I am writing this post from Gate A 32 of the Denver International Airport. The flight boards in 35 minutes and I find these pockets of idle time to be perfectly conducive to writing. When faced with a full day of openness, I can hardly squeeze out a coherent sentence. These tiny writing blitzes are the only way I can really say something. I like to race against the clock.
Exactly 17 days ago, I told my husband that I wanted a divorce.
This would all be so much easier to explain if there had been some concrete reason for my leaving. Some sort of abuse or neglect or betrayal. Not that I would ever wish for any of those things… they would just make for a cleaner break.
No, I left my husband because I came to the scary and persistent realization that I was not living the life I wanted to live. And that by staying with him, I would never live for myself.
My husband is a wonderful, kind, funny, and incredibly intelligent man. I loved and still love him with so much of my heart. There are many reasons that I have made this decision, but it all really boils down to one: I love my husband, but I love me more.
I’m 31 years old and in all these years on earth I never would have thought myself capable of the complete and utter upheaval that I have created in my life and his. I spent the last ten years working to build us a life together, working to make sure that he was happy and taken care of. Navigating the endless terrain of partnership and family and co-existence. Hurting him in any way felt impossible to me, and I would often hurt myself or try to absorb pain so he wouldn’t have to experience it. I wanted to be so perfect. I thought that if I made one person on this earth blissfully happy, my life might mean something. **Spoiler Alert: This is not the recipe for a happy life.**
One year ago, a subtle inner voice told me, in plain and uncomplicated English: I don’t want to live this life anymore.
I spent the next 5 months trying to prove this voice wrong. I was happy god-dammit! The only problem is that once you hear something like that, it makes it very very hard to un-hear it. It begins to permeate everything you do. From the way you talk to each other (I don’t want to have these conversations anymore). To the way you interact with your home (I don’t want to live in this space anymore). To the way that you make love (I don’t want to have sex with this person anymore). To the way that you wake up in the morning (I don’t want to see him laying on the couch again). To the way you plan your life (I don’t want to travel with this person again).
Seven months in, in an effort to change things from the inside, I told my husband that I didn’t think I wanted to be married anymore and why. He listened and cried. He promised that he wanted the same things I wanted, and that he would change and stop spending every non-work minute stoned on the couch. One week later, he was back there. And I was alone with a new emptiness and fury. Didn’t he hear me??? Doesn’t he understand how serious this is???
What became crystal clear to me then was that he really didn’t want the things I wanted. He thought he did, because he wanted me. But he didn’t really want me. He wanted the me that didn’t want those things. The me that made things easy and effortless for him. He wanted the me that didn’t make him fight for anything. He wanted the me that didn’t make him try. He tried hard at work, that was enough. He wanted the ‘yes’ me.
And then, one cold day, I looked him straight in the eye and said ‘No’.
That was the first day I ever said ‘Yes’ to myself.