Recently I received a great email from a cherished reader. Below is both the letter and my response (ok’d by the sender…consent is a good thing, people).
I recently came across your blog and I love it. I am also in a very similar situation, and find myself awake and confused most nights. During the day I tend to stay positive and focused on the task at hand. However it’s been almost 5 months and I still can’t sleep. When I discovered your blog I thought you may have some advice, or words to help me through. Just a little background…I moved to North Carolina 2 years ago to follow him and his career, we have 2 boys together (5 & 3), and have been married for 3 years, and as far as I was concerned things between us were great!! He came home one Friday and was acting very weird, Saturday morning he packed a bag after a huge fight and told me he wanted a divorce. Part of me really feels like there is more than he’s letting on, I think he may have been seeing someone. Anyway now that you have a little more of the story, it’s the events since that leave me looking for advice. Things between us have been very up and down, some days it’s like nothing ever happened, and other days it’s like I’m a stranger to him. Just as I was starting to let go a little, hurt a little less, and sleep a more. He did something I never seen coming. As I say alone on my couch prepared to spend Valentines Day with Ben & Jerry, I got a knock at the door and it was him with flowers asking if we could go out for dinner. We had an amazing night and when we got back to the house one thing led to another….and I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from there. I haven’t heard from him since he left that night!!! I feel so stupid, like who the hell does that, I mean the man left me and then I sleep with him!?!?! My mind is spinning. I don’t know what to do at this point, do I give up or keep trying?
Broken hearted & confused
Dear Broken hearted & confused,
Before we get into any of the nitty-gritty details of your email, I just wanted to say that you’ve already proven yourself to be a strong individual. Asking for help is hard…being open to suggestion in a time of need is even harder. So you’re already ahead of the game! Keep being a rockstar and I promise you’ll get through this intact (maybe even better than you started).
My biggest issue with people in relationships is that they never say what they’re really thinking. People think they’re being clear and concise with their requests and properly vocalizing any issues they may come across…but after going through counseling, I truly realized that I had zero idea what my husband wanted from me. Literally, zero. He would say things like: ” When I said that I wanted (insert thing here) what I was really asking for was (thing 2).” I was floored. How could it be that the man who taught me the ins and outs of communication was really a half-assed communicator when it came to his own needs? I think your husband might be in the same boat. They sit around and marinate in their own “thought stew” (sorry that’s like, super gross…lol), never taking the time to let you know what’s on their mind, nor giving you any chance to affect the situation. If there is more than he’s letting on, I think he most definitely owes you an explanation. Being in the dark is the worst. It’s not fair. It’s really not. But unfortunately it happens. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that’s not where your troubles lie currently, and I promise I’ll get to that shortly. Just bear with me. I tend to be long-winded…lol
I love that you’re keeping it together during the day…for you, and for your boys, (also, because they’re so young, this really might not have much effect on them at all…keep them talking about their feelings too. No bottling up on my watch!). Don’t forget to allow yourself to feel all of the things that I know you want to avoid. That’s all part of the healing process, and you’ll be better for it. Working through each feeling is going to continue to move you forward and bolster your self-confidence, your resilience and strengthen your resolve.
Now, have you been to any sort of therapist or counselor yet? They have amazing insight and allow you to vent without judgement and help us remove the obstacles that we, ourselves tend to place in the way of our personal growth. I highly recommend grabbing yourself one in your area. Getting my head straight has been great for me a person, as a woman, and as a mother.
Ok, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day…
Ben & Jerry are two of the most prominent men on my life, so I understand completely your need to include them on what I like to call “Single’s Awareness Day”. Your husband dropped by unexpectedly and swept you off to a phenomenal dinner and (ahem…cough…cough…) “dessert”. Unfortunately, it’s now two days later and you haven’t heard a word from him.
Let me begin by saying this: you are not stupid. One more time (louder): YOU ARE NOT STUPID! As a fellow ditched bitch, I know exactly what you’re going through. When he left you were broken, and any time he called or texted it was that little glimmer of hope that you needed to get through the day. But then they go and do something nice, and it feels very similar to when you were together and when (you thought) you were happy. Believe me, I’m right there with you. We want to hold on to that precious feeling of fleeting joy and that comfort that we know so well.
Then…nothing. I’m very familiar with this also. The “one moment things are great and the next we don’t speak or see one another” syndrome. The struggle is real.
Right now I bet you’re feeling used, and more than likely, exceedingly lonely. You relapsed and got hooked all over again. It’s perfectly natural to want to rediscover that place with the one you love. But please, remember one thing for me…don’t do it at the expense of your mental health. If it’s painful and it’s not leading toward a reconciliation, then it might be something you want to reconsider. If you’re actively working through things, then a healthy dose of time together is wonderful and probably just what the doctor ordered. If things are leaning toward booty call, then you might want to rethink your course of action.
The pros and cons of “rekindling” ~
This crap is hard.
You’ll learn a lot of things about yourself and your spouse that you don’t like.
You’re going to get angry.
You have to constantly work on yourself and your marriage.
Communication is so…freaking…hard.
In the end, it might not work…even though you busted your ass.
This might actually work.
You’ll be stronger in the end of everything does work out.
You have something to hope for.
No matter what you come out of it a better person.
You’ll know you did all you could.
To sum everything up, nothing worth having is ever easy, BUT (and this is a big but) don’t be the only one trying. You’ll run yourself ragged trying to fix everything and be everything to everyone. If your husband isn’t willing to move forward with you, then you need to be strong enough to let him go. There will come a day when you’ll know which way the wind truly blows. Take your time. You’re on no one’s schedule but your own. You don’t have to make any decisions until you’re ready.
Keep the lines of communication open. If he’s willing, try marriage counseling. You just focus on you and those boys of yours, and know that you’re not alone. Talk to friends, family, strangers, baristas, hobos…anyone who will listen. It’s so much easier to work through the hints when you’re able to bounce ideas and hear feedback from others.
Take it one day at a time.
And seriously, get some Tylenol PM or something. Sleep is the key to your mental wellness. Try some deep breathing or meditation techniques. These sort of things really helped me. Clear your mind of clutter and just relax (no matter how hard it seems).
You’ve got this. You really do. Keep your head up, and keep moving forward. Life is a series of moments, don’t let one bad one create chaos in your otherwise beautiful world.
All the best,
The Ditched Bitch