April 29, 2017 was the night that my life would be forever altered. It was the night of a dear friend's birthday dinner. The entire night my husband was distracted. He really seemed like he didn't want to be there. We were spending an evening with our best friends. How could he not have fun? After the dinner, we went home. I couldn't let it go that something seemed really wrong. I asked the question 'are you okay?' His response was one that I would have never guessed in my entire life. He simply said 'I'm not happy.' My heart started beating rapidly because deep down I felt my world shift. I did not quite understand what he meant. So I asked further questions. Are you not happy with work? Are you not happy with something I've done? He looked at me and stated 'I'm not in love with you.' Those five words were like a knife in my chest. I instantly felt like I was in a horrific dream.
Over the next several months, I tried and tried to desperately hold my marriage together. Deep down I knew it was over. It is hard to hold onto a relationship when the other person is already done with it. At the beginning of January 2018, he moved out. We had made the decision together that it would be best. We told our children together after Christmas that this was what their new future looked like. Mom and dad would no longer be in the same house. I worked so hard to shield my children from the hurt and pain that I was feeling. I had done a great job since they were completely blindsided by the news. Looking back, I don't know that I would have done anything different. I was struggling to come to terms with my marriage that I couldn't have possibly been able to communicate to my children what was happening.
The first weekend alone was heart wrenching. I have really never been without either my husband or my children. To know that they were only a few miles away was truly devastating. They are having fun and enjoying each other while I am sitting on my sofa crying my eyes out. It was the first time in my life that I felt alone. Really alone. My house was completely silent. It was the first time in my life when I thought the pain was too great to endure. It was the first and last time that I had considered ending my life. While that thought lasted far longer that it should have, I knew that I didn't want to leave my children. They did not need to move through their life with the knowledge that their mother wasn't strong enough. I didn't want my husband to have the burden of my life ending due to the pain caused by the collapse of our marriage. It would truly have been selfish of me to leave him with that. The only thing I knew to do was to get out of the house. I went to see a movie. Alone. It was the second time in my life that I had went to a movie alone. Over the next few months going to a movie alone was my escape from reality. I was able to watch other people in their made up worlds dealing with issues or making me laugh. I desperately needed to laugh.
After several months of living apart, we made the decision to move forward with divorce. It was such a hard decision. We are both happier living separately. As much as I wanted to say that we worked through the hard things and we are on the other side together, we just couldn't make it work. There were too many things over the years that had put each of us in an unhappy state. Since we've separated, we have each individually worked on ourselves and continue to do so each day. I signed up for a half Ironman race for October. Really what better way to move through heartbreak than to exhaust myself on a daily basis for months. Just in case you aren't familiar with a half Ironman, it is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile (half-marathon) run. Part of signing up for the triathlon is to prove to myself that I can do very hard things and come out the other side stronger. As I've learned first hand, divorce will do the same thing. The biggest thing moving through a divorce for me was that I didn't want to be bitter. I still care for my now ex-husband. You can't spend 19 years with a person and not still have feelings. I will always have feelings for him. I want happiness and joy for him even though we could no longer find it together. I need to be able to look at my children and know that I did my best through this process. So often children are the real losers in this situation. That was learned from my own childhood.
Through all of the ups and downs and the final decision to divorce, the one constant has been the incredible women in my life. They are truly a gift. Somehow they could magically feel me having a low moment and I was invited to yoga or dinner or a simple text just checking in with me. Without those ladies, I don't know if I would've made it through the heartbreak. I've showed up in tears on front porches or called crying for someone to come over. Not once has anyone let me down. The texts, phone calls and in person conversations that have shown me grace and love are truly something that I will never take for granted or forget. I hope one day to repay the kindness to each of my friends.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train coming at me. While I am still figuring out how to be divorced, I am okay. This isn't something that killed me. Some days I thought it would. It didn't. I am definitely stronger than I ever thought I would be or frankly have to be. Looking back, I am grateful that my ex-husband took the first step to say that he's not happy. Had we stayed in our unhappy marriage, I know things would have turned bad or hurtful. If you want to know who is to blame for our marriage ending, it was both of us. Not him or me, but both of us. Any relationship is a living, breathing being of its own. If you forget to take care of it every day not just birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, it will perish. Unfortunately, I learned that lesson the hard way. While divorce is not something that I would immediately encourage only the couple knows if it's right for their life, I am no longer afraid of it. I am on the other side alive and happy.