There is unspeakable cruelty in the actions of narcissists who betray and bail without warning. It’s tough to expect others who think they have an idea of what you’re going through to really get just how laid bare your entire life is when you encounter one of these rare gems.
But this post isn’t really about those black holes, sucking the decency out of the planet with their need for accolades and ‘self-fulfillment’ at everyone else’s expense. It’s about the destruction they leave behind in the soft and sacred places of a woman’s heart.
People see you, and they think ‘divorce’. They may feel they have an understanding of what that means because everyone knows someone who’s gone through it. But divorce typically means a protracted period of unhappiness between one or both people, with counseling and talks and fights and awkward silences, and painful decisions that suck.
So, now take that period of time your mind has had to come to grips with this over the course of weeks or months or years, and cram it into minutes. And then, the person you love and respect is simply gone. Have nothing you think or feel or say be considered. At all. It’s all been decided, just not by you. There’s a girlfriend waiting. Hell, encouraging this. Be treated with zero emotion from the person who claimed just hours before that they loved you and had your back. And then, once they walk out and snap your psyche in half, have them ignore you like you’re a nuisance, or act like a robot when they do reply. Then add a 1 and 2 year old looking to you for their every need when you don’t even know what day it is, or how the hell you’re going to make it through the next hour.
Happy one minute, leaving you and life will never be the same the next. It’s not so much a divorce as it is the firebombing of your soul.
It’s a mind-eff the likes of which I can imagine many never recover from. Turns out, there’s a term for this. It’s called Wife Abandonment Syndrome (WAS). I’m reading a book about this, and point for point, it’s dead-on. (Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark)
I’ve been reading and searching and trying to figure out why it is that my brain doesn’t function the same way anymore. I have all these triggers now. I can be doing fine, and then I’ll hear a song or catch sight of some object from our life together, or look at HomeWrecker’s FB page…and I’ll be spiraling. I call it that because it’s as if my logic and decision making skills, which used to be sharp and clear, are now and stormy and muddled with every emotion under the sun.
It’s as though my nervous system got fried. Kind of like a laptop on the receiving end of a full cup of coffee, but that’s still functioning somehow. Sure, the power comes on, and you can maybe do some basic things, but it does the oddest things now for no apparent reason. That’s me since the night of 1,000 horrors. I live in a fog. The logic center of my mind is tainted with high-tension emotional shockwaves that anger and confuse me, because they don’t belong there.
I don’t want to be like this. I want my sharp mind back. I want to snap out of the floaty place. But I can’t seem to find my way back. And all I know is, I can’t stay here.
But what I really wanted to address, even more than the devastation that this particular kind of unforeseen abandonment brings, is this:
Is it normal to be more heartbroken than angry?
I’ve read so many posts, so many blogs and all the comments and forums, and the theme I’m noticing is that there’s a hardness there. There’s a toughness from the writers. This is not to say there’s something wrong with these women. It’s as if they’ve had to cut the part about being vulnerable out, because life has kicked it out of them without their say. They don’t speak of sadness or tenderness nearly as often as they post things like ‘Ha ha! My cheater got the clap from his secretary!’ It’s rare to see someone say ‘I miss my best friend. He and I used to laugh and talk for hours in bed. I still can’t believe this is happening.’
Oh, don’t get me wrong. If put in a ring with Honey, I could probably break every bone in his body with my bare hands, and when the bell dings, I might sit ringside while he cries and calmly eat a taco. I’m to that point now.
But I don’t want that to be my new ‘normal’. I don’t want the (appropriate) rage I feel towards him make me lose sight of who I am as a human being. I don’t want to watch the tenderness that makes me a woman turn to acid and hatefulness. I can see…oh believe me I can see how easily that could happen. I don’t want to have to toughen up and go dead to things to survive. Life is hard, better get with the program or die. Is that the gist? Does anyone feel me when I say that I unequivocally DO NOT want that?
