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The Archaeology Of A Marriage. 

We spent yesterday morning talking through why this was happening, what we meant to each other, we spoke of needs, of issues, of loneliness, dreams, faults. Our humanity and our love. And we spoke, with hopefulness, of a continued yet radically different, platonic love in the future. 

After he had packed up his truck and we'd hugged tightly, then said our goodbyes, it was shockingly painful. A howl from the very deepest place in my soul. It literally shook me.  That we couldn't make it work, anymore, after twenty years of doing so. That *I* couldn't make it be enough for me. It was then I realized that in our talk, we'd never spoken of guilt. Sure, it's nobody's fault. You can only give as much as you have, and sometimes people need more. But the guilt I felt for that need...that *more*, was mind-bogglingly heavy duty. 

So the sobs started, and didn't let up. I'd get myself under control, trying  to distract myself from the sudden deafening silence in the house, the uneasy feeling of him being gone, only to start the gut-wrenching water-works all over again. 

The rooms in the house, all slightly empty in various spots where he'd taken some thing or another felt--wrong. The house *feels* empty. Too big. Too quiet.  And yet he's still here even after he has left, little pieces, reminding me.

Yesterday also happened to be my brother's birthday. The STBX had given me a nice camera last year for my own birthday, and when he was packing, neither one of us could find it. So, knowing I was going to have to go and be horribly, falsely, happy, I started looking for the camera again, mostly to distract myself from the hot tears. 

Perhaps as mistake.

Looking for the camera had me in closets, in boxes, suitcases, and drawers...all filled with little pieces of our life together, filled with pieces of the relationship with the only man I've been with since I was 23 years old. 

In looking through the vanity drawers in our bedroom, it was like an archaeological dig through the years of our marriage. The vanity is beautiful and a family antique, but I'd never really used it as a vanity. Instead it has long been a catch-all in our bedroom, where pockets of change would go, or I'd end up stuffing things that just didn't have a home.  

The top layers represented recent history...Viagra and Cialias tablets, A Father's Day card to him from me in June, movie stubs from the last one we'd seen. A picture of us in the restaurant that we go to every year on our anniversary because we'd had our first date there. As I dug through all this, all these little moments kept flashing through my head...the Viagra failures, the hand-holding at the movies, our once again sexless anniversary this year-- arguments and good times, all shuffled together.  
And the guilt and doubt and fear kept rolling over me like a train. 

Then came the ancient past of our relationship...a handful of extra wedding invitations. The guest book. The card I'd stuffed into his tuxedo bag for him to read as he was getting dressed for the big day....the love expressed in that card that I knew would be forever...the dream. And finally, at the bottom, the first picture we'd ever taken together.

I sat on the bed with these relics of our history strewn about around me, and felt completely and utterly broken. A failure. Doubting my courage to go forward, doubting my decision to end it. Missing the comfort and joy and happiness of those feelings with him. Wondering how I was going to make it without the person I've lived with longer than anyone on the planet. But thankfully, there was one more small, almost insignificant layer. Of the time before him. Of my early adulthood. A few pictures from an old friends wedding, a paper I had written in college that had won a prize, a handful of beads my trip to MardiGras when I was 16. 

Thankfully there were joyful times before him. And, after I heal, hopefully there will be joy in my future. 

Never did find that camera...
msdamgoode msdamgoode 41-45, F 39 Responses Aug 6, 2012

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Thanks for the story. As I look around my own mostly empty house, bereft of the sounds of happy children, it does me good to see that others have survived this. And so can I.

Yes, XP. We can.

"...That *I* couldn't make it be enough for me. It was then I realized that in our talk, we'd never spoken of guilt. Sure, it's nobody's fault. You can only give as much as you have, and sometimes people need more. But the guilt I felt for that need...that *more*, was mind-bogglingly heavy duty." <br />
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MsDamGoode, please, PLEASE do not feel guilty for needing such a basic of adult human life, of married life. I admit I don't recall the details of your relationship, but so many of us here suffered for years with a spouse who would not even kiss us, hold our hand, or even touch us. We are not wrong for expecting more from our life partner. We are not wrong to walk away from emotional abuse. <br />
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It will take you a while to heal. Take the time to grieve the marriage. I hope you can have that successful platonic relationship with your ex ... but you may have to process a truckload of emotions before you are comfortable with that.

Thank you...it's been five years of hanging on, trying to make it *more*...and I do know this is the right thing to do. That everyone wishes they'd gotten out before they actually did in situations like this.
It's just like you said, going to take awhile to process.

Feel free to message, gesture...whatever. Your heart is going to feel like it was ripped in half for a bit. You WILL make it through today. Go VERY easy on yourself. If the house has too many memories, consider going to a movie (I recommend somewhere dark, where everyone can't check out that "just cried" look you're probably sporting :)<br />
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You're going to make it, and with each passing day, you're going to find a new appreciation for just how strong you are.<br />
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btw...beautifully written.

JP, I have been following your own journey, so reading this means more than you know. Thank you.

wow, I found this hard to read... I applaud your ability to let those feelings surface

Thank you. I didn't know if I'd share it or not when I wrote it in my journal, but I think I needed to put it here.

By sharing your experience, you're helping the next iliasm friend that's right behind you in the process...amazing how that works...{wink}

Exactly why I did it, JP...

I struggle with whether my marriage is worth saving or not. Would it be better if I started over. I love him dearly but things aren't as they should be between us. I'm more apt to find the good and stick it out than not, but something may change, one never knows. I read your story and wondered how I would feel if things come to that point. I'm not sure I can find those happy times before we were together for strength. I wish you the best at this difficult time. Please keep us posted.

Well, as I know Baz would say, our marriage was not good bar the sex. There were other things that led me to this decision. But I'm not gonna lie, it's painful no matter what.

You've been wounded but now the healing will begin and though it will take time each day will see a bit of new resilience coming back as the wound closes. The key is establishing the pattern for your new life and new habits for yourself. The problem now is that all your patterns have been broken which sets you totally adrift and humans hate that. So work on it do simple daily things to establish a rhythm to your life and it will comfort you. Eat breakfast at the same time and maybe read the paper or whatever you like to do but establish a pattern because it will make things seem more normal. Everyday things will seem a little quieter and more normal until at last you start to feel like you are living your own life again and just being yourself. It took me about three months to adjust completely and after that there were moments when I had relapses but they got farther apart over time. Eventually I got busy enough with living that it didn't matter much anymore and I new I was on my way again. You can do this just hang in there and give yourself some time to heal and be patient with yourself the wounds you are suffering from took years to inflict it will take some time to heal them.

I know, mentally, that it's the absolute right thing to do...emotionally *knowing* has been more difficult than I thought it'd be. Just one minute at a time...

I don't know what to say except that I hope that it gets better.

That says all I need. Thank you.

This is the next part of the gauntlet. Keep moving, breathe and process. You have started the process of sitting with your pain. Do this in short bursts. The guilt and doubt will ebb and flow but they do recede and they will loosen their hold over you over time. Take care.

May you find your peace sooner than later.<br />
I remember the months following my own separation, and eventual divorce. It was way back in 1997, but the pain is still fresh in my mind. The marriage needed to be over as my ex was--and still is--a cruel, vindictive, narcissistic, and arrogant control freak, but I was still utterly broken by the whole experience. The guilt and shame were heavy. I doubted if anyone would ever love me since I was now "damaged goods." Of course, my fears were unfounded, but they were heavy upon me for a long time. And even now, though I am remarried, are still in the back of my mind.<br />
You will get past this ... give yourself grace, give yourself time to process.<br />
You will be better.<br />
You are better.