I’m nobody’s bride anymore.
That’s a hard sentence to write and even harder to read.
Mike and I separated 3 months ago and have decided mutually to divorce.
Part of me wishes I could say someone had an affair. I wish I could blame one horrible thing someone said or did. To me, one indiscretion gives a couple hope for forgiveness or a second chance. This was different.
I don’t think either of us knows exactly when we began to grow apart, but it happened so slowly that we didn’t notice until it was too late. We had been living apart for years…together.
It wasn’t one thing. It wasn’t something someone said or did. It wasn’t even for a lack of love we have for one another. I keep reminding myself, these things just happen sometimes. People sometimes grow at a healthy pace, with healthy roots…but find themselves in different gardens.
Undoing years of built-up issues proved too big a mountain for us to climb. And we tried to climb it.
After making the decision for him to move out, we broke down. Not just for the loss of an 11-year marriage, but at the idea of telling the kids their worlds were about to crumble.
All I’ve ever wanted to do in this life was protect my children from pain, harm or injustice. Suddenly, I find myself subjecting them to all three. The hardest part was knowing the decision was voluntary. How could I cause my precious babies to hurt so badly because of something I didn’t HAVE to do? Couldn’t I just suck it up and wait until they moved out?
I’m convinced this is the ultimate guilt all separated parents experience. When they cry, we have to live with knowing we did this to them. This is OUR fault. And it’s true. There’s no way around it.
But thank God for therapy. Thank God for professionals who helped us navigate this process and made us both feel like we could do this in a healthy way with minimal damage. A child psychologist explained that the damage we would do by staying together is worse. The kids would learn that marriage looks like two unhappy strangers living in the same house. They would then emulate that in their own marriages. Or they could learn that when things aren’t working anymore, you can change your life and be happy again. We chose the latter.
So far, co-parenting with Mike has been incredible. We communicate so well and we always put the kids first. It’s shocking how great of friends we are, but then again, we always were. The friendship between us has never suffered. I know we both cry and hurt and are grieving our loss in our own ways, but when it comes to the kids, we keep it together. Smiling always with open arms. We never bad mouth one another. We keep our parenting rules consistent between houses and we are flexible when the other person has to deviate from the schedule because life happens.
Ultimately, I’m feeling strong, healthy and happy...most days. The process is grueling, but the kids are doing remarkably well considering the circumstances. They’re so resilient. At least that’s what I tell myself.
There are times when my heart aches and feels like it might explode. There are times when I can’t figure out the remote control settings or I'm not tall enough to reach something in the cabinet. There are times when I miss the trash take out day or a toy breaks and I can't say 'Daddy will fix it'. That’s when I have to remind myself it's all on me now.
I’m nobody’s bride anymore.
Photo Credit: Mary Bel Photography