“Most people tend to notice other people’s energy and actions before they notice their own. They become preoccupied with what others are doing or not doing, projecting their ideas about why they are that way. They carry on with criticism or comparisons, while their deeper feelings go unattended.” – Doc Childr and Deborah Rozman
Sometimes I think I’m attending deeper feelings when I’m really focused upon my reactions to others. It’s easy for me to confuse the two things. Yesterday while I was filing for divorce, I was focused upon what my daughter’s mother might do once she receives the document.
Filing a divorce is one of the most anticlimactic events I’ve ever experienced, like amputating an arm or a leg. In the beginning phase of my separation I rode on a wave of anger and indignation that provided fuel. I looked forward to the day when I could break with the past and just move on. However, ending a relationship looks easier from a distance even when the marriage is harmful.
However, the final showdown doesn’t ring victory, since only you experience the scourge of a bad marriage and there’s no one to applaud your determination one way or the other. You plod along as an “unsung hero”. Your head fills with contradictory feelings that you can’t imagine. Even though your ex “partner” is messed up, you still feel compassion for her. It’s not the kind of compassion that says, “let’s get back together”, but it still fits in the category of compassion.
When you file divorce papers you feel empty and you wish you had some company, but you also know that dependency doesn’t make you any less lonely. Sometimes you need to take measures against a destructive relationship and take it to its logical conclusion even when you don’t feel the drive to do it. Yes, it may be easier when you have an external prop like a new love to distract you – at least as a temporary fix.
The obstacles ahead frighten me. My soon-to-be ex still has a way of psychologically making me feel responsible for what goes wrong (I know the problem is mine assigning more importance than she deserves). I fear she will find loop holes, postponing her job hunt or whatever. It’s her way of saying, “Well, if I can’t have my way (married to you), I’ll make life as difficult for you as I can.” It’s similar to the story of the two women who disputed before King Solomon. The mother who rolled onto her newborn (thus crushing him or her) wanted compensation at any cost – even if it meant stealing or cutting another baby in half. Some people feel a sense of entitlement that someone else has to pay the cost…
I think divorce has taken on a symbolic meaning to me beyond the need for closure. It also has taken the added significance of laying down some long overdue boundaries – with the subtext that reads, “I’m assuming my responsibility. How about you? ” It may also mean I’m ready to take on more responsibility – other than financial – willing to take care of my dear daughter in the event that my daughter’s mother has to work longer hours.
Doc Childr and Deborah Rozman in their book, “Overcoming Emotional Chaos” explain how we spend much of our emotional energy carelessly and have never been taught emotional self-care. We don’t even know where to begin or how to start. How true this has been in my life. My way of dealing with prolonged emotionally draining situations has been to sit the valley of indecision, hoping the problem will work itself out (while making the problem only worse and more ingrained). I want to stay in limbo, not wanting to finish what I started. Perhaps this is because I have yet to learn how to mourn the loss of a relationship I never really had, involving a different kind of process than someone who faces a loss where love once thrived.
My therapist once said I needed to mourn my relationship with my soon-to-be ex even though it was painful and destructive. I didn’t understand what relevance there could be mourning for a bad marriage — why would I mourn for someone who never valued me for who I truly was? The therapist explained that there is another kind of loss that has to do with mourning for what could have been, but never unfolded. I learned that day that there is another kind of relational loss.