Its is now 12 months almost to the day since I ended my relationship
I have come a LONG way since then
Back then it was a huge burst of frustration and anger: the culmination of several years of unhappiness, increasing frustration, and inability to communicate that drove me to change to lock on my front door and call time on what I had hoped/ believed would be my relationship for life. I knew it was right, a bit like stopping drinking, but It had been very hard to do.
I surprised almost everyone with that decision. Even my closest friend K, who had listened and held my frustration and anxiety over the destructive elements at home had not expected me to be so abrupt and determined; I think my brother (perhaps) was the only one who was less surprised. He knew, to some extent, all was not well and he knows that I can be pushed a LONG way, but that eventually I will snap.
Back then, I was so sad about it. Back then I thought I had a loving partner who although he had some problems with my children; problems with his business / earning a living; problems with his relations with his own children; was basically a lovely man who I just couldn’t get through to.
I see him very differently now. Now I see what others saw. I see what K saw, my brother saw, and bless them for their diplomacy in not ever trying to force me to see what I could not, until I was ready.
Now I see a bullying, insecure man who at least borders on narcissism. I see a man with delusions of grandeur and arrogance that mean that he listens to NO ONE, talks a LOT about respect and integrity but has none himself. Now I see a man who probably had such an issue with my eldest son because he saw reflected back at him some of his most deeply unattractive traits. I see a man who had so little regard for me, that despite the fact I had 100% financially supported him for 5 years, refused to even TRY and support himself financially when I struggled to service the debt I had incurred by taking on HIS responsibilities. I see a critical, unkind, self absorbed person, unwilling (or unable) to compromise on anything, and I shudder.
The best decision I made in the immediate aftermath of the split was to find a therapist I could work with. I saw one, who I am sure was perfectly competent, but I felt no empathy. Then I saw Angela, my current therapist and knew that here was someone who could ‘cope with’ me (Because I recognise that I’m not the most straightforward, with my alcohol addiction, eating disorder, propensity to attract men who are damaged / damaging) – but ‘cope with’ me in a kind and supportive way. I knew I needed this support and space to be honest, to be able to hold on to the decision I had made.
In retrospect I can’t believe I was only about 24 weeks sober when I did this. Of course I was committed to being sober, and of course I had negotiated the very hard early days.. but 24 weeks ?? That seems very early in sobriety to me now, to make such a big change to my life and expect me to see it through. Reflecting on it, I’m proud of myself that I did it, and prouder that I a) stuck to it and b) stayed sober.
For several months I struggled with the decision, I ‘knew’ in my heart it was right (at least for the children) but struggled to recognise or accept that I too had been badly treated, that I deserved better. With patience, lots of conversations, reflective discussions, and time – I came to see exactly that. That he treated me very badly – the emotional abuse he dished out was not confined to my children ( not by along chalk); that expecting to be ‘fully funded’ by another adult rather than pulling your own financial weight is a form of abuse in itself (if not a negotiated and shared decision between a couple), I tried ‘seeing’ him a bit in the early part of this year – coffee here and there, the odd day out / walk with the dog. One part of me enjoyed this, but there remained a part of me that felt uncomfortable; and eventually at LAST I recognised that there were things done (or actually not done) that I could not forgive. More than that, it was ok that I could not forgive them. That I had a right to my own boundaries and he had crossed them, I had a right to say ‘no’ that is not acceptable TO ME.
Oh yes, I have come a LONG way. And this shows in many other aspects of my life. I dont always find it easy, but I’m learning to set my boundaries with my kids, my mother, and my work colleagues. Im learning (about 30 years late) that it is healthy to respect yourself, your time, your person, your beliefs.
Angela said to me, early in my therapy with her that she had heard a good expression, that when you are psychologically ‘well’ with good boundaries and a healthy self respect ‘What is not good for you wont LOOK good to you’. All through the Winter and Spring I wondered why ExP still ‘looked good’ to me… it was because I was focussing on his negative features with respect to my children, not with respect to ME …. once I “got” the latter – he no longer looks ‘good’ to me in any way, shape or form.
Life is immeasurably better now. I have learned to be more open with people close to me, and to ask for help when I need it. I have been on a couple of dates, and decided I can’t be bothered at the moment! My kids are happier, my home is calmer, I am restarting painting classes next Month. I will continue with my therapy – I don’t know how long for, but you don’t correct the poor self esteem from many years in a short year… I will stay sober and I will build myself, am building myself, a contented, safe, peaceful home.
I do, actually genuinely feel proud of myself for achieving this. HE said I would never cope without him… well I have, I am and I will continue to do so.
Not any more……