I like to fold my laundry. One towel at a time. One shirt at a time. In the same way. Every time. But like laundry, and folding, and putting away. It is never done. Just when you think you have it finished, there is another load or the blankets that haven’t been washed in months or the dirty clothes you find your daughter hid under her bed…you get the idea. The laundry is there whether you see it or not. And most of the time it is in some sense of an order: in hampers over here, in the machine over there, folded in the drawer over there. But when you are going through a divorce and you look back on what it looked like, you realize that shit was all over the fucking place, you were all over the fucking place and all you could see was dirty laundry everywhere.
And this is what I have realized for myself. In order to finalize a divorce, it took an unresolved focus on the negative which was in disarray and all over the place. Let me start by saying I am generally not a negative person. I look for hope in hopeless situations. I try to find the best in the worst. I really try my best to see the good and true in each person and situation.
But when I was doing the whole divorce thing, I somehow knew the good would set me back. The good would cause me to cave. The good was not good but in fact bad. So I had to turn negative. I had to find it inside myself to focus on the hurt and pain and lost hopes. I had an unbalanced focus on all the things, all the evidence I had collected which would ensure that I could stay strong through the process. I remember noticing that my family would get annoyed with me for telling them all the nonsense and all of the things that my ex was doing on a day to day basis that would piss me off. I placed blame, lots of blame on him for this situation I was going through. I tried so hard not to cry or care or worry about how things would turn out, but I needed to go through it. I needed to cry and hate and I hate that was how I got through it. Sure, there were moments, but I wanted to be done so bad that I knew that if I allowed myself the tiniest window of hope, I might open it and jump through it. I did not want to go back there. I knew it wasn’t right. It wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t going to change. So I had to change for a time. I had to focus on the ugly and the hurtful and the pain and in essence become a negative, broken person. And then the divorce was final.
And then I broke. I broke wide open. I let all of the anger, the pain, the heartache take over. For one whole day I laid in my own self-pity and let myself die inside so that I could live again.
And somehow I survived. I came out stronger. I came out forgetting the horrible, terrible, and totally unimaginable things that I had gone through. And I began to focus on all of the things that my ex does well. He is a good dad. He does the best he can with the tools he has. He has grown, from the limited amount of perspective I have. He has set boundaries with me. He has worked to take the kids and be available and do the best he can. I can see that. I can see that he is still hurt and it hurts me that he is hurt. Because there is no joy in knowing someone is hurting, especially someone you loved for so very long and for someone your kids love so very much. And that hurts. I hurt because of the humanity. I don’t feel guilty anymore, I feel true empathy and compassion. I don’t want to fix his hurt. I don’t want to change his hurt. I don’t want to rescue him or help him or give him the tools that he might not use. I just want to feel for him because he is a person and I know what hurt feels like. That is the unfolding. I can unfold long enough to feel the pain that someone else is feeling. I can not pity him but truly empathize for what he might be going through. I can unfold now and see how the hurt helped the growth. Unfolding has made me a better human.
Next post…how to think about dating after divorce.