You know how Facebook shows your memories? One popped up today for me that made me realize how much I’ve changed. I had made a comment about how great my birth year had been, and then I said I hoped that year – 2013 – would be so good to me as well.
A month later, my former husband started down a path that changed our family’s life forever. I now read those “before” time posts with a sense of astonishment at how naive I had been, how I thought my marriage was forever, and how incredibly shocked and hurt I was that someone I loved so much could treat me the way he did.
It’s been 7 years since then, and I have changed and grown in so many ways. I don’t trust like I used to. I know I’m the only one who’s really going to take care of me. I learned that loving someone is a choice we make every single day and that when someone chooses not to make that choice anymore, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. I learned that there are people in this world who only look out for themselves, who don’t give two shits if they’re insinuating themselves into someone else’s marriage or family.
I also learned that healing is not a straight path. People who love you want you to move on and feel better. They want to believe in happy endings and everything working out. For most of us, though, healing looks like two steps forward and one step back.
It’s filing the divorce papers and watching your cheating spouse’s shocked response and wondering if if you’re the one who made the mistake. It’s making decisions for your kids that keep them stable and secure while crying yourself to sleep at night because you hate being in your family/marital home without your kids’ dad. It’s feeling proud as hell when you fix that broken garbage disposal and then worrying about how you’re going to pay for the broken furnace.
But little by little, those steps backwards become half-steps. They sting a little less. The knowledge that it was not you who screwed up becomes more and more clear each time your former spouse acknowledges it was their fault, that they wish they could change things, that they’re the ones who are now living in a self-created hell.
If you’re a co-dependent, you start to see that the only person you can fix is yourself, and you take steps to do so. It’s hard because you’re used to being a martyr and needing to feel like you can do it all. Exhaustion is your love language.
And then something clicks, and you realize you only have so much life left to live. If you want to leave the family home, you look into selling it. If you want your kids to be independent, you teach them how. If you want love in your life, you open up to loving again.
It’s all just a collection of small choices and victories, sprinkled with disappointments and set-backs. And you learn that those victories have taken you places that bring you peace and satisfaction. And that gives you the courage to make the next choice. And the next choice. You make the choices with the full awareness that shit can go sideways at any moment. You make them knowing you’ll figure it out as you go. You make them depending not on anyone but yourself because yourself is wise and trustworthy.
All this from a stupid Facebook memory.