apple guava

apple guava
December 31
licensed to ill
dissolving divorcee. perpetual student. emotional paper cut.


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NOVEMBER 17, 2008 6:19PM

Dying a little every day...

Rate: 10 Flag

Right now I’m delirious. Why? Because the magnitude of a decision I’ve made has finally hit me. I’m leaving a really good, stable man who loved me too pieces and treated me really well (at least materially) for a life I have to create for myself out of basically nothing. I’m not doing it alone—I have a lover who claims he wants to marry me and make me the mother of his child, but he’s six years younger than me, in his mid-twenties and we all know how the things you say when you’re 24 become the things you joke about when you’re 30.  

The thought of being alone has always scared the shit out of me. It hasn’t kept me from doing a lot of things (I lived abroad by myself, I moved to a huge city by myself), but it has made me orient myself in my new life with a certain defensiveness and a certain hesitancy and a certain doubtfulness about how well my ridiculously high expectations of places and people will be met. In other words, my fear of being alone sets up a social dynamic whereby I end up depressed, and thus, alone.

When I think through all the reasons why my ex and I had to break up, they make totally rational sense. We fought constantly and couldn’t figure out a way to communicate. We had totally different life goals. His family didn’t fully accept or like me (funny, they have been much nicer to me now that they know we’re breaking up), and he would always side with them against me. He wanted kids soon; I wasn’t sure I wanted them at all. I didn’t even find him sexually attractive anymore, and his number one way of showing and receiving affection was in the boudoir.

So why does this hurt so badly? Why do I feel like my heart is breaking, my chest is being ripped apart? Why am I only now feeling the effects of a decision that was made seven months ago?  

It’s because I’m about to move out in a few weeks. You see, to mitigate some of the pain of this divorce, and also for financial and practical reasons, we chose to stay living together until I’m financially able to take care of myself. That day is about to come and you wouldn’t believe the separation anxiety I feel. The life I’ve known for the past almost 8 years is about to end. Of course, I’m happy about making positive changes in my life and know that it can’t all be roses and sunshine, but there is a part of me that is so devastated by the finality of this decision that it almost feels like someone (or rather, something) has died. I’m grieving at a magnitude I haven't felt since my ex’s mother died four years ago.

Divorce is a kind of death—the memories that you shared with that person—the neurons that you created as a result of the relationship—they synapse and synapse—but there’s nothing there. Nothing on the other side of the synaptic cleft previously occupied by your ex-spouse. All you have left are the pictures on your MacBook of all the vacations you took together, and the remnants of your wedding day staring you in the face. God, this hurts.

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Once you are out and on your own you may find that feeling free beats having more money in the bank.
I went thru this once. Divorce is very hard and very lonely road. But, after you are done with it, it will be worth while. Just hard. But life is tough, and hard. Some times the choices we make are not the best. Then comes decision time. You make the choices and then comes the results. Stick up for yourself. The good comes later. Trust me on this one. heartfelt post. very personal and very good.
You just need some time. There's a reason it wasn't working, you just don't see the whole picture yet. Take care of yourself, do Not believe you need a man or a significant other to complete you, and you will be walking and then running toward things on your own two pegs. Two s(y)naps(e) up!
I can't say that I've been through the same thing because... well no one ever really goes through the same thing as anyone else, but I can sympathize with your first couple of sentences especially. The first major relationship I ever had was with a man that absolutely adored me. We had our small problems sure, but I'm telling you he would have brought the moon to my doorstep if there were a way. I left him and the life we'd made together because as great as he was I wasn't in love with him.
I felt like a stupid, selfish piece of crap for a long time. And I questioned my decision almost every minute of every day for at least three months. Then I started to remember what it was like to be just me again. And it started to hurt less and less. Just give yourself a little time. It's an uncompromising mistress, but it really does heal all wounds.
Wow, apple guava, are you me? I went through exactly what you are going through in 2007... leaving a wonderful man who loved me, living together though separated for months because of financial reasons, taking up with a lover 6 years younger than me in his twenties, and pain, pain, pain, pain. The only difference is that I was the one with money and he was the one with none.

It has been over a year and I wish I could tell you that the pain has gone away, but it has not. It hasn't even really dulled. Your life on your own will probably involve more fun, more laughter, more sex, more adventure...and also more self-doubt, more guilt, more despair, and a constant feeling of rootlessness. It is tough to be a 30 year old woman with no plan, right when everyone else you know is settling down and having babies. It is devastating to accept the death of a dream. It is hard to move from years of imagining one kind of future for yourself to not knowing what the hell you want or what's going to happen. And you are right, divorce is death.

