Dear 2014 Kristi,
I’m writing to you from five years in the future, and there are some important things you need to know.
The pain you’re in won’t last forever. The dark thoughts you’re having are understandable considering what he’s been doing, but I am here to tell you that you’re going to make it through this horrible time.
Keep putting your children first. They will be forever affected by his actions and yours, so keep maintaining stability for them. Don’t make rash decisions. Staying here instead of moving back to Florida will be a good decision for them. Your daughter will finish high school, and your son will thrive in middle school because you decided to stay and maintain consistency in their lives. You will be proud of how you stayed the course and helped them navigate this family crisis.
Open your eyes to who he really is and stop making excuses for his shitty behavior.
He is lying to you AND to her. He is enjoying his cake like nobody’s business. Stop worrying about him and what (who) he’s doing and take care of yourself. Although you think you can’t live without him, you will learn that you can. You will find reserves of strength and grace that you never knew you had. You will think this is all your fault. It is NOT. He is looking for happiness everywhere except inside himself, and that is not on you.
What you can’t see now is how sorry he will be later. He will cry and tell you he’s sorry and that he knows he screwed up. He will tell you this many times, but it will be too late, and you won’t believe him anyway because of all the lies he’s told. You will watch what he does now. Filing divorce papers will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you’ll finally realize your sanity is more important than his selfishness. It will be the right thing for you to do.
After the divorce is final, a weight will be lifted. You will feel more free than you have in a long time. You will have done so much personal work and made so many positive changes that you’ll feel like you can do anything. You will see your kids heal as you heal. You will create new family traditions and maintain those that still fit. You will continue to find solace with the friends and family who have held you up and supported you all the way down the line.
You will be so grateful to have gotten through it you will often be moved to tears. You will learn to be alone and like it. You will do what you want when you want to. You will learn that you are worth loving. You will know this because you will learn to love yourself. You will forgive yourself for not seeing the signs. You will forgive yourself for not putting yourself first when you learned what he was doing. You will learn that being a martyr never works. You will finally eat again, and you will rest, and you will heal, and you will love on your kids. You will do all of this for many years without your old crutch of alcohol, and you will be amazed at your power and strength.
You will be content and happy by yourself. The peace you feel within will be such a relief.
And then a pretty amazing thing will happen. You will decide you want to date again. I know you don’t want to think about that right now, but I promise you it’s true. You’ll write a list of things you want in a partner because you’ll decide through therapy and reflection that you really do want to grow old with someone. You will write down everything you hope to find in this person. You will write it down and put it away in a drawer and forget it.
You will forget it until you’re driving home one night in 2016 with a cheek-splitting smile on your face under a full moon. You will be smiling because you have just left the arms of a man whose smile is just as wide as yours, who kisses you like your mouth holds the air he breathes, who touches you with a gentleness you have craved for a long, long time. You will come home and dig up that list and realize that you conjured this man with that list and that you must be some sort of magician.
But as you get to know him – as you fall in love with him – you will learn that he also knows the darkness. You’ll learn he has walked a path of solitude and healing. You’ll learn that you are just as magical in his life as he is in yours. And you’ll realize it’s not a coincidence or magic. You’ll know deep in your heart that all the trials and heartache, the darkness and the healing – all of it – was leading you first to yourself and then to him.
You will show one another what love looks like at its best. It won’t be perfect, but it will be healthy. And though you can’t see it now, you will be so grateful to have moved forward. You will be so grateful for a chance to be with someone who wants to hold your hand as much and as often as you want to hold his.
The greatest gift, though, is that you will learn to stand on your own two feet. You will be whole and healthy just as you are. You will know how to love yourself better than anyone else ever could. You can’t see it now, but you are going to be ok – better than ok.
I know this because I’ve got your back.