What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

All of us, at some point in our lives, have been asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in X years?”  When I was in third grade it was ten years, and I said I would be in college.  When I was in college it was ten years, and I said I would be married with children, a nice house, and a good job.  When I was a divorced single mother at a job interview it was five years, and I had absolutely no idea.  Essentially they wanted to know if I intended to keep the job long-term, and whatever bumbling answer I gave must have revealed my heart’s fervent reply of, “HELL NO.”

As I sit here now, it has been four years since my last blog.  What an ugly word – BLOOOOGG.  Post doesn’t do it justice either.  A post is something quick you throw onto Facebook.  How about letter?  These feel more like letters.  Letters to myself, perhaps.  Anyway, I digress.  Four years ago I went on a series of dates and settled on a handsome man who felt comfortable and easy.  Everything about our relationship was easy.  Easy to talk to, easy to like, easy to enjoy time with…

He certainly wasn’t the kind of man I thought I would end up with.  For one, he’s a very picky eater.  I LOVE food.  If I could spend my days traveling the world just to sample exotic cuisine, I would.  He’s a massive Star Wars nerd (a fact I adore), he’s not a comedian, and he doesn’t particularly like children.  This is a real problem since I just so happen to have one.  He led me to believe he liked kids initially, but it turned out that the only children he actually liked were his nieces and nephew.  Regardless, this man grew to be my best friend.  Four years later, we are married, living in a two story fixer-upper (which I have spent the last two years diligently fixing), and we have a new baby girl.

We are also on the verge of divorce.  nick-fewings-532590-unsplash

A big part of me wishes I had cataloged our entire relationship online just so I could go back and remember how in love we used to be.  The closest thing I have is a blurb from our wedding.  In summary, when we first met, he looked ten years younger than his actual age and I was concerned that I had forgotten which guy I was going out with that night.  We talked for hours, and he revealed that he wants to cage dive with sharks and climb Everest, but he’s afraid of spiders.  He realized he was in love with me at a Train concert, as I danced and sang like a crazy woman.  We both love books, hiking, and comic conventions.  After a year of dating we took a trip to Universal Studios, where he proposed in front of the Leaky Cauldron with a ring on a wand.

Just a couple of awesome nerds in love.  Once.

Here’s the thing – I was never swooning, gaga, falling all over myself about him.  It was a different kind of love.  I didn’t feel urgent dependence or infatuation, but I did feel like he was one of My People.  My best friend.  The one I always wanted to be around and do everything with.  He may be a gun-toting conservative in contrast to my bleeding liberal heart, but we enjoyed every moment together.  We were busy ALL the time.  Concerts, museums, festivals, movies, board games, Legos… it was marvelous!  We are a couple of grown up kids who still like to play.  The problem is, he never learned how to share.

The story of how we ended up with our house is long, so I’ll truncate it.  We were house hunting for months.  He only liked houses we couldn’t afford.  He basically gave up and said I should do all the looking and tell him if I found anything good.  I found one.  A hundred year old three bed two bath with a giant attic and a full basement for only $20,000.  It needed work, but for that price?!  No problem!  A “we buy cheap houses” truck drove by as I was touring it.  I began to panic.  Couldn’t get him on the phone.  My parents were with me (to help assess structural costs) and they said they’d make an offer to secure the house.  If we wanted it, great.  If not, they’d flip it.  When I finally did get ahold of my then-fiance, he was NOT happy.  I explained that he didn’t have to go with it.  He could keep looking instead.  But I was on a tight deadline since I had no choice but to move SOMEWHERE in the next four months, so he couldn’t drag his feet.  Ultimately he decided not to buy the house, but to live there for free with me and my daughter, with the stipulation that we would fix it up in lieu of rent and move to a new place once we had saved enough money.

Remember how I said I spent two years diligently fixing up the house?  That’s “I” for a reason.  Not “we”.  He has helped with many things, but ultimately if it wasn’t something that could be done quickly or by myself, my parents had to hire somebody else to do it.  After a year of free living he was supposed to start paying a nominal rent, but he refused.  He said it’s not his house and he never wanted to live here, so he shouldn’t have to pay rent.  I don’t know if he ever saved any money.  He refuses to discuss finances with me.  All my savings went to pay for our DIY wedding.  I could have had more savings by now, but I ended up finding out I was pregnant right after our second honeymoon.  Our first honeymoon was a family event to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where we took my little girl to Dollywood.  The second honeymoon was a cruise to the Bahamas just for us.  We had been married three months.