One thing I can tell you is that things WILL get immediately better when you are no longer living together. It will be an enormous relief. There is nothing worse than living with the person who *used* to be the love of your life. But the deep feelings of heartbreak won't go away. A year later my heart is still broken. A sexy young lover who adores you is helpful and will bring light to your life but won't heal your heart entirely. Especially when you will forever doubt him (perhaps unfairly), based on your own history and sense that you were naive at his age. Boy do I feel your pain right now. Good luck.
I held on to a bad tooth for a long time.
See, it was in a prominent place in my mouth and I thought I couldn't get on without it. But one day I had it pulled, the roots killed and a nice replacement installed.

Sure it hurt to let it go, and the initial anxiety was overwhelming, but I am better now for doing that. I was back to smiling in no time.

You will be, too.
wow excellent metaphor, rijaxn. or was that a s(i)mile?

(I'm sorry; I couldn't help it)
This well written post provoked some negative feelings I haven't felt in a long time. I will spare you them. I understand your inner battle but I thing you should focus on the difference between alone and loneliness. Being alone can be a great, empowering thing. Choosing to be lonely is a negative based on worry and fear. I wish you the best in your struggle but I must admit my sympathies are more with your soon to be ex-husband. Have you considered the integrity of your lover ? An honorable man would not fool around with a married woman so don't be disappointed when he acts dishonorably with you in the future, it appears to be his nature.
Everyone who I've known that's gone through a divorce, the harshest and most civil, have had these same feelings. I think it's natural. You're losing a part of your life...It is a sort of "death". Like with the loss via death, time will heal your wounds.

Good luck.
Tell your ex to contact me. Sounds like he could use someone to talk to.

By your very well written description, your ex sounds like a sincere guy who's had his heart crushed, life destroyed, and future shattered. Thoughtful touch to note approvingly that your young lover wants to have a baby with you, but that was a negative with your ex-husband. Man, I hope he doesn't know about or read your blog.

If you can't see a certain cruelty in your actions and calculations as described here, you're missing the empathy gene. And *you're* the one suffering grief?
I think you need to lose the younger lover. It's a rebound thing and those are never a good idea. When you divorce, the two of you are ripped apart and there are a thousand nerve ends left dangling. It's probably the most terrible thing you'll ever do. On a scale of the worst things, psychologically speaking, that can happen in one's life, divorce ranks second only to the death of a child. But if you have this rebound guy you're just postponing the inevitable. If you're going to do this thing you need to do it alone, except for friends to lean on. After two years you may be ready for a new relationship.
The thing I found myself surprised to feel (at the time - it makes perfect sense in retrospect) was shame.

Shame shame shame.

And all of that shame was completely internal. That is, none of it was ever expressed to me by someone outside of myself. It was clear that the relationship wasn't working, and not a single one of our friends ever told me I was doing the wrong thing by leaving her. And I was ashamed.

I was ashamed because a relationship is a thing unto itself. I spent years working on this thing, trying to make it something I could live in and with. In the end, I was ashamed that I had failed at something I wanted so very badly to do well.

It will take a while to heal. You'll be having imaginary arguments with your ex while you drive home from work. You'll find something sweet he gave you for Christmas and wonder what the f you're supposed to do with it now.

Keep the lover, but don't make any more big decisions for a while.

Good luck!

Andy A
A big life lesson: Pain doesn't mean it isn't the right decision. Some things just hurt. Some things are just hard. It's normal for them to be painful or sad.

Honestly, if you felt blithe about it all, that would be the worrying thing. It would suggest that you don't take your life, yourself or your partners seriously; that you are cut off from your feelings and those of others.

Feeling sadness, grief, fear and even confusion is often a very very healthy sign. It's only in our emotionally f***ed culture that we think any type of sadness or pain is somehow "wrong". But often it's the absolutely normal response to what's happening.
How long did the two of you go to couples counseling? I hope it was a while. If you didn't it may come back to bite you that you didn't do everything to save your marriage.

My ex wanted to do counseling. Told me to go and find one. When I did, she didn't like him. Some BS story about how she had met him someplace and he had made a pass at her. First I'd ever heard of anything like that.
Alone doesn't mean lonely. You can be more lonely in a bad relationship than by yourself.
I feel for you, and I feel even more for your ex. You both will move on. You already have....
"I’m leaving a really good, stable man who loved me too pieces and treated me really well . . . You see, to mitigate some of the pain of this divorce, and also for financial and practical reasons, we chose to stay living together until I’m financially able to take care of myself."

"I have a lover who claims he wants to marry me . . . "

So the "good stable man" pays the bills and puts food on the table while you're fucking someone else.

I guess it's a good gig if you can get it. But pardon me if I don't celebrate your new found "freedom."
P.S. Guava, I don't think it matters how bad your relationship was or how "valid" your reasons are for leaving -- you will still feel doubt, guilt, shame, nostalgia, tenderness towards your ex, anger towards your ex, and a sense of failure.

