Rumination on Ending a Marriage

Well, here I sit in my living room, 15 hours away from officially ending a 15 year relationship. I dated my very-soon-to-be-officially Ex for 5 years before we married. We will have been married 9 years, 4 months and 24 days tomorrow…so I’ve rounded up –15 years! That’s a long time. Tonight I have purposed to sit at my computer and just let my thoughts flow. In my mind, my marriage was over when I moved out in April of 2005–but not really. It’s not really over for another 15 hours.

I am currently–this week, this month, this year–the happiest I have ever been in life. On one hand, yes, it’s because I’m getting divorced tomorrow and I will finally have closure with that. But more than that, I am happy because I feel like me again. My mom and a friend from kindergarten told me within a day of each other that they are glad to have the real Lexi back. Wow! I was stunned by that statement. Sometimes it’s hard to realize how much of ourselves we’ve lost, how far we’ve strayed from our true selves, until we’re back.

As a practicing Christian, my relationship with my family became extremely strained. I became very judgmental and arrogant. I can own that now. When I see it in other Christians it disgusts me, not because of who they are, but because of who I was. I drove the biggest wedge between me and my mom. Partly because my judgmental attitude really hurt her, and partly because she refused to put up with my bullshit. I am grateful that she wouldn’t allow me to be an ass to her, even when I thought I was justified. I’m so sorry, Mommy. I love you dearly and I’ll have a drink with you anytime, Love. I swear!

I have the best relationship with my brother but it hasn’t always been this way. My brother is so cool. He’s very laid back, a great musician. He’s a guy with great taste and tremendous class. As I’ve said before, he’s the standard any man has to meet for me to even consider a future with him. Well, I didn’t really know how great my brother was for many, many years. We started out fighting like cats and dogs as most siblings do. Before I knew it he was dating then gone and married. His first marriage was miserable as was mine, and I was so busy being holy that I never took time to hang out with him while he did the cool stuff he did. Apparently my brother has played lots of the jazz clubs in DC and I’ve never been to hear him once! I was clinging so dearly to a life of rigidity that I missed out on the wonderful guy he is. I am so glad I have a chance to be friends with him now, because he’s an amazing guy. I’m so thankful that his new wonderful amazing wife shares him with me. I love you, Rick and I’m so sorry for all the time we’ve missed.

I had a tiny group of friends I was close to in elementary school and throughout middle school. By the time I was beginning high school, I was a full blown Jesus-freak and instantly above my girls. Now, even they would have to admit that it was probably best for me to have skipped out on some of their antics, I still isolated myself from them for years. We have reconnected since my separation and what is true about the best of friends is true about these ladies — it seems like we haven’t missed a beat. I love you girls and I’m so glad we’re in each other’s lives again.

Now it would seem, I suppose, that I blame my sabotage of my relationships on my Christianity. I do not. But I am certain that my marriage to my husband kept me tethered to a belief system and a way of life much longer than I would have stayed in it on my own. The truth is that I fantasized about being out of the ministry, about being out of my marriage and the judgmental family I’d married into. I loathed the thought of bearing children with that last name who would be tainted with a world view that was so far from anything I’d ever read in the Bible. I longed to redeem the day I chose to give my life away for his.

I was in my junior year of college when I started dating Ex. I distinctly remember walking past McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland College Park. I was standing directly in front of the bronze statue of Testudo, our mascot, when I said to myself, “If I’m going to be a pastor’s wife, there is no place in my future for law school. If I’m not going to law school, there’s no point in taking this constitutional law class.” I then made a sharp left, went down to the Mitchell Building and dropped Con Law. I will forever remember this day as the day I lost me.

I did go on to marry Ex and to be a pastor’s wife. I eventually became his assistant pastor. I loathed our lives most days. I felt like I had very little choice about my life’s direction. I felt geographically tethered because of the church. I felt professionally tethered because of our church. I felt relationally tethered because of our church. I felt like I had no privacy. That my life was not my own. That I was living a lie and preaching something I half believed. Needless to say, I quickly began to resent the church and my husband. I asked for us to give it up. I begged to give it up. In fact, I was so caught up in the insanity that even when he wanted to give up, I talked him out of it and continued to resent both the church and him. My church was a very toxic church. I would venture to say that most churches are in one way or another. Ours was in a hundred ways.

I learned within the first 6 months of my marriage that my husband was a chronic liar. That rattled my wheels because, even if I didn’t buy Christianity as much as I pretended to, I really believed in his faith. Day by day I saw more and more of what anyone sees when they are with a liar–more deception, manipulation and the accompanying efforts to cover it up and keep the whole farce afloat. I lost respect for him by the end of the first year, for sure.

