Sadness. It can be crippling. Anger is different. Your body can feed off the energy of anger as you try to keep yourself from being ripped apart by it at the same time. You busy yourself with activity trying to suppress the anger raging inside you, that monster that is just below the surface. Sadness, on the other hand, drains you. There is nothing to feed on, because there is just nothing there but emptiness and loss. That is where I am now, feeling that emptiness.
What makes it worse is when anxiety is mixed in with that emptiness. It makes you sick to your stomach and all your energy is drained from you. Lifting your arms is a challenge. Speaking hurts. Your heart feels like it is sinking into your stomach, but the anxiety is making your heart feel like it is being squeezed and trying to explode out of your chest all at the same time. Your head is just a clouded mess. Functioning? Not even going to happen. There is not enough “spoons” for that.
Grief is unique to each individual. There is no one way and no right way to go through grief. It has been just over a year since my divorce finalized. It has taken me this long to get to this point in my grieving. I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for 15 years, yet I didn’t realize it until fairly recently. That is the problem when you are subjected to emotional abuse that is insidious, silent, and passive aggressive. It creeps up on you slowly and wears you down. You don’t even know what is happening to you until it is too late. Recently I have learned that my ex-husband fits the “Peter Pan Syndrome” profile.
He is the type that, for the lack of a better term, goes after things that are shiny, and it doesn’t seem to even occur to him the pain he causes other people by doing so. He gets bored or lonely, and then sees a new shiny thing that catches his attention and goes after it not even contemplating the destruction he is leaving behind. To the kids, they feel abandoned by their father. To him, he only went after something shiny. In this particular case, the shiny things were new women, a new job, and the prospect of getting away from having to make choices and having to have responsibilities he didn’t want. The kids have not seen their father is over a year. They don’t trust him. My son wants nothing to do with his father. My daughter is scared of him. He became a stranger to her even before he moved out.
I believe that my ex-husband does feel guilty for what he did, but only to a point. There is this vagueness that I sense. He doesn’t seem to fully understand what he did and the level of pain he caused. During our marriage, he never wanted to talk anything out. He would never express his own needs. He always had to be the hero to anyone else, but when it came to his own family, he would stall out. He is also emotionally unavailable and has always had trouble being honest with himself and others. His freedom seemed to be more important to him then what he felt was the monotony of family life. I have mentioned in past blogs about the masks he would wear. These masks changed based on who he was with. Toward the end of our marriage, he seemed to forget who he was with and a stranger would emerge. He told me that he pretended to be someone else to get me to marry him. Why would someone do that to another?
He actually told me the other day that he hadn’t realized how much he missed talking to someone with what he referred to as “intelligence in science”. I had only called him, because the wildfires had gotten very close to where he and other family members live. I wanted to make sure everyone was alright. He told me he really enjoyed our conversation and wanted to have more of them. I felt his pull and I missed his voice, but I said it was not a good idea. I realized that he was using the same tactics and speech patterns he had used all those years ago to get my attention. I knew that I was just something shiny that he had forgotten about. I knew it wouldn’t take long until he would get bored again or saw something else shiny that would take his attentions away. I know I am still vulnerable even after all this time and I need to still protect myself.
The sadness hurts. I was just something shiny to acquire, something to play with. Then real life set in and I wasn’t worth his time or effort anymore. I represented something that impeded his freedom. I have come to understand that there is a pattern about myself. I seem to have a habit of attracting “Lost Boys”. I don’t have the full-on version of the “Wendy Dilemma”, but there is definitely a problem there. I struggle with codependency issues. I was conditioned to be codependent from childhood. The problem was that I didn’t even know what a codependent was until after my marriage failed. I was the overly emotional, loyal, trusting, and honest partner. I am not saying this is a good thing. I am developmentally delayed and my naïve tendencies have been taken advantage of on more than one occasion.
My ex-husband, on the other hand, lacked emotional reciprocity and the ability to be truthful. He preferred to lie by omission and speak with vagueness. He mistakenly felt he was somehow protecting us by lying. He also seemed to think he didn’t have to deal with anything if the issues were never out in the open. He could deny and pretend that everything was alright. Our relationship was really one sided and out of balance. We were a codependent couple and it wasn’t healthy.
I re-read a long letter my ex-husband had written to the kids a while back. It was his attempt to explain why he left. As I have stated before, I am developmentally delayed, but that does not mean that I am developmentally stopped. I started really growing as a person once I reached my mid-30s. I started learning about healthy boundaries and advocating for myself. I was essentially growing up.
What was really a life changing moment for me was when I was officially diagnosed with Autism, a diagnosis my ex-husband could never accept. Everything started making sense for me after my diagnosis. All the struggles and confusion I had had all my life up until then finally made sense. In that letter that my ex-husband wrote, he talks about how I was developing and it wasn’t working for him. Basically, I wasn’t playing my part in our codependent relationship anymore. I was setting boundaries; I was seeing each of us as individuals with individual needs and wants. I began developing friendships outside of my marriage with people who shared my passions. I had been isolated up until that point.
My ex-husband told me once that I was too passionate about things and it made him uncomfortable. He also didn’t like how I hyper focused on things nor did he like the time and energy I devoted to my job as a teacher. All of this was expressed in that letter he wrote to the kids, but it was done in a vague way. No specifics were included other than the fact I was developing and growing as a person and he felt so lonely as a result. He states he was losing his identity. I get the impression that instead of establishing himself as an individual, he needed me to maintain his identity. He was codependent on me defining him as a person and I had been codependent on him to make me feel safe in a world I didn’t understand. That is not healthy at all.
(Image found at Codependency)
“What makes interconnections healthy is interdependency, not codependency. Paradoxically, interdependency requires two people capable of autonomy (the ability to function independently). When couples love each other, it’s normal to feel attached, to desire closeness, to be concerned for each another, and to depend upon each other. Their lives are intertwined, and they’re affected by and need each other. However, they share power equally and take responsibility for their own feelings, actions, and contributions to the relationship. Because they have self-esteem, they can manage their thoughts and feelings on their own and don’t have to control someone else to feel okay. They can allow for each other’s differences and honor each another’s separateness. Thus, they’re not afraid to be honest. They can listen to their partner’s feelings and needs without feeling guilty or becoming defensive. Since their self-esteem doesn’t depend upon their partner, they don’t fear intimacy, and independence doesn’t threaten the relationship. In fact, the relationship gives them each more freedom. There’s mutual respect and support for each other’s personal goals, but both are committed to the relationship.”
Source – Codependency vs. Interdependency
Where do I go from here? There is no going back; the past can’t be changed, so I just have to keep moving forward. Grieving – denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and then finally acceptance. I am not there yet, that point where I have found acceptance, but I am moving toward it and getting closer every day. For me, it is all about resilience. I have to keep going, but as for today, the sadness is winning. I will try again tomorrow.
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