Looking back on my marriage, as I do often these days, I knew I had the words for it back then. I knew exactly how I felt. I had no problem expressing them. I was kind in the beginning, but toward the end…I couldn’t tolerate the total disregard any longer. To no avail…all the therapy, books, patience, and eventually isolation, did it solve how the dynamic, or rather cycle played itself out. It was the last time I was reminded of these words that the devastation rolled through anew. How could I forget. I played into it again. ‘Cause really, I just want to be a good person.
Within a month of the marriage something was seriously wrong. We went into couples counseling. I took away from it that we had different communication styles. I wanted to be a different type of guy and be able to be patient, be available, use my words, adjust my tone. She always reminded me of my tone especially when we were in public. It didn’t matter what we talked about tone was very important for her. I continued to do some work on myself. Sure, I need to soften some edges. About nine months into the marriage I picked up this book, The Gaslight Effect. I read it completely and saw my relationship with my mother play out on most of the pages. It was too familiar. A lot of the feelings I was having with my now ex-wife were playing out on the pages. I wasn’t sure if I was perpetrating it, but knowing how alike I am to my mother I became hyper aware of my actions from that point on.
I was five years into transition, intending to be a different kind of man. Have feelings, express them, be more patient than others, anticipate needs…I defaulted to her decisions. Well, I finished the book and then promptly gave it a friend in hopes it would help them.. We had stopped going to therapy because of the cost. And we would go through cycles. I would hold out longer and longer tolerating the emotional stuffing down and rebuffing when expressing the emotions. After reading the book I tried my hardest to not to create that dynamic over my ex. Why didn’t I recognize it was actually over me? Was it because I gave away the words?
As I walked out the door it was clear what was happening. I was appalled at my life at that moment. Weeks later I fell into old programming. I had to be careful. I was defending her. I lied to my parents about her claiming their gift to me. The process of divorce and the struggle withing that process is just so…I’m going to quote a friend’s message to me…
There is a splitting apart of the self when two people part ways because so much of yourself is wrapped around the other person – memories, experiences. It’s like trying to half a piece of caramel. You pull and all these stringy messy bits get all over the place. It’s a hot mess. But in the end, you’re holding piece of caramel in your hand and if you can get past the discomfort of it being messy, you realize the caramel is still delicious and you savor the taste of it even more.
In the end I just couldn’t do it her way, I had been doing it her way from the beginning. She couldn’t bear to compromise. The words came ringing back like a huge temple bell. Third time is a charm for me. I became more active…I found more words…Narcissistic Abuse.
On April 18, 2008, my ex-wife and I got our marriage license at city hall way too easily. We just showed our I.D. and signed a paper. I also celebrated my 35th birthday. On April 18, 2017, I signed a marriage settlement agreement and finalized my divorce in my head and my heart. I also celebrated my 44th birthday. It was an extraordinary gift to myself.
YOLO…’Treat yo ‘self’