That was always his accusation against me–that I didn’t respect him. He was right. I did not, but not for the reasons he would say. I can only assume that he felt insecure because I have more formal education than he has. That never bothered me or cost him my respect. I love hard-working blue collar men, my degrees be damned. I didn’t respect him because he wasn’t respectable. If you will lie to your mother in the face of your wife, holy shit. What else are you lying about, Mister? Well, it took me many years to get to the bottom of it all — well to get close enough to the bottom that I decided I didn’t want to know anymore. Suffice it to say that he had a whole lot of shit going on. I decided to leave with my dignity and my health. I have never, ever regretted that decision and I don’t look back, not for one second.

Once I left I began to remember day by day that I had worth, that I mattered and that I was responsible to become my best self. I couldn’t do that in my marriage. It was toxic and we became toxic to one another. In the last 3 years I have enjoyed the thrill of discovering me, in some ways for the first time. I’ve found my voice. I am secure in my skin. I am living life on my terms and am so full of love and joy and peace. I used to be so pessimistic and, if you remember my early posts, cynical. Sometimes I fall back upon my cynicism because it amuses me, but I don’t depend on it anymore for protection. I have no question in my mind that I have become my own person and I own my destiny. I’m a rock star if only in my own mind. I love me and I love to call out the worth in other people. As I shine I long to see others let their light shine as well.

So, I’m at a turning point. I about to be single again. I am about to begin to entertain the idea of a lasting romantic relationship. I’ll marry the man I can’t imagine life without, should I find him. But I don’t feel like I need to marry ever again if I choose not to. My life is simple and peaceful without having to synchronize schedules, tastes or what have you. Sometimes I do want a simple good morning kiss. The kiss goodbye on my forehead while I was still half-asleep is one of my fondest memories from my marriage. But I will never marry again for the sake of being married. It’s not fair to either party.

If the judge were to ask me if I had anything I’d like to say before he pronounced his judgment it would be this:

Ex, I am really sorry that we could not agree on the truth about our reality. If there were a perfect way to end this marriage, for me it would be for us to both admit all we’ve done to ruin it, forgive one another and continue to be friends who just aren’t good as husband and wife. You know as well as I do that we are oil and water. We tried to force it way longer than we should have. You are who you are and I am who I am. Expressing those realities in a chaotic context, which actually hindered both us from being free to be ourselves, resulted in us both hurting each other deeply. I am sorry for the pain I caused you over the years. I forgive you for the pain you’ve caused me. I wish you well.

I sincerely hope that you find peace within yourself and that you find peaceful and loving relationships in which you can express the genuine love that I know is in your heart. In many ways I always found you to be a really good guy. I still remember those things about you, although it may seem I have forgotten.

I am happy today. I bet that looks like I’m happy to be rid of you but, honestly, my happiness isn’t about you at all. It’s about me. I’ve found me and I’m learning to live the life I was created for. I wish you the same, sincerely. Be well. Be blessed.

So, as much as I was bouncing off of the walls today with excitement, tears roll down my face as I write this. They are cleansing tears. I am so close to closure I can taste it. The time I lost is gone forever but the here and now is mine for the taking. I will approach my new life with passion and zeal always remember the lessons these 15 years have taught me. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to have experienced everyday of the last 15 years. Even my worst days have helped me to cherish the peace and joy I know is mine for the taking.

I am so blessed. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.

Namaste, My Friend. I bid you peace.

P.S. – How could I forget this?

A million-bazillion thanks to all of you who have loved me, supported me, encouraged me, fed me, counseled me, hugged be, housed me, laughed with me, at me, fussed at me, walked with me, cried with me, prayed with me, for me through all of this. Thank you and I can never express how much I love you for it. I would never, ever have gotten to this place of freedom without my absolutely, fabulously amazing friends and family.

To my family, I love the HELL out of each and every one of you. I love you so hard I can’t stand it. You have put up with me in ways no one else will ever know. Thank you for loving me when I was an ass and you couldn’t understand why. Thank you for hearing the whole story, all of the gory details and still loving me. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves with me and getting dirty as we started to deal with a bunch of family stuff I know I stirred up. Thank you for not holding all of my holier-than -thou~ness against me.

A special thank you to Ericka, Greg, Tania, Kwesi, Johnetta and Donnie. You guys gave me a place to lay my head while I figured it all out. I would not have made it without peaceful places to breathe. Thank you so much for everything. I love you all very much.

Thank you to all of you who’ve read my blog since 2005 and encouraged me through all of this. I have gained such strength from so many of you. If I begin to name you all I’ll forget someone, but at that risk–thank you Susan, Chani, Jali, Debbie, HDW, Elle, Tanique, Tanilan, India, Crankster, Macarena, Eslocura, RG, Island Spice, Gela, Andy (my next husband) and CP. You have all touched my life through your writing and sharing. I share this victory with you.

