Last April, my wife and I accepted our marriage had failed. I moved into an apartment in Washington, DC., trying to make sense of things.
I was in shock. I assumed we’d work out whatever issues we faced. I had believed we’d grow old together.
It appears that’s no longer the case.
There was no betrayal nor third parties leading to our breakup. We had simply transformed from a couple into two strangers occupying the same house.
For a long time the depth of my shame led me to feel I wasn’t entitled to see Caroline as anything other than the great provider keeping our family together.
I was a mess. I had lost a job, spiraled into depression, gained weight, lost self-esteem. It wasn’t pretty. Caroline was supportive in some ways. Just not in the ways I needed, as it turns out.
Now that I’m in a better place I’m realize it wasn’t all me. Our breakup is a failure we both share.
I strive to harbor no anger nor resentment. Our extended family is such an important part of my life. I refuse to let that change. And it hasn’t. In Caroline’s family’s eyes, I am still family.
In my new chapter, I find weekends difficult. Not sure why. Since I consult from my apartment, there is little difference between weekdays and weekends. Maybe it is the sight of strolling couples, or families reminding me of what I’ve lost.
Holidays are even more difficult. The life Caroline and I shared included a vacation home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Holidays spent there with friends and family.
This year, for Memorial Day, Caroline hosted our daughters, and her family while I bore witness, distantly, through Instagram and Snapchat. I was a mess that weekend.
For the last six or seven years, Caroline and I hosted assorted friends over the Fourth. Law school friends of Caroline, and their spouses, significant others, some stag. As usual, everyone was there.
For Labor Day, I have some plans. Good friends and family have been supportive. I saw Springsteen last night, and swordfish was on sale at the market today. I’m doing okay.
Holidays trigger happy recollections of family trips and events, memories that will never again be refreshed. That’s hard.
Through my work I strive to change my relationship with mourning, with loss.
Rather than self-medicating, I acknowledge my pain. By doing so I keep the emotion in a much healthy perspective. I accept pain is part of me, not something to be ignored or denied.
Another part of my journey is writing, which is a wonderfully cathartic process. I always wrote, but not until midlife have I come to appreciate how much better I feel doing so.
I hope some of you are feeling connected to my story. I’d love to hear what brings you joy on your journeys.
In the meanwhile,
Stay in touch. Share, comment, connect!
PS: The flag image came from a 1908 book on handicrafts. Both flags have 38 stars, and yet, there were 46 states in 1908. Go figure.