For better or worse: when forever ends
I promised you forever. Until death do us part. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. Now as I begin the journey of walking away, I have an array of emotions. My head has been spinning with questions, I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answers to.
I feel like a hypocrite. I said the words with the belief, that things worked in such a way. A happy, loving family had always been my main goal. I had no care for money, I’d have lived with him in a box. In sickness, I loved him more and in health, I enjoyed him more. It’s perhaps, in the better or worse, where I fell short.
What’s in the fine print?
For better or worse. The words them-self present some interesting questions:
is there a clause that considers the limitation of bullshit, which one
How many fights should a person withstand, before they’re to broken to
How many times can sorry fix the problem, if the problem keeps repeating?
What’s the number of chances one should give before they begin to feel
like a fool?
Does it matter if the worse grows to outweigh the better?
Is there a level of drained one should become, before enough is enough?
Twelves years ago, I’d have answered each one the same. Marriage is unending, it’s the good times and the bad. I believed anything could be worked through if two people were willing. I admit, now looking back, I walked in with rose colored glasses and idealistic views of how I envisioned marriage.
The seemingly, never-ending cycle
For better or worse can become a hellish cycle. One that has always left me questioning if this was simply how marriage went? I lived years believing it was all the normal course of marriage. You butt heads, you pull through. Life throws you curb balls, you face it together and come out better, stronger. More idealistic views. It was a nice thought but this wasn’t the usual bickering of trivial offenses. It wasn’t the simple disagreements of how the toilet paper roll should go or whether you should squeeze the toothpaste from the
bottom or the middle.
When two people live together and spend most of their time together, there’s going to be annoyances. I completely understood this going in,
but these aggravations became irrational. I found myself feeling as if
I were walking on egg shells; a bridge made of generic glue and tiny shell bits. It’s cracks leaving the darkness of the depths below, to show through. An abyss I found myself falling into, deeper and faster with each failed pass.
It wasn’t my first rodeo, it’s not like there hadn’t been other fights. I’d left on more than one occasion over the years; not a
statement I take much pride in. I wish I could say I hadn’t but I learned there is a point when you have to walk away and give it time. Hope and pray cooler heads would prevail. I didn’t leave with an
intention to break us up. I never wanted to produce another broken family in the world. I wanted us to work. I came back, time and time again. Never staying away for more than a few hours.
Each time I left, I gave him enough time to let him cool down. He loved me most when he thought of losing me and true to the cycle, he’d shortly begin the apologies and promises. Dragging me back. Reminding me how much I loved him and our family as if I had forgotten. I hadn’t. Everything I did was with the intention to help us last. To minimize the damages. Leaving wasn’t a regular occurrence, I reserved those moments for last resorts. When all else fails, right?
When I came back, it was with hope for better. Maybe this time he’d find more understanding. Maybe he’d not only hear my words but he’d listen and be more considerate. Maybe we could tame the anger together. I was more than willing to bend over backwards to help ease the burden he carried. At some point in the cycle, I couldn’t help but
feel like we were in fact, his burden. I don’t know that I’ll ever know the answer to that either.
I often think, perhaps I should have done more. Maybe on more occasions I should have stood for myself and demanded an equal respect. Then I remember all the failed attempts to stand on my own. It didn’t make a difference if I tried, not for long anyhow and in the end, the results were the same, if not worse. I learned, its best to
pick your battles.
Fighting became the rule and love became the exception. When you think
about it, not too many cycles end well. Life and death, though cliche, is about the best example anyone could give. More often than not, it begins joyous but the process has a way of wearing you down over time and in the end..well, you die. Pretty sad shit if you ask me.
Though my heart didn’t stop beating and I never stopped breathing. Little pieces of me died inside as I watched the phases play out on repeat. All growing more than predictable with no resolutions in site. In a relationship, it takes two. You’re either two in unity or two in war. There are truces and middle ground but if those pacts aren’t
kept, war rages on.
It was a metaphorical gut punch
For better or worse. I never thought I’d be getting a divorce. Through all the ups and downs. Through every packed bag and attempt to walk away. I never honestly thought it’d be over. I never imagined there’d come a point of no return. I thought I’d try to my dying day to fix the broken pieces in him, to heal whatever made him so angry. Sure, I
had threatened divorce when I had nothing else left. Hoping his fear of losing me was greater than the invisible fire that was burning him
up inside. Heating him to the point of explosion, so often it had begun to feel normal, but I never thought it’d be over.
The moments added up; those last straw çalls to my mother. The times I cried to my cousin. The hours spent ranting in rage with my best-friend. They all came down to the same questions. How do I know when to be done? How do I know when I’ve had more than I can take? No
matter the advice they gave, my mind stayed the same. Love was forever and there couldn’t possibly be a limit on what one could take. Or so I thought.
It knocked me off my feet that day. The world went black but my thoughts raged in a vivid explosion of color. My stomach sat in my feet, aching with a strange combination of anger and numbness or
perhaps it was my heart. My guts were splattered on the wall as sometimes I wasn’t sure if they were there at all. My heart pounded in my ears, from the depth of my shoes. My breath caught in my throat, which ached as I swallowed down the tears.
I could only drive a couple miles. Pulling into an area I knew would be empty. A parking lot that more often than not, sat abandoned. The kids screamed and cried the whole way. I wanted to collapse the entire drive. I threw on the reassuring mom voice, fighting past the tears
and anger. Trying to contain it all, the best I could as I broke for what would ultimately, be the last time. I’m not sure what I said, those words of reassurance don’t stick with me. Unlike the racing
thoughts which stick like bold print on the forefront of my mind.
I stepped out of the car, hoping to keep the kids in but they didn’t have it in them to listen and I didn’t have it in me to mom. I did the only thing I’ve ever known to do in this situation and called my mother. She answers to panicked breathing and me rambling some
variation of “oh god mom, I don’t know what to do”. The words repeating, as I no longer knew what to say and i had yet to grasp the events, though still fresh in my mind.
It was these moments, I hated the most. No longer able to carry the load alone. I didn’t want people to know what went on behind the scenes. I painted a pretty picture because that’s what I wanted it to be. But in those moments, I broke down in tears, replaying the events
in a shaky, raggedy manner. The words crashed into one another, crumpling up together as my tongue felt swollen and my throat threatened closure.
Hearing the whine of my voice, in strangled cries as I fought through,
only weakened me more. I did my best to speed through every word, hoping the quicker it came out the sooner the gut wrenching feelings would pass. Fighting a panic attack, swallowing down the urge to paint the parking lot in whatever I last ate.
Once the words were out, I asked the only question I knew to ask but this time, I asked from a different point of view. “Mama, how did you know, you were done?” And she paused, then replied as only an experienced women could. “You feel it in your gut.”
The words were simple enough but standing there, in an empty parking
lot. kids screaming in tears for there father, because he’d proclaimed, they’d never see him again as I loaded them in the car. Standing there, with my life beyond falling apart, came clarity. My
mothers voice faded, the kids were still screaming but there was no noise. Only the racing of the blood in my veins could be heard and for a second, my gut returned to its proper place. An air of relief passed over me in a rush but it was a fleeting relief as I realized the
reality of it all.
It was then I knew, the gut punch I had just taken. Was in fact, the end of my marriage. It was the end of my patience and the last few drops of love I had left. I was officially on empty and I didn’t know if I’d ever get back up but I knew I couldn’t keep putting us through
this. He had said it so many times but the words caught in my throat, “sometimes, love isn’t enough” and it only took one gut punch to know its truth.