I felt more reasonable yesterday. That almost drunk / out of control feeling is starting to wear off as the shock of what my ex has done starts to dissipate. I still get a ringing in my ears and thoughts of calling his bestfriend up and telling him everything go whirring about my head but then I realise that I will just get further embroiled in the mess that my ex is creating. Its toxic. What helped me do that? Well it was composing and email to my stbx friend where I told him everything, I got it out. Its all on paper. It wasn't the sending it (which I didn't) that mattered, it was just that I had it bottled up inside and it really needed an outlet.
I finally felt well enough again to start writing my lists, which is a coping mechanism I engaged in after the initial break. It really helps. The result of which had me doing all my laundry, watering my plants and sorting through my emails. Its the emails that were the hardest part. 10yrs of emails between my ex and I. I started with the most recent one, the day we broke up, I felt a surge of validation. He was emailing me saying he loved me, using my nickname and saying he couldn't wait to come home and cook dinner with me lots of kisses hugs and telling me he missed me. Little did I know that was the evening he would leave. I just kept thinking 'how can you go from such a kind and loving partner in the morning to someone with seemingly no feelings and completely cold in the evening?' So I continued on through the emails all the while believing that they would somehow make me out to be the 'put upon wife' and him the 'uncaring monster' because it is easier to believe that. It is easier to be angry at someone rather than to take a hard look at yourself. So I continued on and I found emails from me where I am SO clingy, where I am complaining about problems and all he is trying to do is to help. Where he is imploring me to speak to someone and trying to calm me down if I had a too stressful day with the terrible manager I had a the time. Don't get me wrong I am also aware that he had a massive role to play: he would put me down, keep on telling me I had emotional issues, comparing me to other people who seemed more together, when I do come up with ideas to change things he would come up with reasons why they wouldn't work, he spent more time on his phone or concentrating on his hobbies than me and the effort he put into the relationship was minimal at best. Neither of us were angels, neither of us was completely innocent. So I wrote an email to my old therapist, I only sent it to myself. As you may have realised writing is really healing for me. Here is the letter with names changed for privacy:
I know I can't afford to speak with you anymore but I needed to speak to someone: I have a feeling I've leaned on my friends & family a little too much over the last couple of weeks and so I shall resort to sending the emails again. You have already equipped me with so many wonderful coping mechanisms that I am starting to feel 'normal' mere days after the harrowing experiences of the last few weeks. I knew I was stronger than I realised, but hadn't had the opportunity to test it. I have been living in a fluffy world or praise, love and acceptance. That was until my ex came back into my life and started to (unintentionally) tear down the confidence and strength that I had so carefully built. BUT with your help I am feeling almost back to where I was before he came back into my life, I will be eternally grateful to you for helping me recognise my worth.
I have found cleaning cathartic: can really help me 'clear my head'. So today I decided to tackle the 750+ emails that are sitting pitifully in my inbox. Going through them and putting them into nice neat little folders so that they are easy to find in the future. In doing so I finally got around to the text filter 'Jack' it was with my breath held that I came across this and many similar emails. Each one making me feel a little more ill. I really was such hard work: I don't even recognise the person I became. Time and time again I open the emails in horror of the things I will find, a glimpse at the person my soon to be ex-husband had been living with certainly from when we got married in 2012. He tried over and over to encourage me to become the person I am today but it wasn't until he took himself (my crutch) away that I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. That must have been as heartbreaking for him as it was for me. To see me grow, change, flourish, build a better life with more people, stronger mental footing (thanks to you) and more activities in it. Its what he always wanted for me and whilst he may not have gone about it in the right way but his intentions for me were always good.
I also want to express to him that he should have tried to speak frankly with me about how he was falling out of love with me. How I had become so clingy that I was no longer the person he had fallen in love with even if it meant hurting both of us, he should have spoken up. I truly believe that with couple and individual therapy we could have built a marriage that was stronger than ever. Given both of our histories neither of us had the tools to make it work. We had the love there, just no understanding of how to make a marriage work.
Now we find ourselves at the end, with so much water under the bridge it would take the hoover damn to stop this divorce. Its okay. You taught me that. We both made mistakes, given our histories it would have taken a miracle for this marriage to work. Though I do feel like a failure. I look at these emails and wish I had a time machine. I wish I could go back and shake the person who wrote the above and tell her the horrors that were to come if she didn't buck her her ideas: that she would loose the love of my life, that he would feel his only option was to leave as nothing was going to change, we would become strangers to one another, he would end up suicidal and unable to live with all the changes and decisions he made, that I would be crying at my computer looking at all the things that I / we had done and that we would both end up hating ourselves for ruining possibly the best thing that has ever happen to us. We were both in the wrong. But when only one person loves the only thing you have left to do is to let go and move on. I now understand the things my sister was trying to make me see. But its okay as he's not my crutch any more, I am stronger than ever. I know I can live without him and thrive. You taught me that. I will cry and 'lean into' the pain, I will accept and try to forgive my failings as it is the only way I can learn from them and move forward into happier healthier relationships and I will be happy again.
