Tag Archives: love

Guest post: How my marriage ended

Sometimes we have words and emotions that we want to share, but we don’t. Maybe because the emotions are incredibly raw and we feel we may be exposing too much of ourselves. Maybe because the truths we are admitting to are painful for ourselves and the ones we have loved. 

Today’s post is an anonymous contribution by a wonderfully talented and courageous friend who made an enormous life decision this year. A decision that many people consciously choose to never make.

She shares her experience of separating from her husband, and the lessons that arose from this immense change. Reading the words below fill me with two things: the first is a bittersweet comfort in knowing that we humans all face similar challenges, and the second is a great deal of admiration for my friend. 


The world doesn’t always need to know about your inner turmoil.

So it’s been many months since I shared my writing publicly. But now, I feel like I’ve emerged from a very tough time, and have found my voice again. And it’s telling the story of how my marriage ended. I don’t know if there are lessons in it for anyone else. But I do know that when I was uncertain and adrift, it was comforting to know that others had trodden the same path before me.

Before

Separating from my husband three months ago was not the catalyst for the crisis; the crisis was a long, slow unraveling of a formerly happy marriage.

I left when I was out of options and out of love. The best advice I received, from two of the most trusted mentors in my life, was this: don’t leave until you’ve tried everything you can do to make it work. You’ll know when you reach that point.

These two wise men knew that in moments of guilt and doubt and fear, the anchor that would keep me weighted down – sane and resolved – was the firm belief that this was the right, and the only, decision.

My husband rails against his lack of agency in this process. He says it fits the paradigm of our marriage, where I controlled everything. He says I can’t imagine the way that feels. I don’t deny this.

But being the one to make the decision – the leaver, not the ‘leavee’ – carries with it a different type of anguish.

And he underestimates the lack of control I felt as our marriage disintegrated. The times I tried to get through to him, to break through a carapace of emotional disengagement and distance.

Like a moth that hurls itself against the window, over and over, trying to reach the light inside, I tried everything I could think of to reach him, when he had stopped feeling anything much at all. Depressed, embittered, exhausted – I think he was all of these things. I feel for him, and his pain, which he has only just recognised, and is now trying to address.

But sadly, you can’t hurl yourself forever without getting tired and demoralised yourself. When someone stops engaging with you emotionally, at some point, you’ll do the same.

This is what they call ‘falling out of love’. A brief and prosaic description for a long and painful process.

Three months ago, I intervened in this process. To say ‘I left’ seems such a brief and inadequate description. It fails to express the intensity of emotion involved in reaching that decision, and then in carrying it out.

It’s not a new story – in fact it’s so common that it seems like a cliché. And yet I plumbed depths of sadness and guilt and tears that were hitherto unknown to me.

As all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, every marriage breakdown is momentously and uniquely painful in its own way.

Afterwards

Here I am, three months later. It’s my birthday. I’m officially closer to 40 than 30. In my lighter moments I call myself a divorcée – I like the French emphasis, suggesting something scandalous about a woman who has left the confines of marriage.

My life has changed fundamentally. I swapped the house in the suburbs for an inner-city apartment. I own about a quarter of the ‘stuff’ I used to – much of it left behind, much of it given away. I spend more time out and less time doing domestic things.

I feel lighter. Yes, happier. It’s partly the satisfaction of certainty, after spending so long with one foot out the door, one eye on the world outside.

I’m probably a little more selfish, as I only have myself to worry about. I’ll construe that as ‘nurturing myself’ for the time being.

Lessons

I’ve been amazed and touched by the kindness and generosity of the people around me. Friends, family and colleagues have been so supportive. Help has come from unexpected quarters. People are wonderful.

In my darker moments this year, I wondered if I had the courage to do this – to leave. When that happened, I would invoke the spirit of my great-grandmother, who literally ran way from home in 1923, leaving a narrow and lonely life on a farm with her father and her ‘illegitimate’ child, to start a new life with my great-grandfather.

I’ve read the letter she wrote to her father in explanation, and her pain is palpable. She can’t imagine decades stretching ahead in this lonely life, and yet she acutely feels the pain she will cause to those left behind.

She left anyway.

I never met her, so I’ll never know if she believed that she made the right decision. But I draw on her courage and spirit. And at this moment, I feel like I’m in the right place for me.

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Grandma on life, ageing, young people, musicians and more

In late August I spent some time with my grandparents in Argentina.

