How do you know when a relationship is over?
When you know you can live, quite happily, without the other person as part of your life. It’s a simple answer but the most telling one.
How do you deal with it? That’s the bit I’ve spent the last few years trying to work out.
Even before we got married, I knew things weren’t right. I’d known for a long, long time but I thought it was normal. It was shit that everyone felt one time or another, right? No one is perfect. There is no perfect marriage or partnership. But being terminally optimistic (or fatalistic) about such things, I thought being married would bring us closer together; make us happier.
It didn’t. Nothing changed. If anything, things gradually got worse.
For me, the beginning of the end was a brief conversation about whether I was attractive. I was told I “wasn’t… unattractive”.
I kept waiting for a punchline that never, ever came.
The problem was me, right? Of course, that’s what I thought. Who makes a comment like that? Even if they didn’t “mean” it, there’s still some truth to it. I was hurt beyond speaking – fuck, beyond breathing – as I realised that there was to be no laughing “Just kidding!” to follow.
Clearly the problem was me.
It started a spiral that was both downward and upward for me.
I started to take care of myself better – thinking that the problem was me. I lost 50kg – thinking that the problem was me. I started to dress better – thinking that the problem was me.
It was never him. I wasn’t prepared to shift the blame onto him. It had to be me. I had all this rage because I was the problem and didn’t know how to properly deal with it.
When we had a massive fight, it was me who was sent to counseling – and I went, thinking that the problem was me.
The end goal was to be a better, more lovable/likeable me.
So I changed physically and emotionally. I learned to breathe and let things go. To compromise – always compromise and convince myself that whatever I had to compromise on wasn’t important, totally putting aside the fact that my thoughts and feelings were important and valid too. Did it change anything at home? Nope.
And in the three years (from 2011) all that took, I came to the realisation that IT. WASN’T. ME.
I was reacting to the problem, not creating it.
(I realise belatedly this was the stuff my therapist had alluded to. Funny how hindsight is remarkably clear.)
The confidence that came with losing weight meant that I could walk down the street and look people in the eye and know that I was worth so much more than what I was given credit for. I had a brain. I had skill. Fuck, I was even pretty. I was perfectly fine as a human being.
I suddenly got tired of watching all of our friends working as units; well-oiled marriage machines that managed to keep their shit together and even love each other at the same time, and wondering why I didn’t have that. I watched my employers scream at each other (I work for three husband/wife teams) one second but be cuddling in the next second and actually addressing what was wrong and doing something to fix it but couldn’t even convince my own husband that putting empty toilet rolls in the bin was a Good Idea.
After the disastrous Christmas of 2014 when I needed support from the one who was supposed to be closest to me – who had chosen that period of two weeks to give me the cold shoulder because of a fight the week before – I knew I had to face the reality that things weren’t working. More importantly, I had to deal with the infinitely more guilty realisation that I didn’t want them to work anymore.
I wanted out.
(And before anyone rails the benefits of couples counseling and all that stuff at me, I have to tell you now that no counseling in the world will work when both parties aren’t committed to the process. And I was not and am not committed to that process. Deal with it.)
Cue a year of depression and hiding and eating… OMG, the eating.
I rediscovered my love of cake and chocolate and my affair with apathy was back in full swing.
Hello 20kgs. Nice to see you again. At least I’ll be slightly warmer this winter.
But anyway. The year wore on and time and time again I would finally decide that it was time to say something but I would chicken out. I knew I had to say something, and soon. My heart was flying off in a totally different direction at this stage.
Going to another wedding in January this year cemented it for me. It was painful, pretending to be happy while watching two friends who had been tip-toeing around each other for ages finally get married. The absolute adoration…
I was happy for them.
Sad for me. I was tired of being sad. I was tired of all lying and pretending that everything was fine and normal.
And the following week I spoke the words out loud, finally.
“I don’t want to be married anymore.”
And a new adventure begins.
Postscript: I still don’t blame him.