Forgiveness is the economy of the heart…forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred,

The waste of spirits.

–          Hannah Moore

 banksy-heart-balloon-mural-design

Art: Banksy – Girl with Balloon

Okay so anyone following my blog will know that I lived in a happily-not-so ever-after marriage bubble for quite some time. We were together for almost 18 years and married for 14 of those. It was a good run really in the big sea of tragic statistics about marriage and divorce. I’ve never regretted the marriage and in actual fact, I do realise how lucky I’ve been in my life to have shared such longevity and happiness with another human being for as long as we did.

Now that I am, for the first time in over 3 years ago, stepping into a new relationship, I’ve had introspective moments about the journey I’ve been on since the breakdown of my marriage and I’ve looked at my part in its demise. I think that’s normal. I’ve thought about it a lot in the last few years of course but it’s interesting that I’ve evolved so much. I’m not the same person that I was back then. So of course my perspective has changed a lot about what went on. Perhaps my vision is clearer (and not just because I am now wearing reading glasses!).

It wasn’t all happy-happy-joy-joy, I realise now. The last five years together we felt like we were really up against it – we had sick parents, a very sick child and we juggled the intensive career of the Taurus, with the stress of running a business. A marriage counsellor we saw explained that the greatest stress to relationships is caused by the following: Trauma (physical or emotional); Money; one partner not being happy with their life; lack of communication; sex; and differences in parenting beliefs.

Well good then!

I can say that sex was never a factor. We were always physically connected, even during the darkest of times, though it’s fair to say that I was always by nature more energetic than the Taurus.  When it came to parenting our children, we were always on the same page, though the Taurus was far more protective of the kids due mostly to his own European upbringing.  We balanced each other out.

Sadly, the rest of the counsellor’s list was spot on.

Trauma was a huge catalyst for sure.  In the space of only a few years, we had a child who had been diagnosed with a potentially threatening blood disorder, which turns your life upside down. Driving in to the children’s hospital and sitting in the oncology ward three times a week, every week for endless months was no joy, though the courage of the kids we met there was nothing short of inspirational. Watching your kid go through endless tests was hard, but clown doctors are awesome I have to say! Dealing with the not knowing was really hard.

We juggled two other children at the same time, one older and deeply stressed about his sister, and a toddler who couldn’t understand and was vying for our attention.

Then we each lost our fathers to death. It was rough. The Taurus carried enormous guilt as was his Catholic way. He needn’t have. He’d done nothing wrong – but he left the hospital shortly before his father passed away, and he struggled to reconcile that fact. When my dad passed away, I was with him, as was my mother, my estranged sister…and the Taurus.

He was a pillar of strength for me on that day. I was grateful to be holding my dad’s hand when he left us. I was in denial that it would happen, so to see him take his last shaking breathes made it real for me and in death he looked at peace. I supported my devastated mum and my sister. In turn, the Taurus supported me. Watching my father die possibly opened the flood gates of grief for the Taurus. He hadn’t really grieved for his own dad.

I’m not afraid to admit that I had a bit of a breakdown when my dad passed away. You never know that when you’re in it, but I was definitely heavily in the state of grief, and the Taurus started to move away when I needed him more than ever. It was a horrible treadmill to be on – the more I reached out, the more he pulled away. The more I needed him, the more he resented me.

The Taurus, looking back without the rose-coloured glasses and the clearer vision that time affords us, wasn’t a happy camper for some time. He grew more withdrawn and secretive and when I pushed him for answers about his behaviour, I was met with uncommon hostility, and often brooding silence. As a communicator, I can tell you that for me, the cruellest thing to endure is the passive aggressive silence of a partner. The silence was deafening and it erodes away at your self-esteem, in much the same way that yelling at an introvert erodes away at them…and eventually I am ashamed to say, I started yelling to break the silence.

I was growing more and more desperate for answers, about a lot of things. I had tried talking with him calmly about how I felt and my growing concerns about his unusual behaviour. In a nut shell, I felt abandoned by the person I believed would always support me. I was falling apart and he was growing colder and more distant. I think the Taurus felt weighed down by the burden of family life. He felt he carried too much responsibility in his life – a wife, kids, a business and a career. In my grief I just couldn’t see his. He no doubt resented that.

