Ending a relationship is the most insanely complicated experience I can ever imagine. I work in a law office and there are an abundance of rules and regulations and codes and laws to weave through and yet it is still less complicated than finding your way through the end of a long-term relationship. Seriously. This is a bullshit.
First things first. Janie and I are doing really well, all things considered. We’re broken and sad and lost but managing to find our way through to something good. We’re getting along. We’re talking. We’re managing to spend time together and make one another laugh. We have to live together until we sell our condo so we were forced to find a way to get past the bullshit of a break up and develop a strong friendship. It probably happened faster than most other people would have let it happen, but we didn’t have a choice because the only other option was to have World War III in our house every day and neither of us could have handled that. We have worked really hard to talk and share our feelings and thoughts and to listen to one another; to attempt to understand what the other is dealing with. It’s been hard, sometimes Janie has wanted to punch me in the face, but we’ve managed to settle into a comfortable place I like to call:
The only thing that’s different is that we sleep in separate rooms and everyone keeps their clothes on and we don’t touch, ever.
Things are so good with us, in fact, that I’ve got person after person asking me if we’re getting back together. It seems logical…we manage to have fun, joke around, we love one another, we enjoy one each other’s company, we talk, we share stories, we live together, we still have a lot of the good things that made our relationship beautiful and strong. We have each changed for the better and we continue to do so. We developed new understandings of ourselves, our relationship, one another and what we want and need and what it is that caused us to falter and break. But this does not make coming back together a good idea. In fact, it is exactly why getting back together is a bad idea. We’ve managed to get rid of all the crap that tore us apart, by being apart, and to get back together would likely bring much of that right back. The truth is that we broke up for some very, very good reasons. We let go of such a beautiful and massive and special thing, of an entire life, because it wasn’t possible to make it work. It ended for very good reasons and it stays over for those same reasons. We both know that if we tried again, as good as it may be for a few weeks or months or maybe even a year or two, things would slip away, we would still be who we are despite the changes we have made and continue to make, and we’d be right back in this place, only more broken, more hurt and likely never able to stand being around one another because it would be too much to go through all over again. We stay apart because it is the very thing that will keep the remainder of our relationship special and beautiful and it will keep the massive amount of love we have for one another intact, though change it from a partnership to a friendship that I know will last for the rest of our lives.
Throughout the last eight years, Janie and I have said that if our relationship ended and we broke up, that was it. There would be no break up and get back together, break up and get back together. We had seen what it looks like, we had seen the hurt and anger it can cause and we both knew ourselves and one another well enough to see that it wasn’t something we were ever going to let happen. Neither of us have ever believed that it should take ending our relationship to make it better, that breaking up should be the one thing that jolts either of us awake enough to change what would need to change so we could then get back together and try again. It was never going to work that way and I do feel a certain amount of pride to see that we knew from the start that if and when this day should ever come, we’d only do it with the very firm belief that it was the best thing and that it was forever. We knew that the only way things would end is if they were irretrievably broken and though to say that and to be it has been inexplicably hard, to know we’d never make such a decision without being certain is a comfort. We know we’d never mess around enough with one another’s emotions to make our relationship a yo-yo, of a falling apart and coming back together; that we’d have enough respect for one another and ourselves and what we spent so long building that we’d never let go unless it was something we believed we’d never be able to save. I am not saying this is how it should always work. Absolutely not. I know people save their relationships every day by falling apart and then managing to pick up the pieces, get back together and make it work. I just know that we were never that kind of couple, and we knew from the start that should this day come, we could rest assured that it was the only decision we could make and not have to spend months and years debating whether or not we should have stayed together. There is a certain sense of security in knowing we would never be here unless it was absolutely right and that neither of us would make a decision to end things unless we were certain it was the only possible decision we could have made.
This is also not to say that we haven’t discussed the possibilities. We have seen many couples get back together and asked: if they can do it why can’t we? But those questions never linger more than a few moments and we remember everything we’d always said and everything we’ve been through to now and realize that we’re in such a better place in so many ways and this is how it was meant to be. Hard and devastating as it may be, and will continue to be, it is the best decision we could have made for ourselves and one another.
Along with the knowledge that ending our marriage is the best thing comes a lot of very difficult and painful emotional work. There is not one day where I have not felt devastated by the idea that my entire life has crumbled to the ground and I have been left feeling completely alone. This is the loneliest I have ever felt in my life, the saddest I have ever been, the most afraid and uncertain. I am crippled by the vast array of emotions that I could never have anticipated. Janie and I spoke last week about how it is absolutely impossible to come into this situation knowing how hard it will be, how many moments of despair and misery you will face. They will come and go and come and go and when you think you’re finally getting to a good space, you’ll fall apart. And then you’ll fall apart some more. Most days I have a complete and total inability to focus and concentrate on anything for more than five minutes. I am unable to sleep for more than a few hours at a time (but better than the 45 minute increments of last month!). I cry all the time and anywhere. The bank, work, at home, at the grocery store, restaurants, coffee shops, therapy, friend’s houses, the car, etc. I had, for a long while, stopped telling people anything about how I was doing because very often I have no idea. So I said “I’m fine” and then I shut myself away and I fell apart and felt like I wanted to die. People would tell me it gets better. Things will be okay. It was nice to hear. Sometimes it was all I wanted to hear, but it was also impossible to see. Every day is often the same: sad, depressing, lonely, awful, scary and fucked up. My sister called me last week and asked how I was doing. “I just want to die.” “It’ll get better,” she said. “Every day is the same. Every day I want to just disappear, ” I said back. It’s complicated. I just want to curl up so tightly that I cease to exist, that the world stops, that everything stops happening so I can make sense of something. I want one thing to happen at a time but instead a billion things happen all at once and it is so overwhelming that it renders me incapable of moving. I have no idea how I have made it here, two months later. I have no idea of anything other than the realization that sometime very soon we’ll sell our place and move away from one another and I’m going to lose my shit again and it will be just as hard as it was before and, maybe, worse because I certainly don’t feel like I can handle having to fall apart even one more time. But it will happen and I’ll just have to trust that I’ll find a way to pick up the pieces.