As I looked in the mirror for a final assessment, the reflection staring
back at me looked quite sophisticated. I had chosen to wear my well-tailored blue suit to my afternoon meeting.... a meeting that would
most definitely open a new chapter in my life. You see, I had an appointment with an attorney to begin divorce proceedings. My fine
blue suit, with my white silk blouse, single-stranded pearls, and my
three-inch heeled pumps, gave me an air of poise and self-confidence.
Oh yes, the look was of absolute conviction, but who was I kidding?
Underneath the stylish attire, I was a quivering mess. I was sad; I was
angry; I was afraid. But most of all, I was tired.... tired of Jim telling me
I was a bad wife whenever I challenged him; tired of him lying to me;
and, more importantly, I was tired of lying to myself.
It was time to face the truth: Jim hadn’t been faithful to me since
before our marriage; he had no concern for my feelings; I was just a
convenience in his life. The one truth that wasn’t quite so clear was why
I had given him so many chances, even when I had little hope that anything would change. Was I so terribly insecure or was I simply unwilling to acknowledge the fact that my marriage was a failure?
I once read that a love affair isn’t over until there are no emotions
left. No more anger, no more sadness, no more pain.... you feel nothing.
Until then, the relationship is “unfinished”. I sometimes found a distorted sense of comfort in the fact that I could still feel the pain of
Jim’s thoughtless and hurtful actions and his callous comments.... if
he was still capable of hurting me, then I must still love him! I had told
Jim on many occasions throughout our marriage, particularly during
heated disputes, that I was afraid that one day I’d wake up and realize
that I had no feelings left for him, and that would be the moment
our marriage would be over, the point of no return. His response was
always the same: how very melodramatic of me.
I must disagree with the “no-emotions-left” theory. I think the anger
and pain linger long after the love has gone. My own belief is that
you know it’s over when you feel at peace in his absence. I was there....
at peace when Jim was away from me.
There had been a time when I was very much in love with Jim and
felt secure in his love for me. I was so naïve. It wasn’t long into our
marriage that my dreams were shattered. Jim was not the man I had
imagined him to be and not the man he promised to be. That man
didn’t exist. And yet I continued to cling to the hope that we could
make it work for the sake of our girls. I held on to that hope far too
long! But I couldn’t hold on any longer. I had to break free of him before
I lost myself completely.
My decision to tell Jim I wanted a divorce came on the heels of
a particularly bitter argument weeks earlier, an argument that summarized all my years of discontent. The lies; the verbal and emotional
abuse; the affairs; his “disappearance” for five months without a word,
leaving me to wonder if he was dead or alive, all the while trying to
keep my sanity for the sake of my unborn baby. All my hostility had
surfaced during that one colossal battle. Jim had duped me into giving
him many chances to prove to me that he was sincere in keeping
our family together. And because I was so desperate to believe him,
I allowed myself to be manipulated. But it was time for me to give
up on empty promises and shattered dreams. Where was my pride and
My earliest childhood memories involved playing house and nurturing
my dolls, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dream of having a real home and family of my own. I was destined to be a wife and mother. Never – ever - did my dreams include divorce. Yet here I was, on my way to drawing up a separation agreement, the first step towards divorce.
Jim knew me so well. In all the years we were together, I was very
transparent in my determination to keep our marriage intact; and Jim
was ever-so-confident that I would never have the backbone to take the
initiative to end our marriage. Seeking counsel today was a bold move
on my part; and it was extremely unsettling to Jim, as he now realized
that my longtime hollow threats were no longer hollow. Never before
had I felt so confident that this was the right thing to do; and never
before had Jim felt so defenseless by my courage and determination.
Jim was now threatening to show up at my appointment to make
sure that my attorney was fully aware that he was going to fight me all
the way. His parting words to me as he smugly walked out the door
that morning were, “You’re going to have to find a man quickly to support
you and the girls because I won’t! And I hope you realize that no
man is going to be interested in a middle-aged woman with two kids”.
(I was 35 at the time.)
Needless to say, I did not want Jim to disrupt my meeting; but I had no way to stop him. I prayed that God would give me the strength to stand strong and not crumble in the presence of Jim’s hostility and belligerence....