Don’t Get It Twisted
Lately, I talk a lot about my divorce in social media. And I’m realizing - I barely share what was good about my marriage. And there were many good parts about it, some of which I still miss.
We lived on West 34th Street in Manhattan and we rode our bikes all over town. We were so good at it, a team, efficient and fast, but safe. And when we would walk somewhere and the streets were crowded (which they almost always were), we would just say “Manhattan walk”, nod to each other in agreement and get in “mission mode”. We both knew what that meant - walk fast, efficiently scanning ahead in the crowd for spots where we can move with the traffic and get to our destination as soon as possible.
He was great at fixing stuff around the house. Once he built me a meditation hut, so that I could have a “separate” space to meditate in our alcove studio. He would hang pictures on walls and fix squeaky door hinges and get my bike ready for the season in the spring. It took me a year to stop crying when I would think of all the stuff he’d do for me, happily. I maintain my bike myself these days, but I still haven’t hung up one single piece of art in my apartment.
He always had my back. He never cheated on me (that I know of). He admired my business success without showing jealousy. He valued my opinion.
The truth is, two opposing realities can exist at the same time. You can love someone, and not feel satisfied in a relationship with them.
And in case I portrayed it as easy, just so we’re clear - it wasn’t. I struggled with guilt, codependency, trying not to be passive-aggressive but failing to learn a different way of relating. I wasn’t accepting him for who he was, but I also wasn’t letting go. Which is why I left in the end.
Our conversations were mostly one-sided, he would listen, but barely ever comment or share his world.
He would constantly get himself in debt and we would argue about it. He’d promise he won’t do it again and then 6 months later, there we were again.
We weren’t having sex. I’d buy sexy lingerie and walk around the apartment half naked, trying to get his attention, as he would watch the TV and not seem to notice me. I would write him letters about what I wanted him to do to me and watch his reaction, so tender and vulnerable, in anticipation, and he would smile and say, “sure honey” and put the letter away never to mention it again. He would fall asleep on the couch 90% of the time and I would cry myself to sleep, feeling desperate.
This was bothering me. I couldn’t accept who he was and I was constantly trying to get him to change, to which he would rebel, naturally. We became toxic to each other.
All of it simply wasn’t enough for me and I felt guilty about that. I would say to myself “Here is a man who will always stay by your side, and that’s not enough for you?” and I would torture myself that way. Because of course it wasn’t enough. Just because someone stays by your side, it doesn’t mean that the quality of the connection is satisfying. You have the right to want what you want. I didn’t want to hurt him and I didn’t want to lose him, but I didn’t want a marriage like that either.
I tried to save us. I’m sure he did too, in his own way. For years, I went to therapy. Women’s groups. Family constellations. I dragged him to a few couple’s therapy sessions too, but that didn’t go over too well.
Towards the end, I stopped talking about any of this. I was tired of saying the same thing over and over again and have him agree, just to keep staying in the same dynamic.
I’m sure he did the best he could. I’m not mad at him. I don’t think he’s mad at me either.
He loved me the best he could. I loved him the best I could. It wasn’t all dark and bad. It wasn’t easy to leave. But it was the only right path for me.
And I have learned SO MUCH about myself through this process, through the people I’ve dated since our divorce. I see my weaknesses, I understand my patterns. Now I know that it’s not my job to manage other people’s emotions. It’s not my duty to stay where I don’t feel like I belong. It doesn’t work to stay small and feel guilty because someone can’t or won’t grow with me.
What works is that I look at my own patterns and ask myself – do I really want this? Am I being passive-aggressive? Am I acting codependent? And then sit with my feelings, journal, meditate, talk about them. Heal myself so that next time I can choose right and honor both myself and the other person.