Monday, April 27, 2015

My Life Felt Like a Blank Street Sign


That is such an ugly word, not matter how one looks at it. Most people don't get married thinking "I'll just get divorced if I don't like it." At least I know I didn't.

When I married my first husband it really was until death do us part, or so I thought. Our wedding day was one of the most wonderful days of my life. I remember a family friend saying that the way I felt on my wedding day was the happiest I would ever be.

She was right. Until the birth of my first child, and then my second.

By the time my daughter was born, I knew the marriage wasn't working. I tried to ignore the feeling in my gut telling me it wasn't meant to be. The joy and excitement of my child's birth simultaneously covered and highlighted my doubts. I don't believe my then husband was ready to be a father. He liked the sound of it, and he loved our daughter, but he wasn't ready for the responsibility. Everything fell on me. The laundry, the cooking, the grocery shopping, the bill paying, the cleaning, the childcare. All the while he spent most of his spare time playing video games. I was exhausted and I felt utterly used and taken for granted.

I tried everything to get him to see how his actions, or lack thereof, were making me feel. I tried talking to him, yelling at him, crying, writing letters. It would seem to sink in for a week or two and then the old habits would start creeping back in. My life felt like a blank street sign. I was there, I was visible, but there was nothing to see.

I remember about three weeks before I was due to go back to work I was trying to get my ex to bond with our daughter. The way our schedules were meant that he would be with her two and a half days during the week, my mother would have her the other two and a half days and I would have her on weekends. I went out to lunch one day with my mother as a trial run to leave him on his own with the baby for a while. The fridge was full of pumped breast milk, nursery was stocked with diapers and wipes and off I went. Not even 30 minutes after I had left did he start calling me to see how long I was going to be. She was crying. She wouldn't eat. He couldn't calm her. I needed to come home.

I was devastated. It was the first time in almost 12 weeks I had been out without having our baby with me. I just wanted to run away and cry.

When our daughter was six-months-old I found out I was pregnant again. Yes, I'm part of the 1% of women who gets pregnant on the pill. I was not happy at all. It wasn't like with our daughter when I screamed from the bathroom "We're pregnant!! We're pregnant!!" as I went running downstairs waving the stick in the air. I was pissed, scared and angry. How could this happen? I was on the pill. We had barely had sex since the birth of our daughter.

As soon as I told my ex he was ecstatic. He got a big goofy grin across his face and exclaimed how wonderful it was. I told him he was crazy. It wasn't wonderful at all. What the hell were we going to do? We could barely afford the one we had. How were we going to afford to have two babies in daycare? I would have to stop working, we would have to sell one of our cars and find somewhere cheaper to live. I hadn't dropped all the baby weight from the first, now I was going to be even fatter. I could not look past all my fears and doubt to the pregnancy for what it was - a blessing, a miracle, a gift from God...blah...blah...blah.

Another baby was not something I wanted, but I bit the bullet and got on with it. I told my mother, who wasn't happy. She knew things weren't good between my ex and I, she knew we couldn't afford another and she knew what a delicate state I was in emotionally. I was run ragged. But the months went on, I got bigger, I saw the heartbeat during the ultrasound, started to feel movement, and found out we were having a boy on our daughter's first birthday. Again my negativity started to be masked by the natural bond I was forming with my unborn child.

I stopped working a month before my due date. I wanted to spend a little time alone with our daughter before having to turn all my attention to a newborn. I felt incredibly guilty about not being able to have spent more one-on-one time with our first born before bringing another child into our lives.

In the year after our son was born, we moved twice. Once in to a horrible house I didn't want to live in to begin with, but agreed to because it was cheaper that our previous place, had a screened in pool and a big back yard. What we didn't know was the bathroom was infested with roaches (I discovered that the first time I turned the faucet on in the tub), the pool was overrun with snakes and there was a pitbull living next door who would come under the fence and growl and bark at us through the kitchen door. We lived there for five months before moving. A month after that I told my husband I was no longer in love with him. Three months later our son turned one and the following month my husband finally moved out.

I battled with myself for ages over what do do. Should I tell him I wanted out? Should I just make it work for the kids' sakes? Then one morning after months of getting a nervous knot in my stomach when I realized he was due to arrive home from work in less than an our, and instinctively pulling away whenever he tried to show me affection, I realized that if I was going to do it all on my own, I may as well literally do it all on my own.

After he moved out, he admitted to me that he had been having an affair from roughly two months after we met until about four months before our wedding. We were together for almost two and a half years before we got married. It was with his ex, the one he was with before me. He had also slept with his best friend's sister when I had been out of town visiting my parents. I was devastated. What was the point in him telling me that now? We were over, he had moved out. I realized it was simply to make himself feel better, to clear his conscience. There was absolutely no benefit to me in him telling me about it. One last selfish move.

Over the following two years, I went from thinking that no one would ever want an almost-thirty, divorced mother of two, to realizing that I still had a lot to offer. Those two years ended up being two of the best years of my life. I had no money and basically no help from my ex - financial or with the kids - but my babies and I were healthy and we loved each other. We were happy. We were a team. We did everything together.

I also found time to date. I was reminded that I was still attractive and desirable. Men still wanted me, kids or not. I dated younger guys, an old flame from childhood, a musician. It was when I started a new job that I met my now husband. I was drawn to him the moment I first laid eyes on him. Little did I know that my boss was also his brother, or that he had dated someone else in the office who I would have to continue to see, day in and day out, knowing that she had thought she had broken his heart not long before. He was also divorced and a father of twin girls who are a year older than my daughter. This coworker was the fist relationship he had been in since separating from his wife and, like me, he had needed to feel alive again. He needed the attention that he had so long gone without from his ex. He was never truly in love with her, just as I was never truly in love with any of the men I dated until I met him. But for a while he thought he was and she hurt him.

I remember after we had been dating for about three weeks, he told me they had been together for a brief period. I couldn't stand her face, her voice or anything about her. She tried to keep some drama going between them but I chose to ignore it. I knew that feeding into it wasn't going to help anyone. He and I have never spoken about it, and I suppose we should as I still harbor quite a bit of resentment over the whole situation and I do have some unanswered questions, but it is in the past, we have both moved on, and part of me feels that is how it should stay. I'm not sure what good it would do either of us at this point to bring it up.

My husband and I have definitely not had a perfect, bump free relationship. We have certainly had our fair share of problems and obstacles to overcome. But we have managed to get through them all. Surgeries, unexpected pregnancies, struggles and court dates with exes, problems with children, financial worries. You name it, we've probably dealt with it. There are a lot of people who wouldn't have been able to handle it. It would all have been too much and they would have thrown in the towel. Somehow, it has made our relationship even stronger. I am more in love with my husband now than I was in the beginning.

When I look back on everything I realize that, as awful and devastating as divorce is, things will get better. Life carries on and, if you choose to allow it, it can be amazing. Full of adventure, self rediscovery, love and affection.

I didn't marry my first husband with the intention of ever divorcing him. When we married I was truly in love with him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Having children with him showed me a side of him that I had known all along, but chosen to overlook. He is an amazing father to our children now. He is there for them and has stepped up to the plate in a way I never thought possible. Divorcing him was the single most difficult decision I have ever made, but it was also the best.

My children now live in a home filled with love and affection that wouldn't be there if their dad and I had stayed together. They have a beautiful baby sister and two wonderful stepsisters. Their family has doubled with people who love them. Most importantly, I am happy and loved. Without a happy mother, my children's chance of happiness would be so much less.

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