I remember the exact moment that was a turning point for me in the decision to end my marriage of 16 years. I was sitting in the therapist’s office on the dark brown leather couch loosely holding on to one of the green accent pillows for comfort. I went alone either because he chose not to go or I didn’t invite him. Either way, I was there to talk about my marriage. What I talked about that day in general, I don’t remember; however, I gave myself permission to be emotional–a luxury I don’t often allow.
I looked at my therapist, slowly removed my glasses and set them on the table, and began to wipe the tears off my cheeks. I leaned forward and said, “I am so tired of being in survival mode all of the time. I just can’t live like this anymore.” She looked at me and paused. The words floated up to the surface and began to settle with the weight of lifeless truth. Then she asked me, “Have you told your husband that?” That question slapped me in the face and left a scar.
I drove back to work and those words “I can’t live like this anymore” haunted me. For some going to therapy might lead to answers, for me it almost always leads to more questions. Was I really in survival mode? Did I even know what “living in survival mode” really meant? Should I tell him how I feel? Will he believe me? What can I change? Was I being overdramatic? Couldn’t I just “get it together” like I had so often told him to do?
The weeks and months following that bold admission are as fuzzy as a computer monitor about to go out. The images appear blurred and layered. It is difficult to determine where marriage ends and divorce begins. I try to remember what I said, what he said, and what conversations took place so that I can frame this seemingly impossible mess of a life I am working through. I want clarity. I want to make sense of it all. I want to go back and watch it over and over like re-runs of my favorite TV shows where I have the lines memorized. Yet, there are no lines to memorize because in order to cope they must be forgotten. The memories of the past year are forever tangled and reverberate back to me jumbled like voices inside of a cave. As hard as I try, they cannot be relegated back to their original states: marriage and divorce.
Upon reflection, I suppose the narrow thought that my marriage ended that day in therapy is a fallacy. That was simply the conscious admission of what I knew to be true for several years. Someone once told me that a marriage doesn’t end overnight, it erodes over time. One day you wake up and realize that the sharp jagged rocks that were once used to keep your marriage safe from outside predators have been worn down and you roll over and realize you are sleeping next to a shark.