I have always been nurturing. It’s in my DNA. So whenever the Taurus was falling, I was always there to catch him before he actually hit the ground. He had some down times in his days with me and he trusted, and rightly so, that I would always support him through. In marriage, I think we unconsciously each play a role. Mine was of the nurturer, social director and mum. I was always the champion of the Taurus. I simply loved him.

In turn, he was loyal, a great dad and he provided me with a sense of safety and security that I previously never thought existed. He was my family. He was protective without being possessive. He told me every day that he loved me, sometimes several times a day…and then one day he didn’t. I spent a lot of time trying to “fix” things for him. I wanted him to feel better. I was always honest so I couldn’t comprehend that my partner was hiding anything from me, on any level. I involved him in every aspect of my life whilst he compartmentalised aspects of his world.

It erodes trust and in turn doubt creeps in. Trust for me is more about the hundreds of little things you share in your life, not just the major cross-road decisions. My partner in all things suddenly became unreliable – he didn’t do things he said he would, nor did he offer up explanations. Just excuses. He didn’t follow through.  He didn’t talk about his day let alone his feelings. He became increasingly evasive and aggressive and I responded quite negatively in return. A million things go through your mind when a partner withdraws emotionally and starts hiding things over a long period of time. Was he having an affair? Was he gambling? Was he falling out of love with me?

One thing was certain from my end – I really loved him. I wanted to hold my marriage together. We started arguing all the time. He would leave the house and drive away. He was clearly depressed. I was clearly going crazy.

So, I ask myself the big question.  Could I have done anything different to change the course of events? Is there anything I could have done that would have saved my marriage?

I’m thinking I could have done a lot of things better – but I couldn’t have saved my marriage on my own. It takes two people to do so and it requires dedication to work through things and walk into the light on the other side. He wanted things in his life to just be easier. He was tired. He was weary. He just felt he couldn’t make the distance and looking back, I should have seen that. He didn’t think it was worth the massive effort it would have taken to piece things back together. He would have had to face me…but more importantly, he would have had to deal with his own demons. That’s not always easy for most people.

It’s a great shame that we both felt so broken. That we both felt resentment. We had loved each other – but love alone is not enough. Betrayal of feelings and emotions is a massive blow to trust built up over so many years. Not communicating effectively was the nail in the proverbial coffin.

I’ve long since taken him off the pedestal….I probably had him up there for way too long. He most definitely had feet of clay! He was at times a selfish arse. The way he dealt with the separation was at times cruel. He displayed moments of darkness I think that even shocked him. Just as I did.

Looking back – if I had known then what I do now (oh, sweet hindsight) and if I’d had my faculties about me (and in times of grief we usually don’t), I would have stayed calmer. I wouldn’t have lived in a cat-like state of panic and fear. I would have tried to not be a bitch when I felt threatened. I would have given myself permission to grieve for my dad (and ask him for that time) and then get my act together. I would have tried to keep the faith for a bit longer before reacting and responding. I might have recognised that he also felt abandoned – that he needed me and my support. He had always had it, and he felt lost without it.

I wouldn’t have put up with poor behaviour after he left. I had earned his respect over many years and deserved that as the mother of his children.

I would have let him go sooner knowing that if it was ever meant to be, it simply would have been.

My life has been forever impacted by the Taurus in both good and not so good ways. Did I love him too much and trust too much? Sure. But I don’t know any other way to love someone if it’s not with everything I have. To love less than that seems a little futile. We were so young when we met (in our very early 20’s) and we were still filled with the innocence of youth. He was my first great love – we all have one of those.

Through my marriage, I learnt what love is. I’m grateful for that. I never thought my heart was going to stop hurting but in time it did. I still don’t have all the answers to why we dramatically unravelled but I’m guessing when two people share a love story, an ending is bound to be dramatic. It will not just limp off quietly into the night. Nor should it. The hurting means it meant something. It mattered.

