I guess in a lot of ways, sharing my experiences require me to air out some dirty laundry. I have been candid (I think) and try to avoid judgement (I think this shows). However, how do you really see what my situation is like without looking at more than the current moving parts? I think it is appropriate, to put things in perspective and hop in a time machine.
This is not a blame game. This is not a way for me to ask you to cast judgement as you look at my experiences. I consider myself an empath, I have a good handle on objectively viewing things and seeing who people truly could be at their best, not just punishing them for their worst.
I fell in love when I was 18 years old. I was mad for this guy. He was handsome and funny and he loved me right back. I had just graduated high school and he was still finishing up, as he was two years my junior. He'd had a hard childhood. I say hard because I know that it was hard for him not in an relational way to anyone else. He struggled with his parents divorce, with not seeing his father, with loving and accepting his stepfather in ways his sister never did, with inadequacy issues stemming from a family who had anxiety disorders. I thought that coming from a family that was well intact (of my parents siblings-- 5 brothers and 2 sisters-- only one had ever been divorced and all have loving families who welcomed another member with open arms) and kind we could right the wrongs of his past. In a lot of ways, we did. In a lot of ways his problems were bigger than that.
He had these telltale signs of sociopathy or a narcissitic personality disorder that I ignored for a long time: manipulation, lack of remorse, constant envy, arrogance, anger, recklessness, emotional detachment, exploitative entitlement. I ignored these because I was in the revolving door of a psychologically and emotionally abusive relationship from the start and had no idea. To this day, I can't break my own small cycle of depression and anxiety that is onset when I feel very overwhelmed.
There were occasional bouts of physical abuse. I don't like to focus on this. I spent a great deal of time during my divorce telling people what they needed to hear when it came to manifesting an image for them of my relationship. I don't think any bruise on my body would ever have been as bad as the emotional scars and no one really understands that. It's like a twisted version of E.E. Cummings "I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)" but for me it is "I carry your pain with me (I carry it in my heart)". I don't have another effective way to articulate that but I lived in that place for 13 years and sometimes I can't help but end up back there. Simultaneously, however, I was very happy! I was in love! I was young and thought this was what the "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" meant. I loved my life. We had a dog who died when he was 8 and to this day he is the best friend I have ever had in my entire life and the time I had them my heart was so filled up.
I carried guilt with me for not fixing my ex and not saving my dog for a long time. I actually had to really think hard about that sentence to decide if I wanted to say "carried" or "carry". I know that this is not particularly healthy but it is also something that I know I do and have worked hard to get over. I have done this same thing to my stepchildren. Somewhere deep down I decided that it had to be me that fixed everything that their birth mother broke in their lives and as an extension of that I even felt like if I tried hard enough I could fix her.
I left that relationship with pity and I find myself in that same place of pity with my kid's birth mom. He was not as good of a person as people believed. He had been grouped with my kindnesses. He had found ways to be poetic but I saw through them now. I remember telling him over and over "when you are feeling low if you keep telling me you are incapable of love, if you keep telling me you want the world to burn, one day I will believe it because every single time you say those things I start to believe them a teeny tiny bit more". He continued and I did too. I believed it all and in this one instant that I don't think I want to share the specifics of I realized that our marriage was over.
When I woke up from my old life that is exactly what happened, I woke up. Everything inside me that stopped growing because I was so busy giving away all of my sunshine suddenly began to sprout and then blossom. I was suddenly the person that I had always known was there. I resented my ex for not being willing to let me shine, to help me shine, to have shined himself because of all the glorious rays of light I had given away to him. How precious is our own sunshine? How often are people willing to work so hard so that you shine? And how dare he have rejected it for his own feelings of insecurity.
I think in a lot of ways, my situation can be likened to my fiance's past. His ex-wife had traumas in her own childhood that made her feel less than. Though it is not my place to share her life story, I can leave it at that. They also met as teenagers and she was also two years his junior. She has the same narcissistic tendencies, same anxiety, same entitlement, same anger, envy, and arrogance. They were dating for a matter of months before she got pregnant. They had a shotgun wedding. They moved out of their parents homes for the first time, had the excitement of a new family, and before they knew it they had two babies!
My fiance is a wonderful Dad. He was born for that role. But she stole his sunshine. Their life together was filled with staged pictures, arguments with no rules of engagement, and her blaming him for all the problems of her past. When her father died and she became a different person, as I think we always do when we lose someone we love, it was the beginning of the end. Having been together barely over 5 years they had 3 kids and she was only 22 years old. Do you remember what it was like to be 22? I graduated college and spent all my graduation money on a trip to Disney World. I was a baby! I was Jon Snow in a pack of wildlings. I knew nothing of this world.
She had multiple affairs. When my fiance found out about the first one and they had some semblance of a conversation/argument they eventually decided to try and stay together. She wanted an open marriage, he wanted a real one but already knew it wouldn't work out with her. Finally after a decade together they called it quits for real. Except for their eldest child together, the kids do not even have memories of their parents married. A few pictures exist but thats all they have seen. And even with the oldest it is fleeting. They remember things they did with Dad when Mom & Dad were still together but few memories exist in their children's lives of happy times with the whole lot of them.
In a lot of ways when my fiance left this relationship he was like I was in my own marriage. Only I remembered what it felt like to feel warm sunshine on my face and he had been giving his away to his family for so long I think he got sunburned a few times. In both these scenarios you can hope the exes would rise up, rise above their pasts, move on and move forward with experience behind them, forgiveness in their hearts, and an open mind about what life can be like if you get some real help and really try to change.
I think it is a testament to my own faith in people and the empath in me that I still hope that for both of them. I cannot stress enough the need to not lose faith and hope in the human race in these situations. Hurt people hurt people. And we forget that when someone has hurt us. The exes in my life have given me no reason to believe that they are trying to be better people. Neither of them have shown me much by way of a glimmer of hope but I can see it there if I look hard enough past the asshole who responds to my emails or the bitch who talks shit about me to our kids. My ex-husband still tries to peacock when he has reason to speak to me, still tries to act like I am overly sympathetic of someone who does not need sympathy, but deep down he is broken still and I hope working on it. My fiance's ex-wife still lashes out and acts like a teenager, and although after two years I have given up on asking her to sit down and have talks with me and stopped giving her the satisfaction of arguing back, I did send some cookies back to her house with the kids and she did text us to say "thanks".