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Under Pressure

“What did I do so wrong in my life that I don’t deserve a happy ending?”

“Why am I being punished?”

These were the two questions that I asked myself over and over after finding out that my soon-to-be-ex-husband wanted a divorce back in June. I put so much blame on myself for things not going the way we’d planned. I mean, he fell out of love with me…that’s my fault, right? It constantly swirled in my head about how I could have changed or what I could have done differently to cause this outcome.

I’d moved almost to the other side of the country for him to finish school because I supported his dreams.

I was holding down a full-time job, leaving the house at 7 AM and not getting home until 7 PM. And sometimes I worked 6 days a week.

I rarely asked for anything and was as self-sufficient as possible.

How does any of this make me a bad wife, or unlovable, or not worthy of a good relationship? The answer: it doesn’t. At the time, I was putting his wants and needs above my own. Although it doesn’t totally absolve me from being disorganized and lazy, I was allowed to be tired and stressed out from taking on additional responsibilities outside of the house. And if I needed it, I should have been comfortable asking for help, but I felt needy when I did. I may not have felt it on the surface-level during my marriage, but when we were at the end, I realized I felt unworthy. The situation I was in definitely made me feel that way. How he talked to me (or even didn’t talk to me) definitely made me feel that way. And how I treated myself definitely made me feel that way.

It was so hard not to blame myself, and I was letting these thoughts consume me to the point that I wasn’t eating or sleeping. Recently though, I saw a Facebook reel of Caylee Cresta that helped me see things differently. I’ll share the link below, but this is the transcript:

“If you’ve ever complained that your wife’s not being fun anymore, then I want you to listen to this. You wife did not choose to stop being fun, but you did stop looking at her as someone to have fun with. Chances are she misses those moments just as much as you do. But you’re no longer the person she had those moments with. You’re comparing her to a version of herself that had a lot less responsibility and a lot more affection from you. You act like a child but get mad when she treats you like one. And you don’t do anything without asking her what needs to be done. So she’s too tired to be who she used to be. You want her to be this fun and exciting person, but you never give her the chance to be one. You wife is not unhappy to spite you; she’s unhappy because she’s struggling. And you’re using that unhappiness as an excuse for you to check out. But maybe your wife is still fun, and you just don’t talk to her enough to find out. Maybe she’s funny and you just don’t listen to her long enough to hear the joke. Maybe you kept acting like you didn’t care about a word she had to say until she eventually shut down and stopped talking. Maybe she stayed the same and you just stopped noticing. Or maybe she is different, and you just don’t care to know why. You can’t treat someone differently and expect them to stay the same. And if you don’t act like the husband you promised to be, then you really can’t complain when you don’t have the marriage you expected to have.”

I. Felt. This. It made me realize that maybe what I’d mistaken for him being stressed from school was him excusing himself, using it as his excuse to quietly detach from our relationship. And maybe I did need more support, but he was only half-there for me and I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. Although the transcript puts the blame on the husband, I began to see this isn’t all on me. This is on both of us.

I could easily badmouth my ex though for all of the ways he failed me because, let’s be honest, he did; I’m just better than that. But what I do realize now is that I wasted my time on a something that essentially deprived me of things that were/are important to me: a fulfilling relationship and a family of my own. And I regret being so blind.

My so-blindly-in-love glasses really made me ignore the faults, all of which could have been addressed and worked on together. But it turns out only one of us wanted to even try (that would be me), albeit apparently we were already at the point of no return (the day he told me he wanted a divorce). And now I see that I deserve more than what my ex was giving me.

I've been looking back with my eyes wide open because I’ve been seeing someone for the last month-ish. He's been in my position before, so it’s really nice to have someone understand where I’m at and what I’m going through. (He has been such an ally to me during this process; I’m really grateful for him.) There’s something that just feels right about our relationship, like there are voids – some that I wasn’t even aware of – that are filled. And being with him has showed me the unhealthy things in my marriage too.

Although initially I didn’t think I’d ever get to this point (and certainly didn’t expect to fall into a relationship the way I did), I’m being as optimistic and open as possible to what’s next for me. And I’m looking forward to moving on from all of this.

xo, UB.

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