As for him: I reread the email I sent him recently, he is right about 85% of it is correct, though he also needs to understand this only made up 50% of our marital problems, I bought my share of issues too. I do worry though he continues to make the same mistakes of trying to live other peoples lives, in fact we ironically mirror eachother in that way (though I was pretty much living his life and not my own). He clings to strong male figures like a guy from his run club and tries to become just like them: his personality becomes more like there's, his body language adapts, he even so far as dressing like them (clothes / hair). His most recent is throwing himself into his friend John's life, he even went so far as to sleep with the person John was sleeping with, he also even went shopping and is now trying to dress like John! Its sad as he doesn't realise conversations I have had with John at parties where he says all he wants is what his friends have: to fall in love and to settle down. Ironically now Jack is emulating someone who wanted what he had. His therapist, like you, will probably see these patterns: luckily he is working on them now. He will also grow, learn and move on from this. Perhaps, like myself, a little sadder and a little more cautious than before. But hopefully a more well-rounded person.
I miss talking with you Jane. I love my friends and family but their emotional investment skews the advise they give me. Its shocking to me how people offer up advise on a marriage, when really all they should do is listen. I have read time and time again about people post divorce alone and miserable saying they wished they hadn't listened to people with 'good intentions' that if they could take back acting on the advise they would. People don't understand that during a divorce you are vulnerable and easily moulded like playdough: you blindly listen to advise because your brain is so overcome by emotion that you can't think straight or for yourself. It takes strength not to listen: Most recently I spoke with a close friend about looking at these emails: she said 'Jack is a manipulator and lies to make himself look better on a regular basis, he made you feel like you were nothing and then punished you for it. Delete all those emails and just get the hell away from him.' She is defensive of me but I had to respond and say 'No. I need to see these things, I need to feel guilty, I need to understand the part I had to play in all of this otherwise how will I ever grow, how will I ever change? I have made mistakes. They are not mistakes I wish to make again in my next relationship and if I continue to ignore those feelings and just blame Jack for his part to play then I will never fully heal' She remains silent. I understand her sentiment, I will delete everything and move on. But I can't, and wont, lay the blame entirely at his door. He isn't a bad person, narcissistic most definitely, but intentionally manipulative and evil? No.
Its okay though. I won't hear from him anymore. He knows now that I can't be friends. That whilst I am stronger and in a better place, perhaps than ever before, I can't (like him) switch off 10years of love. The lines are too blurred for me. He knows what he wants which is great it means he knows to stay away from me. But for me, I still think longingly of what could have been. That if he had had that bit more of a backbone, if he had realised that relationships aren't easy that feeling change grow and develop, that at times I wasn't sure I was in love with him but the feelings always came back, that adults have the hard conversations, that couples are stronger for going through such times and at the end of the day the person he hurt the most wasn't me, it was himself. But its okay. He doesn't love me on that he is certain, he was but no more. He also slept with god knows how many people so soon after the breakup. Its done. He won't contact me again and I am in the process of deleting every last memory of him from my computer and phone that I can move on. Happy days will certainly be here again.
So what will I do next I hear you ask - as you always liked to end our sessions on a high note! Well I start my course next week, there will be lots of people of a similar age there so I am sure that will help increase my social circle. I am even looking at local mixed sporting clubs (running, swimming, cycling, rowing) so that I can become more involved in the community and build new relationships. I've even managed to rope my friend Julie to join Meetup like you asked me to: I have my first group in a couple of weeks! I am slightly nervous about what 2016 has to offer, but thanks to you, my friends and my family I know that I can do anything. Because I am me and I have overcome so much and am still standing head held high.
Thank you for listening.
I felt better for writing the email. I felt better for the realisation of my part to play in the breakdown of my marriage.
Unfortunately I can no longer afford to go to therapy BUT I spent last night trying to be active. I looked on my companies intranet and have managed to get 5 free therapy sessions through work. I have also signed up to my local run club which I start on Monday plus I start my new course next week. I think I shall delete the first week of 2016 from history and say that the New Year starts on the 11 January!
I shall leave you with a quote I can't get out of my head today. I am not a religious person, though my mother is so perhaps that is where its coming from:
O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
The courage to change what can be changed,
and the wisdom to know the one from the other
Hi Honeybees - seems like you know where you are heading. After spending many many months trying to understand what had gone so badly wrong the above quote and the realisation that the only thing you can really change is yourself and your responses also helped me to walk away from an impossible situation. Best Wishes.