“i am mine. before i am anyone else’s.” -in
He traveled for work and eventually I resented raising four children, close in age, alone. Gone for weeks, sometimes months, our time together was hostile and riddled with fighting. These fights lead to the ugly truth that would become the downfall of my perfect life.
Month by month, my life began to unravel from the very seams it was built on. Nine years into our marriage, I suffered three miscarriages, one life-threatening. Following emergency surgery, I did the indescribable at a time when I was drowning in grief and buried my son. A heartache so vastly profound I never thought I would emerge from the darkness that enveloped me in utter sadness.
Amidst my pain, I blamed myself and feeling utterly hopeless, I worried my other children would suffer. I worried incessantly they would never see a vibrant, happy mother again. My husband, at the time, never stuck around through that part. He never even showed up at the hospital during or post- surgery. He was no where to be found, while I crawled thru utter darkness alone and found my way back to the light. What did I do, but continue to be a devoted wife, honoring my vows to love my husband with every fiber of my being.
I stood silent for many years. Hiding behind my story and shame. The one where I had a perfect life, great children, and an even better marriage. I kept his secrets and by doing so, held myself hostage in a world of neglect, lies, and abuse. It was my job to honor the commitment to our marriage even if that included martyrdom. It was my sole responsibility to be altruistic and prevent another broken family by society’s standards.
I was crafted from the fiber of the old ways. No matter what struggles you experience in your marriage, you keep going. Hide your secrets and any pain by all means necessary. You allow him to be a man and you bear that cross with your blood and tears. Literally, that is what happened.
Two other reasons fueled my delay in leaving my marriage. The belief I could not survive financially on my own. The amount of money I would earn did not cover the costs of childcare. I did not have any family members available to play nanny. I quickly discovered, to my surprise, survival was the reason most women stayed.
,Reason number two, it seems absolutely Ludacris in the grand scheme of relevant issues; but I feared dating. I did not want to die a spinster but, who would want to date a single mom with four children, for more than just sex? I had not dated in more than twenty years. Who would take the time to know the heart of me, if my husband of almost two decades neglected to? Yet, another reason we stay, complacency and fear of starting over. Reasons I surmise, kept the divorce numbers low, six decades ago.
Marriage in today’s world is unbelievably challenging by anyone’s standards. Traditional marriages survived, because both parties accepted and dedicated themselves to proficiency in their roles. Men knew what was required of them, as did women. My great Aunt was married for over 60 years, until her husband passed away. Albeit, they had separate bedrooms, they accomplished what they vowed to. Until death do us apart.
The cards are stacked against us today in the survival of happy, healthy functioning, affair proof marriages. We need two incomes to scarcely live decent. This puts enormous stress on the family and seems to never be enough. The options for married men and women to stray can unravel at the push of a button. Social media has made us less sociable and we have lost all sense of community. The community where divorce was an embarrassment to your family and it was few and far between. Where it used to take a village, it’s now every man for himself.
I followed the plan. I believed in it with my whole heart and soul. I never imagined the plan was flawed and yet, here we are today and can never go back. Today’s 50 years is 10 if you can manage. Our generations are no longer built with the same values or stamina to last in a marriage for 50 or 60 years. There advice for today’s couples is simplistic in nature and impossible to follow. The shelf life now a days for marriage, seems to unravel around year seven.
It’s Abraham Hicks who says all relationships and marriages should go, “I like you pretty much, let’s see how it goes.” Who cares if we throw away the old paradigm of having to end up at the alter anyways? It doesn’t mean you cannot be in committed partnership nor walk down the isle in a beautiful white dress. It means your happiness is relevant and a priority. Who ever said life is about martyrdom and self-sacrifice? That value passed down to us, proved to bring about tremendous loss instead of inner peace and fulfillment. Have our values changed that drastically from our mothers and their mothers?
Does it really matter if you thought you had your dream man, walked down the isle only to end up single again? If I had stayed in a broken marriage, I would have only set out to teach my children the dark side of unhealed wounds mistaken for love.
Now that I am single, I have taken a stroll in the free love movement. Always careful and with protection, I found it absolutely liberating and empowering. This is not something our mothers taught us. Owning your sexuality, beyond cultural roles, as men do, is fantastic. It’s another puzzle piece I found and integrated into my true authentic self. That self empowerment led me into a deep exploration of my sacred sexuality and I discovered a love for kink. Who says divorce can not be a gift?
I am not anti-marriage. I am pro-me first and foremost. I hope to have the wedding I always dreamed of with my dream partner, which will look like a commitment ceremony in the forest. No need for paperwork and name changes. That’s not what love looks like today. Today, it looks like emotional freedom and interdependence. My partner honoring me beyond gender roles. Love that is so unconditional, it defies external constraints. Honoring space for one another and our individual pursuits, we rise and grow together. Equally.
Photo credit Jeremy Wong Weddings courtesy of Unsplash.
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