You asked me if I was different “back then” and I pretended not to understand what you were asking. You said, “back then, when you were with him…” and you meant back when I was married, when I was his wife, when I was part of him.
Your insecurities are so much more transparent than you know.
After sputtering around the issue with you a little I said, “of course I was! You are a different person so I am different with you – the same way that you were different with her than you are with me…it’s just natural!” and you were satisfied, it made sense, it soothed you.
But there is more to it than that and the bold and blunt answer is yes. Yes, I was different back then.
I was kind back then. Not “kind-er” or more kind, but just plain kind. I’m not kind these days. I was kind and gentle, patient, and loving. You say I am un-affectionate, distant, not warm; but I used to be all of those good things. Back then. People wanted to be me, to have my life, my relationship with him, my joy and my sweetness. I used to be happy, confident, peaceful, spontaneous, generous. I used to be loveable. Now? Now you tell me you love me, but really you just love my body. There is nothing loveable about me and I know it.
I used to be compassionate, a good listener, empathetic. I looked hard at MY actions and took responsibility for them. I sent birthday cards to friends, called my dad, wrote to my aunt. I fostered babies, taught new mommas to care for their new babies, gave my time to my church with Drama, nursery, cleaning crew, hosting and leading a small group. At my house I planted flowers, took pictures of them, gave rides to people, baked for neighbors/teachers/mailman/and the trashman. I wrote out Christmas cards and Roshashana cards, sat thru Seder meals with his family and hosted Thanskgiving meals for 10 or more people each year. I was good. I was honorable. I was respectable. I was kind and giving and smart and interesting and I cared – all the time. But that was back then. When he was different and life was different. This is now.
I used to be deeply spiritual. My belief in God isn’t different now, not in my core belief about salvation, about who I believe Jesus to be, about what I believe will happen to my soul when I die, but I no longer trust, love, or turn to God. I no longer seek him, daily, just for the joy of praising him or loving him or thanking him. There is no peace or joy or safety in God for me. I find no strength in him. That makes me very different.
I am bitter and angry with God. I am fierce in my rage at Him. When my voice is scratchy and hoarse sometimes, when you ask if I am sick or have a sore throat, it is because I have been shrieking curses at God, at the top of my lungs from the bottom of my soul and have worn my voice out. Back then, I never even raised my voice to anyone. I say the most foul thing I can thing of to say to God. I may go to hell for it, but this life feels like the worst hell anyway so I scream at God and say, “F*ck You God!” Back then I never never never said that word.
I have tried so hard to NOT be a bitter disillusioned bitch. I made it my goal to NOT be a divorce with a chip on my shoulder. I was going to be forgiving, accepting, brave, peaceful and grounded, strong, even and fair, stable. I wanted to keep being ME. Guess that didn’t quite work out.
I am a bitter disillusioned bitch. I’m divorced with a HUGE chip on my shoulder. I’m exhausted and angry and always wanting. I’m not forgiving, I am resentful. I am weak, selfish, and self absorbed. I’m jealous and hateful and spiteful. I wear the thinnest facade when the kids are around but I think they see thru it anyway. I’m scared all the time.
I am different than I was “back then”. I’m sorry that you didn’t know me then, that you have only this ‘me’ to try and love. I’m not stupidly shouldering all the crap though – I know I got the leftover damaged parts of YOU as much as you got this damaged version of me so the balance is relatively equal but at least I am owning up to the fact that I am miserable and hard to love, hard to like, and soooo hard to live with. I know it.
I haven’t given up on finding my way to a better me, a me that will never be who I was but will surely be a version of that good, kind, tender soul. However, I see the journey there as full of chin-deep shit holes, impossible cliffs, starvation and scurvy, and moments of terror and bleakness too vast to describe. So, I release you. I release you at any time from any obligation to stay.
In the middle of the night I turn into the warmth of you and am grateful. I see you with the kids and feel a wave of tenderness, love, desire – but those two small things barely dent the armour of my bitterness that you see face to face all the other long lonely moments.
I hope you’ll stay, but if you leave, I could never blame you.
If I ever ask you to leave, demand that you leave, I hope you’ll try to remember that this awful person I am isn’t who I always was and that you’ll find grace and forgiveness for me. I have loved you, I DO love you – but I so very much hate myself that there is little room for that love to be present.