The last year of my life has been insane. Between health problems creeping up randomly, stress rearing its ugly head daily, having my identity stolen, and moving to a whole new state, I’m calling a “timeout” here. So much life has happened so quickly and handling it has not been easy. However, the very worst part of this past year was when I caught my ex-wife cheating on me with her yoga instructor. Breaking up an eight-year marriage in the process, she went her own way and decided she never wanted to speak with me again. Well, she has spoken to me through her hilarious discount attorney, but that doesn’t quite count. The reason why this has been the hardest part of my year so far is simple. I can’t take responsibility for most of these things, but I certainly need to take responsibility for my marriage ending.
this is how it all went down
I was visiting some friends in New Jersey last December. While I was away, the cat played. My ex-wife ‘Jenna’ did some “yoga” with her instructor. (Certainly, you can sense the sarcastic tone there.) I caught her, confronted her, and asked her to please excuse herself from our home while I worked through this. Little did I know at the time that she would move to a whole different state before I got home. I expected her to be gone, but I didn’t expect her to leave forever to a far away land. I was angry, upset, betrayed, and completely unwilling to take responsibility for the happenings of that night.
When I finally got home, the house was bare. All the places where her things used to be were now empty spaces. A house for two was now a home for one, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. So I laid on the couch depressed, napping and eating, for twelve hours a day every day. I would try to talk with her via iMessage occasionally because the truth is my thoughts were with her finding happiness more than me finding peace. I loved her for eight years and I wasn’t going to stop. From time to time we would check in on each other, taking some interest in each other building a new life.
Then one day she vanished. In her place was a quirky attorney who would be speaking on her behalf. I found the best attorney I could, and I joined the fray as required. I worked diligently to take responsibility for my own financial decisions during our marriage and made sure that she got more than her fair split in the divorce. I wanted her to have a great life wherever she goes next, even if that life wasn’t with me. Even as she cost me thousands of dollars in legal fees when we could have handled all this ourselves without attorneys for free, I still loved her and I wanted her to have every chance at happiness.
moving on takes more time than talent
I needed to move on. She was clearly never going to speak to me again, and the more we communicate through attorneys the more broke I get. It’s not easy though. It’s hard to explain, but the thought of telling someone else the things you told your spouse for almost a decade makes you feel like a complete poser. How could I ever say those same things to someone else and mean them after all we had been through? Seriously, that’s a question. I have no idea what the answer is. When I figure it out, I’ll write a post about it.
I realized that every passing day represented a little bit of healing, a little bit more happiness, and a little bit of hope. As the weeks went on, I was learning how to live alone for the first time in my life. I was learning how to better invest in other relationships since I had lost my best friend. I was learning how to do all the little things that she did to make our home great. (I suck at all of those little things, but I’m trying.)
The ultimate conclusion I had to come to here was, I can’t rush this. Moving on is going to take time. I can’t “get better” at moving on. It just needs to happen as it happens. I just wasn’t ready to date anyone, or re-arrange the house, or figure out where my life was going next. I just needed time.
moving on means taking responsibility
As I took the time I needed I realized, I needed to be taking responsibility first and foremost. Somewhere along my months of depression on my living room sofa, I recognized that the reason I was stuck was because I wasn’t taking responsibility. It wasn’t my fault our marriage ended, but it was my responsibility to keep it healthy. Clearly, I didn’t.
I was obsessed with the vision for my work, and I put that “body of work” in front of her needs far too many times. (The ultimate irony is that I’m now free to chase after my passions in a very dedicated way; we’ll call that a silver lining I guess.) I often made our life about my journey, instead of it being about our journey together. I didn’t give her enough time and attention, and altogether I was probably not a fantastic husband in the midst of our busy life.
Do I resent the fact that I had a vasectomy and gave up having a family for her? Sure, sometimes. Do I wish that I didn’t have $150,000 in student loan debt because I wanted to build a great life for her? Yeah, usually. Do I get angry over the fact that she invited someone into my house to end our marriage? Of course. Do I wish that I never married her at all? It depends on the day. I’m going to go with “yes” though.
The point is, the details are irrelevant. The details mean something to me in a material fashion, but moving on means taking responsibility. Moving on means giving up the details, and accepting that I contributed to this outcome. I made a mess, and she was a part of it. So while it’s not my fault, it is still my responsibility.
tell the truth about yourself, to yourself
In order to move on from tragedy in your life, you need to be able, to tell the truth about who you are to yourself in the mirror.
I was selfish.
I was a perfectionist.
I was obsessed with order and fine details.
I was brash.
I was ill tempered at times.
I was all sorts of things that I know led to the ultimate demise of my marriage.
The lesson here is this: Tragedy can be avoided if you take responsibility today, but if it’s too late, taking responsibility can help you move on twice as fast.Published in