He didn’t take news of the pregnancy so well.  When we were dating he said he wanted a child of his own.  He changed his mind.  I was horribly ill for many months, which meant I missed a lot of work.  I ended up with a lung infection, sinus infection, skin infection, the flu, extreme nausea night and day… it was a JOY.  The baby was born last July, and I haven’t gone back to work full-time since then.  (I briefly held a night job flipping burgers, but he asked me to quit because he didn’t like staying up late with the baby.)  I wanted to be home with her for at least a year before I went back, and it didn’t make any financial sense to work since daycare for two kids cost nearly my entire paycheck.  Why work full time and miss her infancy for a measly $50 a week?  Why would anyone want to net ten bucks a day after working eight hours?!  Nope.

My husband didn’t see it that way.  He said I was just lazy.  ME!!!  I busted my butt getting the nursery and everything ready while I was pregnant, to the point that the doctor told me to STOP because I already had a hernia and I was going to make things worse.  Every time I asked him to help he would go reorganize his stuff in the attic.

The first week of her life, it seemed like everything was going to be okay.  Despite what he said for nine months, he loved that baby.  That cold, unfeeling man who spent all his days locked away in his room without any thought to the wife and daughter downstairs suddenly reemerged and seemed happy again.  Then at one week of age, he said he didn’t feel like he had a place in our home, and he thought we would be divorced within six months.

I fell apart.  Considering the fact that my last marriage self-destructed while I was pregnant (that’s a whole other Lifetime movie event!), I was in shock.  Why would this happen again?  Was it me?  Am I so difficult to live with?  Everything inside this house belongs to my husband.  Aside from the bed, the couch, the TV, and some pictures on the wall, it’s all his.  If he left, the house would be empty.  Even the couch and TV aren’t really mine.  They were donations from my parents after they bought themselves new furniture.

We tried counseling.  The first guy was the world’s worst counselor.  He just smiled and nodded, and occasionally told us to remember we were on the same team.  We got a new one.  She was great, but nothing changed.  If it did change, it lasted maybe a week and then he was right back to hating our guts again.  Eventually it got to the point where she asked if we felt we had accomplished anything at all, and if we thought it would do any good to continue on the path we are on.  She suggested my husband attend individual counseling instead.  He refused.

I thought long and hard about it.  I hemmed and hawed.  I listed pros and cons.  And then, finally, on Easter Sunday I had to tell him.  He was talking about plans for the future, years from now, and it felt as though I was keeping a secret.  So on the day of rebirth and forgiveness, I told him I wanted a divorce.

There was no fight.  No shouting.  No argument.  Just two sad people reaching an inevitable conclusion.  After four years he still hadn’t bonded with my daughter.  After two years of marriage, he still kept secrets from me.  After nine months, he still only spent an hour each day with the baby.  I was not in love with him anymore.  I AM not in love with him anymore.  It was over.

At first he accepted it.  We told my oldest daughter and she cried, but agreed that we would be happier living apart.  Daddy doesn’t really like to live here anyway.  Things were better back when he lived in his own apartment.  I gave him a couple months to find a new place to live.  I was taking the girls on a long vacation in June, so he needed to be out before we left.

Then, things changed.  HE changed.  Suddenly he was downstairs interacting with the rest of us instead of hiding away all evening long.  He was taking time to play with the kids.  He joked around and acted silly with us.  He used kind words and was helpful when I needed him to be.  It was a week of miracles!  It gave me hope that we could conduct business civilly and work in the best interest of the kids.

Then he asked to speak to me privately.  He found an intensive counseling program recommended to him by a pastor.  It is supposed to save marriages.  With either group or individual counseling, over the course of three or four days, your marriage woes should be solved.  It’s a solid 20-34 hours of counseling crammed into less than a week.  I am skeptical, but I agreed.  It’s worth a shot.  I don’t know if anything can make me fall in love again, but no one can say I didn’t try.

It has now been two weeks since I asked for a divorce.  It seems like a lifetime.  Things have been better, but I keep asking myself if it’s enough.  If it can ever BE enough.  I love him, but I am not in love, and it hurts to think that I could be.  Once upon a time my playlist held love songs that made me feel whole.  Cared for.  Understood.  Now they make me feel like the butt of a joke or the world’s biggest lie.  When I am with him I think of someone else.  I may be holding a Picky Eater in my arms, but Superman is in my head, and the songs belong to him.  Not all of them.  So many of them belong to no one, and I wonder if I have ever been loved.  I can’t remember what it’s like to be in love anymore.  As a person who lives in the moment, years past seem like millennia.

What becomes of the brokenhearted?  I found peace of mind before.  Time to find it again.

Until then,

Just a Silly Girl

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash