“I want a divorce.”
The words feel like a punch to my solar plexus, knocking the wind and life force out of me. I can’t feel myself breathe, and the pain in my jaw is visceral. Fear grips every inch of my body, like a vise holding my guts. As soon as I can feel my breath again, I realize everything in my life is slipping away; I’m slipping away.
I can taste the saltiness of tears trickling down my cheeks as the silence is deafening. When I ask my husband, “What did I do?‘ repeatedly, I hear the echo of my pleas. Life as I knew it is ending, and the agony of rejection and abandonment rips through my heart; as each second passes, I feel it being torn apart, bit by bit, into tiny little pieces.
Though the energy in the air is acute and his decision firm, I don’t want to believe my husband is filing for divorce, and I’ll do anything to stop him. As he stood to leave the room, I fell to my knees in a last act of desperation and grabbed his pant leg, sobbing, “You promised you’d never leave me!”
He continues to walk away devoid of any emotion, dragging me until I let go and collapse into a heap of nothingness and humiliation on the floor. I’m an empty shell, physically present but barren of any inner essence.
My marriage is ending; it’s over, finished, done. And I’m ending, too. There’s no way out for me; there’s nowhere to go, there’s nowhere to turn.
“What do I do now?”
I returned to a familiar behavior pattern—forcing the paralyzing feelings of abandonment and rejection down, bottling them up, and returning to the “look good” little girl I know so well. I shut down emotionally. If I don’t feel, I can’t be hurt anymore. Shutting down also protected me from feeling bad about myself—that I’m a failure.
I go on dates, drink wine, and maybe even do a little cocaine. It numbs my pain and the shame I had about my divorce and self-loathing. I isolated myself from family and friends because of my increased drinking and because I was humiliated and ashamed and didn’t want them to know my torment or the lonely world I lived in.
My life continued to spiral downward for the next nine months, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I received the divorce decree. I fell into deep despair and had no memory for the following two weeks. It wasn’t until I visited a friend after having my locks changed and passed out that I knew I had hit rock bottom. I woke up the next day and realized I had left my two dogs all day and night without any food, water, or way to relieve themselves. I was a monster!
I hit rock bottom and despised who I had become. In less than nine months, the person I thought died when I heard those four knife-life words was literally at death’s doorstep.
Stay tuned for Part 2.