Not that I think my life will be smooth sailing from now on, with nary another problem from now until I’m dead. There may be other significant challenges in my future. But that particular, and particularly devastating, crucible is behind me.
Except that it’s not, really.
I know I vowed not to discuss what happened back then on this blog and I intend to keep faith with that promise. But I will admit that, among my family and very close friends, I talk about it a lot, actually. And that bothers me.
In a way, it’s good that I talk about it. My daughters need to be talking about it and the one of them who lives with me probably wouldn’t be talking about it at all if she weren’t talking about it to me. In fact, I kind of wish the other one had somebody she trusted enough to talk to about it.
To tell you the truth, it’s kind of cathartic for most (dare I say all?) of my children to talk about those times. There’s a lot of hurt and a lot of anger that needs to be talked through and dissipated. If my kids are finding it helpful to talk to me about this stuff, then of course I want to help them heal.
Even without that, though, I still talk about it a lot. Too much, I tell myself.
I was married for almost 27 years. I have heard from psychologist and counselor types that getting a divorce is a lot like having a spouse die, and it needs to be grieved the same way. In justice to myself, I have to acknowledge that it would take more than a minute to grieve the loss of a spouse of 27 years, so I do try to cut myself some slack.
But there’s a lot more to it than that.
The way my marriage ended and the reason why my former spouse is now incarcerated in a state correctional facility turned out to be a traumatic series of events for me. But that somehow feels wrong to me. I keep telling myself that the real victims of the trauma were my children: I was not the victim here. I keep telling myself that I need to stop taking that stuff away from them in my head. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t need anybody’s sympathy for what happened back then; it didn’t happen to me.
But there’s a lot about the crucible that I still don’t understand. From a rational point of view, I suppose there’s not a lot of point in trying to comprehend the mind of a sociopath and I do get that. But I also don’t understand what happened to me during the years leading me into that crucible. I don’t understand how I could have let those things happen to me without noticing?
I don’t understand why I still don’t feel okay, fully three years beyond the crucible.
So I talk. I’m still trying to figure out how much of that failed relationship was me and how much of it was him, how much of my current opinion of myself is my normal insecurities and how much of it is the toxic thinking that somehow snuck into my brain before I was freed from him.
There was a time in my life when I thought I knew myself well. I wasn’t perfect – far from it – but I was fine with the me I had discovered inside my own skin. I was content with everything I knew about myself: the good, the bad and the ugly.
I don’t feel like that anymore. I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore. What’s good about me? What sucks about me? What do I like and dislike? Do I like who I am? I don’t know anymore.
That is what I lost: me. That is why I am still not okay.
And sometimes, when I consider the prospect of trying to figure out who I am all over again this late in the game, I feel despairing and exhausted.
But it’s not a task I can walk away from. I promised myself a long, long time ago that I was going to do whatever was necessary in my life to make myself happy.
But right this minute, I’m not sure anymore how to make myself happy. I think I have forgotten what that looks like.