At least that's been my experience, and that of most divorced people I know. In my case, our marriage ended because my ex had developed an addiction problem so severe that he landed in jail and the hospital several times, cost me tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, seriously injured (by accident, but because of the substance abuse) my beloved pet, put himself and me in physical danger, etc. So I had what most people would agree was a perfectly legitimate reason for finally giving up and divorcing him. But that's the thing -- I still GAVE UP. I failed. We had a dream and it failed. I still wonder if I could have done more to help him, could have fixed things. I still worry about him terribly. I still think about all the things we did wrong. I think any divorced person (except perhaps those who were left against their will) will always have these feelings.

My mother has been divorced for 23 years and happily remarried for 15 and she STILL can't bring herself to look at her divorce decree because it brings up so many feelings of shame/regret/failure. I'm not trying to be a downer -- being divorced is substantially better than being lonely and miserable in a relationship -- but I don't know if it's something you ever truly and fully get over. I would imagine that those who do are fairly shallow people who probably didn't ever care much for their spouse in the first place.
Wow, judge much, people?

Am I the only one who caught the part about they fought constantly, they couldn't communicate, he sided with his family against her, and they wanted different things out of life?

There is always a lot more going on in a break-up than outsiders know, and a failed marriage is only very rarely one partner's fault. For y'all to be making these judgments based on the little you know from this post is ludicrous. For you to be presenting them as fact instead of opinion is worse.

It's pretty easy to get additional info on AG's relationship--read her prior post. Quoting here:

"Much has happened this year that has made me completely question the way I behave in relationships. For starters, the marriage I’d only been in for a little over a year went down the tubes. We had been together for more than seven years, but most of those years were unhappy. We got married to try to forge on and salvage the relationship, but instead the opposite happened—the finality of marriage further drove home that we were stuck in an unhappy relationship and couldn’t get out. But then we both fell in love with other people and all of a sudden “getting out” became much easier."

Hm. Seems it wasn't all as one-sided, cold, bitchy, hard-hearted, etc., as some of y'all supposed.

Even if this other post hadn't been available--and by the way, I think some of you owe her an apology now that you know more of the story--you shouldn't have been making judgments and assumptions on such a skimpy source of information.

Now, I will say straight up that this is a hot-button issue for me, because I've been there. I left my husband for a younger man. A lot of people decided I was a horrible person for that. Most of them didn't know we'd been talking about a divorce for over a year but hadn't made the move because of financial entanglements--a condo, a house, car and motorcycle payments, credit cards, etc. We hadn't been in love for a long time, probably for the last 4-5 years of our 18 year relationship. We didn't want the same things. I wanted to stop spending, he kept buying new toys. I wanted to move out of San Diego, and go someplace where $100k/year didn't put us in the lower middle class because of the high cost of living; he didn't want to leave the sun. He was passive-aggressive and drove me crazy; I was crazy and drove him crazy. We didn't agree on anything anymore. We were starting not to like each other It was pretty horrible.

Nothing had pushed us to finally make the break until I started to fall for an acquaintance of ours, a guy 9 years younger than me. My ex and I made about $100k/year together; this guy made about $20k/year in the Navy, so obviously it was a dumb idea, financially. The ex and I continued to "share" our house, although I essentially moved in with the younger guy very quickly; I continued to pay the ex rent to help out with expenses, while also paying rent at my new place. I made my own vehicle payments, and made payments toward the credit card. I left my ex everything we owned except my personal stuff--books, grandma's antique bed, paintings.

Of course I knew the new guy wouldn't be long term, rebounds never are. Right? Um, yeah, except we've been together 11-1/2 years now and our 8th anniversary is next week. We have a very weird relationship that most people probably don't get, but we adore each other--most of the time, anyway.

The ex is now happily married with two step-sons (him, who didn't even want cats because they were too much responsibility!) and is a great dad. He's smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley and loves city life; I'm hunkered down out in the country and enjoying my acre and my birds and my squirrels and all my critters. We'd both be miserable in the other's chosen lifestyle, and we'd probably hate each other by now. Instead we're both happier than we were together. It turned out to be the very best thing that could have happened to either of us.

Judge not, folks. Glass houses and all that.

/Rant off.
I just want to say thank you, everyone, for your comments. Some of them were difficult to hear, but there is a grain of truth in what each of you have posted. Thank you again. I will post more soon with further details about the break-up and marriage that will hopefully clarify and answer some of the questions you've raised.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season,
apple guava
I'm an expert on breaking up. I've done it many times in my life. Each time hurt more than I imagined possible; with several lovers, I kept reuniting and breaking up again just to escape the pain.

Years later, with another lover, I left, and ... blissful peace. The difference is that you have to know who you are and what you want. It takes a while to answer those questions.