My Mum’s Mum, Dora, lives in a city about an hour’s flight north of Buenos  She is a healthy, active, clever and witty woman, and on this visit I transcribed some of our conversations  because they made me laugh, smile or think. Here are some of them!

Grandma on Facebook
Me: “Guess what, grandma! Our photo got over a hundred likes on Facebook, and lots of nice comments from my friends. They said that you’re beautiful!”
(Show her Facebook on my phone)
Grandma: “Ahhh, how nice! And what is this? Some kind of club?”
Me: “Kinda, it’s an online network for all your friends to connect to.”
Grandma: “Oh it’s like a website where your friends meet!”

Me and Grandma

Grandma on convenience and frugality
“I just go to the closest shops. I don’t have time to go to the markets where the food is cheaper. Back in the day when the girls were young, yes. Because it’s important to save money to give your children the best opportunities. Which we did as much as we could. For example, when they went to study in the United States, that was a great opportunity for them. But then it came back and got the best of me because they liked the world and moved far away to Australia and New Zealand!”

Grandma on life’s balance
“Everything has its good and its bad. That’s what life is about.”

Grandma on housing and eyeballs
“The houses that you can have in Australia and New Zealand, well, if you wanted ones like that here you have to pay with an eyeball, and then another eyeball. And if you have an extra eyeball, they’ll take that one, too!”

Housing Cartoon

Grandma on the newspaper
Grandma: “The newspaper is skinny today! It’s on a diet!”
Me: “Why is it so thin?”
Grandma: “Well, everything is skinnier in this country now. They’re cutting down on everything these days!”

Grandma on the media
“Here you go, you can read the paper, if you want to get depressed!”

Grandma on talking about other people
“We should never say too much about other people. Everyone lives in their own world and we can never presume to understand them or their lives the way we each understand our own.”

Grandma on age
Grandma: “How old am I?”
Me (jokingly): “Ninety-four.”
Grandma: “You little cheeky one! No I’m not!”
Me: “Haha, no, I’m kidding, you’re a bit less than that! But I reckon you will live till a hundred.”
Grandma: “One hundred! Oh no, that’s too much! I know some people my age who say a hundred is too much, but that they’ll happily live to ninety-five. Really, ninety-five, a hundred, what’s the difference at that stage of the game?!”

Grandma on getting older versus dying
“Oh gosh, I forgot to do that. See what happens at this age? You forget. It’s one of the burdens of getting older. But then, the only cure for not getting older is death, and that’s no good to us!”

Grandma on love
“When I met your grandfather I wasn’t the only girl he was chasing, oh I know that much! But I’m the only one who gave in, after a while of course! I joked with him that I was his prize for perseverance!”
NB: My grandpa passed away when I was about three, and he remains my grandma’s one and only love.

Grandma on young people
“I think young people these days have too much happening. People are rushed and busy. There’s too much. Things were simpler back in my day.”

Grandma on being hungry
(Waiting for our meals to arrive): “Gosh, where are our schnitzels? They’re really making us wait! You’re going to look like a sandwich to me soon. Or a chicken drumstick! You know, like in the cartoons, when they’re hungry, everything looks like a chicken drumstick!”

Hungry

Grandma on wine
Grandma: “Do you want some wine with lunch?”
Me: “Sure, why not!”
Grandma: “Ah, see, you’re definitely my granddaughter!”

Grandma on film
Me: “Did you know, you were born the same year as Stanley Kubrick?”
Grandma: “Ahhh yes, and what a great man he was! Many amazing achievements and cinematography firsts. That Space Odyssey: 2001 – what a film!”

Grandma on superstition and space travel
Grandma: “Which way did you fly to get here?”
Me: “I went from Sydney to San Francisco first, then came here via Houston.”
Grandma: “Ahhh, Houston! What movie was that from?”
Me: “Apollo 13 – ‘Houston, we have a problem’.”
Grandma: “And what was the problem again? But seriously, if my spaceship was called Apollo 13, you wouldn’t see me travel in it even to the end of the street!”

Grandma on musicians
“My father didn’t really let me go to dances when I was young. You see, for a while he was a musician and played in a band, so I think he knew what musicians were like and he didn’t want his daughter to have anything to do with that, haha!”

Sexy Bach

 

Housing cartoon from here.
Garfield cartoon from here.

Sexy Bach image from Quickmeme.

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