Turn the Page

Well, I did it. I have turned the page to the next chapter in my life. After several years of inching toward this goal, I have now reached it … I am now on my own.

So how does it feel? Bittersweet. If you expect me to be dancing in the streets in celebration then you don’t know me very well. This is the next step toward the end of my third marriage. When looking at it through that filter, there is nothing to be happy about. Marriage is supposed to be a ‘forever’ thing, as unrealistic as that may be. I can name five people I know who lived that ideal … my parents and four of my best high school friends. My parents celebrated a 50th anniversary and three of those four high school friends have past their 30th. Two of those three are happily married and the third tolerates problems because of the security even a troubled marriage can provide.

My first two marriages lasted less than two years each. The first ended entirely because of my immaturity. The second ended mostly because of hers. This one lasted sixteen years but was in trouble for at least the past ten. I won’t go into details here, but let’s just say I saw the issues a long time ago and chose to ignore them. People sometimes think they can change people to conform to their expectation, but my belief is that they cannot.

Although I blame her for most of our issues, I admit that I allowed myself to lose much of my identity in this relationship. I was so ready to compromise and to avoid conflict that I didn’t stand up for my own wishes nearly enough.

A few years ago I blogged about my ’20 things’ theory of relationships. Each person has several characteristics, beliefs and personality traits that make them who they are; let’s say there are twenty of those. People initially connect on two or three. Because each wants the other to like them, they reveal a few more things that are similar to the first two or three. They start a relationship, fall in love, learn a few more things about each other that they might not like but they assume there are more positive compatibility factors that will offset the negatives. Then they wake up one day many years later and realize that the only ‘things’ they truly connect on are the original two or three. That is what happened to me. And there were huge disconnects, some that hit the very core of who I am … or who I was before I lost so much of my identity.

My choice was to continue down that path or to regain my identity. I tried a few times to be the real ‘me’ but realized that would never happen as long as I stayed in that relationship. That realization is frustrating and depressing. I tried many times several years ago to convince her that we needed counseling, but she refused. Only when it became obvious three years ago that I was serious about our broken marriage did she accept that we needed professional help. For me it was too late. Emotionally I was already done with this.

For a variety of financial and legal reasons, it took from then till now to finally make the break. I am happy to be on my own but also sad that things could not work out. I gave up a lot to get to this point. I second-guessed my actions many times, as recently as a few weeks ago. I cried my ass off the day I finally moved. I got what I wanted but this is not at all how I wanted my life to turn out.

I am a confident man in most aspects of my life and I know that I am moving forward to a better life. I also know that this next chapter is not the destination but is merely another few miles of the journey.