And finally, to the Academy…

…well, my time is up. Thank you.

Unlove

A few days ago, LarryLilly at nasty8nice.blogspot.com (that one was worth spelling out) left the following comment in reference to divorced couples:

Its amazing to me how two people who once each hung the sun for the other can become so pissed at each other as to void all rational thought and disperse any charm LOL

And yesterday my insurance agent called to see how things turned out in court. He wrapped up our conversation with:

It’s is none of my business what went wrong in your marriage, but after that much time, there must have been something to keep you around. I don’t know what made you say “enough is enough”, but somewhere in there there’s a person you knew and loved.

And since I’m not one to duck a call to introspection when I hear it, I decided to look within to see if I can explain this thing, first to myself and then to anyone else who cares.

There was a time when the sun rose and set upon Ex. I remember lying next to him in bed, lovingly smoothing his eyebrows as I watched him sleep. I loved the smell of his hair as he snuggled at my breasts, me rubbing his head until he fell asleep. I remember the freckle on his earlobe that I loved to kiss and nibble. I loved the times when our living room became the great meeting of the minds as we debated and contemplated opposing viewpoints on a subject. I was endeared by his incredible goofiness despite others’ annoyance by it. We played hard. He nurtured the whimsical part in me that desired to throw caution to the wind and just live in the moment. We loved each other most of the time. Yet I have come to realize with more clarity than ever before in my life that love, indeed, is a choice.

In my case I chose to love him despite many flaws–in him, in me and in our union. I am not so naive as to believe that one person can shoulder the responsibility of a relationship’s demise. Neither am I so naive as to imagine that my version of our reality is by any means objective. I observed the train wreck from one-side of the street, he from the other. Some aspects of our accounts coincide. Most do not. That’s life and perspective.

For a flawed person to love and live with a flawed someone else requires that one concedes some things, sacrifices some things, ignores some things, silently stews over some things and just gets over some things. It means that one chooses to be gentle, kind, open, honest, giving, accepting and nurturing. I believe these are the choices of love.

As with any choice, I believe love requires that one weighs the pros and cons to one’s personal well being. If I choose to sky dive, I will first consider the risks to life and limb and then the thrill of fulfilling a dream (or the rush of adrenaline, whichever). At some point I have to make a choice that finds a reasonable decision point among two competing interests. I have chosen to preserve my life and limbs and find thrills closer to the ground.

It was the same with my marriage. When I concluded that the risks of the relationship outweighed the benefits to my personal well-being, I chose to stop loving him. I never chose (and still have not chosen) to hate him. My choice not to love him turned that goofiness into annoyance, that whimsy into irresponsibility and the desire to meet in the middle to somehow mitigate competing interests into (at times) an all out battle of the wills.

My choice not to love him goes hand in hand with my choice to love myself, to take care of myself, to look out for myself. Too many people think of this as selfishness. I’m very sorry for them. I am coming to embrace who I am. When who I am and who he is cease to be compatible, it’s time to part ways. There is no way for him to be him and me to be me and there not be fireworks at our house on a daily basis. We have ceased to bring out the good in one another and therefore it’s over. No judgment. No blaming. No pity. We aren’t good for each other. It’s done.

The choice to stop loving him came about much more slowly than my choice to love him. This, of course, greatly informs how I approach love going forward. It took time for me to say I was done, that I had loved him all that I could and to free myself from that which felt like duty. I got pissed with him when I loved him, real pissed. I get pissed with him now, real pissed. The difference is that now I don’t feel compelled to find common ground. I don’t feel like I have to say, “I’m sorry.” I don’t feel like things have to get back on the right track.

So, pissed isn’t new. Believe me, Larry, there were many days when we were “in love” that I wanted to drown his sun in water. It’s just that in the end of a marriage when there are loose ends to tie up, entanglements to unravel, checks and papers to sign, it becomes apparent how competing our interests are. He’s out for himself and I’m out for me. Perhaps couples have dissolved a marriage more civilly. I certainly wanted to. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Perspective is a bitch. It makes things really difficult too when conversation has been reduced to faxed letters and voice mails between attorneys. But it’ll be over soon. What can I say?

Thanks for making me think about this.

Any thoughts, Guys?

P.S. – And let me just say now ( so that I don’t have to say it later when the comment comes) that I still love him in the sense that he is part of humanity and I wish him well. I think you will agree that this is a different love than the love between a husband and wife. This love doesn’t cost me anything. It allows me to just let him be as I try to do with all others with whom I disagree.