Estrangements in the News, June 3, 2006

The Bottom Line - Part 4 of 4

The End of the Line - 1984. Part 3 of 4

Part 3 of 4: The End of the Line for the Marriage: 1984

In January of 1984 I realized that I HAD to leave him. I didn’t want to hurt him any more. He begged me to stay. I knew that I had to get on with my life. I didn’t leave him for anyone else. I left him because I knew that we weren’t right for each other and that the pain was going to continue. I left him because my friend had died in an unhappy marriage and I wasn’t going to die in an unhappy marriage if I could help it. I would die alone if necessary but not in an unhappy marriage. I left.

My ex was very bitter and angry over my leaving. I lived for a time at the house of a woman friend and I cried buckets of tears. I bored another friend on the phone for hours with my grief, angst, sadness and worry . I took a small apartment in another town and felt terrible that it didn’t have a room for my daughter. I was afraid of being destitute and chose a tiny apartment with a tiny rent and a refrigerator that wasn’t in the kitchen but accessible by going through a bathroom, unlocking a door, and going into the cellar.  I had a table in the kitchen that was folded flat to the wall when not in use.

I renewed my romance with the man who is now my husband and moved in with him in the fall of 1984. The move was my first time away from the area where I grew up and I was scared but what else is new? Being scared had already cost me far too much. So many things I never did or tried because I was scared or shy. I had almost left my ex in 1982 but had restrained myself. It might not have mattered in the long run. Perhaps I should have left in ‘82 and not waited.

Before making the decision to leave my daughter’s father, I saw the world in black and white terms. There was wrong and there was right and I didn’t think that there was any in-between. Once I decided that I wanted a divorce, I started talking with other people. These were people I knew whom I had never talked with on such a personal level before. I learned that many people whom I admired did things about which I had no clue. They were still nice people! I still liked them even after learning how different their lives were from what I had thought. I learned how much real life is like a soap opera! When I began to talk with others, they told me their deep dark secrets. I had had no idea!

I learned that the world is composed of shades of grey as well as black and white and that it can be confusing as to what is good and what is bad. Things are not always as clearcut as I had thought. During that time of getting ready to leave I learned how to make closer friendships out of the friends I already had. I learned that life can be complicated. I learned that feelings are not always as cooperative as we’d like them to be. I learned that in order to have a satisfactory life I had to take risks and do what I thought was best and not try to make everyone else happy.

I learned that sometimes affairs of the heart can be tremendous opportunities to grow. I learned that it is dangerous to ignore my feelings for years and years and do nothing as my deceased friend had done.

I learned that once we die, our opportunity to make a decision dies too. My friend who had died had cared about a man who had been her platonic friend. He had died too a couple of years before she died. He had been in his thirties. It was a sudden unexpected death. Life is truly short.

So I made my decision. I left my daughter’s father. My ex stated that he hoped that we would remain friends. That was something that I hoped for too. I moved away to another state and moved in with the man to whom I am now married. Then over the next two years a few things happened. My ex met someone new. I got angry that he didn’t return two books of mine, books that were of high sentimental value. I wrote my ex a furious letter in which I told him I had no respect for him and a few other things that singed the page on which I wrote them. I found a copy of this letter around here not long ago. It still smokes! My ex stopped talking to me after receiving that letter.  He has refused to talk to me ever since then. He remarried in the spring of 1986. I remarried later that same year. I sometimes wonder where those two books are. One was a Swedish cookbook. The other was my favorite book of children’s stories from my childhood.

It would have been healthier if we could have remained on speaking terms. Not because I needed to have my ex in my life or because he should have kept in contact with me. It would have been healthier for us all because we were PARENTS. I wish he could have put his personal animosities aside and thought of the best interests of our daughter. He wasn’t able to do that.

Some ironies in all of this are that he told me shortly before I left that he hadn’t felt love for me ever. He called his feeling for me an “attachment disorder”. Why someone would be so angry when they never loved the person who is leaving them is a mystery to me. I would have thought that he might be happy to have been left!

A mutual friend told me once that if my ex were happy that he would have been able to talk with me. I believe that. I feel sorry for him that he isn’t able to speak with me. Now his daughter won’t talk to him. I do feel sorry for him. I certainly don’t feel sorry that I left! I don’t miss him. I don’t need to be on speaking terms with him. I do wish he had seen that there were higher priorities than his own personal feelings towards me. Like the higher priority of us both being her parents and being able to remain as parents to our daughter even if not married. That is why I was so angry at him for so long over his not talking to me. Not because of ME. Because of our daughter!

I think that any parents who are going to separate and divorce are doing their kids a kindness if they can put aside their personal bitterness and be civil towards each other for their kids’ sake.

To be continued ...

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