I know this though. I felt hugely betrayed and that it’s okay to feel that way. It’s justified.  I’ve gotten mad at him, and I’ve healed. I’ve let go of the last of that negativity holding on to me. What happened doesn’t feel fair or just, and it could have been handled so much better than it was, but it’s done and dusted.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

I’m finally forgiving myself for my part in it the ending. My wise friend, the Pocket Rocket, once told me that you have to open to the closing, before you can truly be open to a new beginning. I just don’t want to carry any of the animosity with me – there have been many positives about the breakup too. Finding myself for one! I like this braver and more grown up version of myself more than I did the more sanitised version of myself that lived in the safe little bubble behind the picket fence. The girl who tried to be all things to all people while maintaining the façade of the perfect wife, mother and friend. I’m okay with my imperfect self. I’m a little more worldly and a lot more realistic. I haven’t lost my sense of wonderment at the world, nor my insanely optimistic hope for the future.

My friend, The Grecian recently posed a question to me. If the Taurus hypothetically came back on his hands and knees, begging for forgiveness and saying he’s made a huge mistake, could I take him back?

Hell, no!

I’ve learnt something valuable. The woman I am now couldn’t be with the Taurus today, or someone like him. Nor would I think he could be with someone like me. My positivity grates on him. He is still looking of my faults possibly to justify his actions. Ours was a story – a moment in time (a long moment, sure). It was perfect timing for two kids in their 20’s. Too much has changed. Too many truths have now been told, or discovered. Too much water has gone under the bridge. The feelings we once shared have gone.

I had coffee with the Taurus a few weeks ago and we actually had a laugh. It was brief and I’m thinking it would be impossible for us to be let’s-hang-out-friends. There is however respect there and yes, I believe we will always care for one another. I look at the Taurus and I choose to remember the better times we shared, and there are many happy memories. I think the Taurus looks at me and is reminded of all the failings. Perhaps one day he’ll get passed that. Perhaps I choose to romanticized the past a little, but that’s okay.

I’m in my 40’s now. Through meeting the Producer I’ve learnt something. I can actually love again. It’s possible. I honestly wasn’t sure that I could for a long time.  I’m open to new beginnings. Hell I’m finally ready for it. I deserve love and honesty and commitment in my life. I value honesty as well as reliability. I also know just how strong I can be, but that it’s all right to be a little vulnerable at times, without judging myself too harshly. I never considered myself to be a patient person, but I’ve become so. I’m independent and I’ve learnt that losing money didn’t define who I am.

I’m grateful for the last three years of singledom! Really. I’m grateful that I was reawakened on many levels – that I rediscovered my inner sexual goddess! Oh yay!  I’m grateful for finding out where my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m grateful for the dating, and the really cool people I have met. I’ve figured out what I like and what I don’t like.

I’m grateful for wicked, brilliant nights out with the gorgeous Bella and other friends. I’ve developed so many awesome new friendships because I’ve been single, and my long-standing friendships with some have deepened. I’m not recommending everyone run off and end a marriage, but I realise just how beneficial the journey has been for me. Okay, sure it’s been a mind fuck at times too!

I’ve embarked on a new chapter with a hot guy who has really challenged me and my perceptions of myself.  Life sure as hell hasn’t been dull with him!  I’m really enjoying getting to know other sides of the Producer that I haven’t seen before. He has let his guard down a little and it’s very nice to feel invited in a little more. He still turns me to jelly when he bats those baby blues!

Is it scary to love again? Yes!! Good grief! Anyone can love but not everyone can do so with courage and conviction. It’s taken me awhile to be sure that I even could. I’m so damn glad I’ve trusted my instincts. I’ve listened to great advice from awesome friends but in the end I’ve made my own decisions. Sometimes they were tough to make.

It’s nice that I’ve learnt from the past and I’ve actually gotten better at coping with life.

In the meantime – I’m feeling lighter for letting go of things from the past. I’m a little excited about where to from here.

 

Footnotes: Donations to the Clown Doctors can be made via:http://www.humourfoundation.com.au/

#Banksy #goodgirl #clowndoctors #HannahMoore #excitedaboutthefuture #introspective #dating #picketfence