The light bulb has gone off in my head that the past couple years of self-flogging, berating, beating up on and blaming myself for the divorce are pointless and futile. I have certainly suffered, well beyond the realm of what could be considered normal or appropriate. Enough is enough! All I am really guilty of is wanting to be in another relationship that made me whole again after my husband's death. I had the courage to take a chance at love again. It sadly didn't last. I am not the first woman, nor the last who will become widowed or divorced and then get back out there on the horse only to be thrown off it.
All this wasted energy of taking the sole blame for the divorce. Believing it was all my fault. Even when as a counselor I know that it is never because of one person - it is always a mix of how a couple interacted. One partner may want to believe it was all because of the other but their behavior, values and shortcomings had a role in the story too.
So much of all of this internalized anger against myself is coming to the surface. I am sure it would not have simmered and brewed so long if Husband #2 and I had had more opportunities to talk. But his cutting me off from doing so was a way to insulate himself from accepting any responsibility for what happened. It allowed him to make a clean break and go back to his neat and tidy life without any regard for what happened to the little family he threw away.
As we continued to plunge to the ground financially and in having to sell the house, my beliefs that I was a terrible person seemed justified. This has been a damaging and awful mindset to have. It has been there underneath the surface invisible to others but always at work tearing me down and making me miserable despite the outer image I present to the world.
As do many people who have been abandoned/dumped, I put Husband #2 on some sort of pedestal. Believing to some extent that if I didn't rock the boat and reveal my true feelings that he would come back to me. I also struggle with issues of childhood neglect and so a part of all of this has included internalized fantasies of having the one most closest to me who wounded me, recognize the error of his ways, do a complete about face and return to my life to rescue, save and protect me. How can that ever materialize when the guy is unable to have a healthy emotional connection with his partner in the first place, much less be able to communicate on an intimate and honest level?
I would like to relate to Husband #2 that what hurt me most was that his refusal to speak with me, offer explanations of why he divorced me and even say goodbye to me or the boys made me feel like I was inhuman. That has cut me to the core and damaged me beyond measure. People who are kind and nice do not disrespect those they married (or anyone for that matter). My divorce attorney and the mediator did not justify his behavior but they explained it by saying a lot of people become very mean-spirited and ugly during divorce proceedings. I don't find that an acceptable excuse. As someone who stood loyally by her husband's side until he took his last breath after three long years of fighting a horrendous illness, this behavior will never make sense. All of us deserve compassion and dignity. He knew what I had gone through before he married me. No one put a gun to his head at the alter. If you want a divorce in this country you can get one. He was going to get that - there was no reason to rub salt into wounds already raw, ragged and bleeding.
I'd like to hope that people undergoing life transitions learn, grow and develop into better people than they were before the trials met them. But that isn't accomplished by closing the door to self-reflection and communication. It is very difficult to look at a situation and accept your responsibility within it. God knows, I am not lily white. But I do know that I did not intentionally try to cause harm and pain to others. Most of my errors were those of omission. I didn't realize some of the problems because I was too busy beating down the flames of the fires that had to be put out. Nor did Husband #2 ever really communicate to me the deep level of his discontented feelings.
It wasn't all my fault. I am not a terrible, undeserving person because this marriage failed. I wanted to work at it and wasn't given a chance. I hadn't given up on the love I felt. To be sure, this marriage set me back emotionally. In the end, it brought me all the way back to my childhood 45 years earlier. Who would ever have thought that on that gorgeous evening Husband #2 and I took our vows? Both of our childhood baggage has been at play within our relationship. I deeply regret that it wasn't possible for both of us to cling to one another throughout the storm and make it to the other side. That is what a marriage is all about. It would have been a glorious moment when both of us had stepped out from storm into the sunshine hand and hand together, instead of me doing so on my own.