After a long period of seemingly neverending conflict, I separated from my husband (I'll call him A) at the beginning of the summer. We had been together for 7 1/2 years, married for 2. It was like I had snapped - I woke up one day and said "I'm fucking done. I can't take this shit anymore." I thought it would be easy, but it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. We had never broken up before, never spent more than a week apart from each other, never gone a day without at least talking on the phone. But there I was, moving out and living on my own for the first time in my adult life.
I started a new relationship that was unfortunately entirely defined in opposition to my marriage. But a few months after moving out, I started to realize that without A in my life, a huge hole was left in my heart that nothing and no one else could fill. My anger dissipated and all the red I had been seeing faded away and allowed me to see things clearly. I started to experience hope that the patterns of conflict I could now see could be resolved.
I approached A with the idea of going to counseling to find out if our marriage could be saved or if the damage we had done was irreparable. At first he was resistant, but in the following days we had several very deep, very honest conversations that were respectful and productive. We decided to give counseling a try and he broke up with the girl he had been seeing. Many more conversations followed and we very rapidly fell back in love. Other people ended up very hurt and upset by this, but for the first time in my life I am beyond putting their feelings and expectations behind my own.
I went through a profound period of self-discovery during my separation and in the weeks leading up to A and I getting back together. I returned to the person that my best friend has termed "Soft JLK." This is the vulnerable me. He describes it as the me who curls up on my couch in a hoodie and sweats, smoking butts and drinking coffee while having a quiet conversation with someone I trust as opposed to the me who gets dolled up for parties and talks to many while truly connecting with none. It is very difficult to maintain this side of me, because the person who cares often winds up hurt. I am traditionally a person who walls people off and convinces herself that she does not care so that I don't have to deal with hurt feelings.
I am still the old me sometimes, because I am not ready to just let go. My in-laws all but hate me right now and these are people that I loved as much as my own parents. It cuts very deeply, so I have to shut them out at least for now. The decision I made to leave destroyed a lot of the trust and faith that people had in me, but I need to concentrate on rebuilding A's faith and trust. I can't worry about the others just yet.
A friendship that was very dear to me has apparently dissolved into something bordering on animosity, though I can't explain why because she doesn't really want to talk to me. All I've been able to find out is that she thinks I never tried hard enough, never let her in, never really cared. I'm trying to rebuild that too, patiently waiting for her to give me an opportunity. I can't let this one go.
I've had arguments with my family that were discussed in an earlier post, I've been through nightmarish stress because of a professor who nearly dropped the ball on me, I've been screamed at by someone I broke up with in a manner that no one has ever spoken to me before and managed not to kill him, and myriad other frustrations of varying sizes throughout 2008.
But I've also grown up in ways I never thought possible, discovered that I had truly found my other half and learned to appreciate that, tested myself to the absolute limits of my ability to handle stress, finished the degree that even a year ago I couldn't imagine actually being done with, finally graduated and signed my name on applications to universities I could never have dreamed of applying to when I was in high school. I've learned what it means to take pride in my accomplishments without needing the validation of others.
It's been a very long and difficult year. But it was also the most important year of my life thus far. I am looking forward to 2009 and the further changes it will bring.