when I should have been so heavily relying on them). And this is precisely why we could not work. I hope you can see this now, but something tells me you do not.
Instead I hear stories of bad mouthing and other negativity surrounding me and our previous relationship. Your, very public, Divorce Party “incidentally” on my birthday weekend or a vapid outburst over my new boyfriend shows me that, 2 years later, you still do not understand.
I realize that I am the one who left; I am the one who ultimately pulled the trigger on ending this relationship. But you need to realize that it doesn’t mean that I didn’t go through the same amount of angst and emotional upheaval inevitably brought on with the dissolution of our relationship. You need to realize I did not do this to hurt you.
Believe it or not, I have put myself in your shoes, and to some extent, I understand your perspective. I know the whole thing seemed seemed fast and effortless,on my part, in that short span of time where you finally realized I had one foot out the door to the mere, few weeks later when the house was finally vacant of all that was mine.
I know you lived life right next to me all that time so, to you, it seems it came out of nowhere.
I know we slept mere inches away from each other every single night, so you thought you truly knew me.
I know we ate dinner together, and kissed each other good bye, and made plans to put in a patio in the back yard, and all of this made you feel that things were right with the world. But I was living in a hell you never seemed to know about.
How do you think it felt to carry the weight of the knowledge that you are entirely miserable, and the only way to make yourself happy again is to hurt the person you love the most? Do you have any idea of what kind of emotional distress it causes to know that you have to leave behind everything that is important and dear to you if you have any kind of shot at being remotely happy? Did you really not notice? Did you really not see the piles of marital self-help books I brought home? Did you not notice the six solid months of insomnia? Did you not notice that I was too stressed and anxious to eat, causing a 30-lb weight loss in a month? Did you think it was okay that I admittedly was only happy when I was eye-high in booze? Did you find it normal for me to get so drunk that I would rant about how you didn’t, really, love me? Did you really believe that the reason we were in couples counseling was not solely based on my issues alone?
When I, finally, in tear laden words and a shaky voice, admitted that I was unhappy with our relationship, didn’t you stop and think about what we should do to get us back to normal? Or, like me, did you realize that we never were solid; never really in love? Did you realize that we always lived separate lives; that our personalities never really meshed? Don’t you see that the times we were happiest was when other people were around?
That’s not normal. That’s not okay. Those are called red flags. And I saw them all a little too late, but based on the anger and resentment aimed at me, it seems that you never saw them at all. In fact, you possibly still don’t see them. All you can see is that I was selfish for leaving and messing up your perfectly banal little world. What you are too blind to see is how, actually, unselfish my actions were.
I could have stayed. I could have enjoyed living the easy, financially comfortable life we had even knowing I wasn’t in love with you at all. I would have inevitably cheated and I could have carried on like that for years. And while part of me would have felt guilty, I could have lived with it because our marriage was so passionless it was enough to drive anyone crazy and justify an affair. I have learned that after a while, everyone with a pulse craves some sort of love and affection. And seven years was too long for me to have had nothing but disingenuous affection for a brief moment before being brushed off.
So instead, I took all of the courage I had and I did the right thing. For both of us. So that we, not just I, could be happy.
And are you happy now?
Now that you can boast to all of your friends all that you “won” the divorce.
Now that you are no longer tethered to the “crazy, heinous bitch” that your fraternity brothers and family always said I was.
Now that you don’t have me breathing down your neck with all my inane “demands”.
Does it make you happy to sit back and bash me to people we know?
Does celebrating the fact that I am no longer a part of your life make you breath easier and sleep more soundly?
I hope it does. Because for the first time in my life, my baggage has finally been left at the train station. I am breathing deep and sleeping like a baby. It took me almost two years, but starting with the New Year, I decided it was time to let go of the past, and stop hating myself for willingly entering our marriage and sequentially propelling our divorce. After all, you do enough hating for the both of us.
It’s now 3:32pm, and three years ago my wedding dress was being carefully
folded stuffed into my parents sedan so we could meet you at the wedding site. This dress, the source of so much anxiety and angst before the wedding, now sits lonely and shunned inside it’s garment bag in my parents basement. I pass by it every so often as I cross the room to the washing machine and I can feel it taunting me like a Pandora’s Box of bad memories. The other day it caught the corner of my eye, as it usually does, and I finally gave in after 3 years of avoidance, and unzipped the bag. I had evaded looking at it for so long, thinking that I would not be able to stand the flood of negative emotions that were surely to follow.
But instead, I found myself smiling. The truth is, on our wedding day, I was happy. Truly happy. How can one not be happy when you are surrounded by so much love and excitement? But that’s not real, relationship, love. That’s not the kind of love that is deep seeded and inherent enough to make a relationship last. You cannot siphon off the love of others around you, in place of the love that should exist between two married people. You cannot live in a relationship only loving the things-friends, animals, memories, objects- that you have together if you do not love one another’s souls. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work. And you can’t avoid that fact forever.
I know that now. I was too young and inexperienced and too damaged from previous emotional traumas that left me emotionally vacant and shut down. I honestly offered you the most love that I could at that time, and I know you did the same; it just wasn’t enough in the end. And that’s OK. If nothing else, I have come to realize that I will accept and cherish every ounce, and every moment of happiness in this lifetime that I can get. And there were multitudes of happy moments in our seven years together.
For that I am grateful.
I hope that someday you can be too. Only then will you be free of the shackles that divorce otherwise, inevitably, enraptures you in. Only then will you be able to move on and find true joy in life. And this happiness was, honestly, all I have ever hoped to give to you all along.