It’s overshadowed anyway by this crushing planet of love and tenderness and gentleness that was once his but now has nowhere to go. And the ache from that outweighs any other singular emotional response I possess about his betrayal, of which there are many. But I’m a single mom, a title I never thought would apply to me, and one that strikes fear deep into my heart on any given day. So for that reason alone, I better toughen up, because sh** just got real.
How can the man I loved and the father of these amazing, smart and funny little ones bow out on his share of the work and be missing out on all of the rewards…on purpose? No clue. But there’s no time to reflect or feel sorry or lament. There’s teaching and cleaning and washing and sorting and cooking, and soon there’ll be soccer practice and dance lessons and homework and even as I write this, the notion that I will be alone throughout it all cripples me with sadness and a fair amount of terror. How can I march into the infinite abyss armed with a sword and shield made of cardboard?!
The universe is one big damn scary place. Alone with babies? Just the idea of how I’ll be able to handle it logistically confounds me.
But I will. Because I’m gonna put another brick in the wall. I’m gonna sack up. I’m gonna put my big girl pants on. I’m gonna step up to the plate. No one needs to know my knees will be shaking. And I may have to dial back the heart I’ve always worn on my sleeve, but I don’t need to lose who I am just because of Honey’s copious emotional disorders, lack of empathy, and well-hidden douchebaggedness.
And no matter what that man did, I’m going to show these kids that this world can be amazing. That it doesn’t have to repay cruelty with cruelty. That his actions are the exception rather than the rule. If I tell that to them often enough, maybe I’ll start to believe it. These kids and I? We’re going to look at the world with wide-eyed wonder and joy and laugh at ridiculous puppet shows starring a pig who hates himself because he loves bacon (yes, I really do this). These kids and I? We’re going to sit and examine leaves and make forts and it’s his loss. IT’S HIS LOSS. His abject failure will be but a cautionary tale, one I’d love to recount someday with indifference. As Chump Lady puts it, I will have achieved ‘Meh’.
These kids and I? We’re going to laugh, and fly kites, and learn amazing things. We’re going to go on countless adventures. We’re going to lie on a blanket on the grass and look at the stars every night of the summer. They’re going to see the goodness and mystery and craziness of it all. I will see to it. These kids and I? We’re going to have fun exploring the infinite abyss. And they’ll never know my knees are shaking and that my sword and shield are made of cardboard.
I’m still going back and forth but the anger is starting to kick in. My counselor said she normally tells her clients to let it go and they try to work through it… but for me to embrace it, just for now. She said I need it to She said it’s hard to let go and it will help propel me into the unknown. I think what had me going back and forth for so long was that when Husband would visit with the kids here and there or we would have to talk on the phone. Old him would shine through. Then it wouldn’t take long for him to pull back after realizing the “slip” and new him would come raging through full force. The Jekyll and Hyde shit was a total mindfuck and would scramble my brain.
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Good for you! You seem to be in better spirits in this post. Keep reading Chump Lady and believe the things you read over there. So many stories that are so similar. Keep in mind, too, that there is nothing wrong with being angry. You were dealt a shitty hand. There is a difference between being angry about something that happened to you, and just being an angry person. There are also articles out there that point out forcing forgiveness is NOT good for us. The forgiveness industry just has better PR!
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Such an excellent writer. I have wondered about the softness, security of trust & sweetness of the past VS toughness, terror & anger needed to survive.
Is it possible to intigrate the best of the old self with necessity of current self & end up with super self in the future? IMO only with the help of God, kind people on the same journey saying “me too” & “I understand”, + a determined refusal to allow bitterness to take root & grow. That F word/thing is tricky, iss
isn’t it? As The Divorce Minister teaches – 1st Repentance, then Forgiveness.
Nobody ought to be forced or rushed. As Chump Lady points out “meh” is a beneficial goal. Especially when your cheater is not sorry or sorry enough.