When you walk down the aisle, you don’t think that you may one day separate from the person waiting for you at the altar. However, I’m a realist. No one in my immediate family hasn’t been divorced (save for my paternal grandparents, and my Grandfather died many years before I was born), so I never had a “love lasts forever” view of marriage. My husband however was the opposite. No one in his family had ever split up. His grandparents died just weeks apart after celebrating over 50 years of marriage.
Having said this, I did not approach my own marriage with a view of “I can check out if it gets too hard”. We both wanted it to be for the long haul, and for him, I don’t think he ever considered us splitting up. I was determined to make ours last and didn’t want to be another failed one. Alas, it did.
We were together for the best part of 11 years, and they were a wonderful 11 years. I’m not going to dwell on what went wrong and whether we did enough to fix our relationship, as that’s personal and my blog isn’t anonymous so it wouldn’t be fair to him. All that needs to be said is that it ended. It ended before we hated each other. We cared too much about each other for that.
Just over a year on, he’s in a solid relationship and I’m still single. At times I’ve found it harder than I ever imagined. When you’ve spent your entire adult life sharing every moment, thought, worry, joy and sorrow with one person and suddenly they’re not there, it’s hard to adjust. Also knowing he has someone else to do that with can be tough as he doesn’t need me anymore, even though I’m really pleased he’s found someone else (who by all accounts is lovely) and moved on. I want him to be happy, but every so often there’s a tiny part of me that can’t help but feel replaced. Perhaps as I’m single when I have moments of loneliness that creeps in. Silly really, as I know we did the right thing.
My mental health has hit rock bottom this year. It’s not because of the separation as such. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is often triggered by adolescent trauma. In my case, as I met my ex when I was 17, I think he became my security away from being extremely unhappy as a teenager, and as I’m now on my own previous issues have come to the surface. In many ways this is good as it’s allowing me to deal with some adolescent issues and I can address the way I behave going forward. I still find myself wanting to reach out to him when I’m in the depths of despair. I often think it’s muscle memory as I don’t know what I expect from him, I suppose the comfort he used to give me, but I know it’s not really what I need, and equally I know it’s no longer appropriate. I know he would be nothing but supportive, but the last thing I want is to overstep any mark.
Other positives to come from our separation for me have been learning that I have the confidence and ability to survive on my own. Both financially and mentally (for the most part) is really satisfying. I’ve become much more secure and confident in myself, not that he held me back in any intentional way, I think it was partly the dynamic of our relationship; but also the fact I’ve been dating and feel sexually liberated as we had slightly different tastes.
When we split, some people (middle aged adults mainly) expressed some disappointment in us. “You marry for life – deal with it” sort of attitude. So yes, whilst that was very much my ideal when I walked down the aisle to great my husband to be, we decided sadly our time together as husband and wife was over. We could both live happier lives separately than simply exist together, and why should either of us sacrifice our one time on this earth for that? We didn’t give up at the first hurdle, but didn’t want to wait until we had lost any love that lingered and could no longer stand the sight of each other. Our marriage was a happy one, but we ended it as friends.