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Monah Li Headshot

Divorce, One Year Later

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Looking back, I view my 15-year relationship/ marriage as an addiction. My boyfriend/ husband was my drug and I acted like a crack addict, pursuing him with a compulsion and urgency that is easily comparable to a woman who will do anything, absolutely anything to get crack or heroin.

I was so involved in his life that I almost lost mine. Actually, sadly, at this point, I had no life to lose, because I had none to speak of. I had no personality, no interest and nothing that meant anything to me, but him.

When somebody asked me how I was, I would answer by telling how he was, whatever exciting project he was working on, his health, his problems and his triumphs.

Of course, being such a boring and helpless doormat didn't help to make me more attractive to him. His contempt and pity for me grew bigger every day until I was a ball of shame, frantically trying to get his approval.

Then one day, while he was on his way to NY, I was working on his computer. Suddenly, the beep of an incoming mail got my attention. Without thinking much, I clicked on the mail and there it was.

Until then it had never occurred to me to snoop. I used his computer all the time when I was at his house. Yes, I know, one would wonder, why we were married, when I kept my own apartment? That was because he was not the father of my daughter and it seemed wrong to me to have my daughter live with a man who was not her dad, when she had a totally devoted dad who was in her life exactly as much as I was. I as supposed to move in once she turned 18, just a few moths away.

But back to the mail. It opened up like an evil poisonous flesh eating plant. It was from a women swooningly informing him that she had arrived at the hotel room and was waiting for him. I don't want to go into details, but let me just say that she was very ready and prepared for his visit.

I started to shake so hard that I almost dropped the computer. This had to be a joke. Maybe one of his many groupies? But then I followed the trail of emails and there it was, as clearly as the sky after a heavy rain: An affair that had been going on for years.

I left him.

I sank into a gaping hole that felt like death.

I wanted to die and I started to take actual and real actions and prepared. When I realized what I was about to do and how my daughter would be so wounded and hurt that her life would certainly turn to shit, I turned around and left the hotel I was about to check in to end my life.

I walked out of my husband's mansion all the way up on Mt. Washington, away from money, power, prestige and total humiliation.

I walked up those stairs, got into my car and drove down the winding roads I'd driven thousands of times before.

I did not die. I lived and the people that came into my life at just the right moment showed me that there could be something worth living without him.

Now, more than a year later, I'm at peace.

I look at how much I had loved this man with all of me, with all my heart, with a ferocity that made me love him even when he had stopped loving me and I know I can love. We had a real connection and a love that lived underneath our craziness, our fights, our constant break-ups, our doubts and fears of closeness. We shared the ugliness of our addictions and we both fought to save each other.

I still love him. I rarely miss him.

Because by losing him, I got myself back.

It was my friends who gathered around me and took my weeping calls at 2 AM and assured me that I was a person, a woman, an artist, a lovely and loved human being and a blossoming power to reckon with. They slowly convinced me that I had a right to exist, a reason to exist
and something worthwhile to contribute.

My friends became the cornerstones of my new life. They saved my life. And of course, my lovely daughter, who needed a mother that was alive and present when she went through her own, crushing depression.

Today, I am grateful. My brain is my own brain now. I used to think and judge the world with his brain, not mine.

It was a painful growing experience, but now, I got my own self.

I see now how I used him: Allowing him access to my mind was awful and ugly, but safe. Safe, in that I did not have to use my own intellect and critical thinking -- he laid it all out for me -- but that safety never felt right and kept me in shackles and caged. I was so immersed into his problems, his depressions and his career, that I did not have to look at my own depression, (lack of) career and my own fears. This bigger- than- life- man did all the worrying and raging for both of us -- no need for me to feel my own terrifying reality and mortality. I was hiding behind him and blamed him for all my failures and my own anger at the world for not providing me with what I had dreamed of.

Now, it is me I wake up to and most days, I love who I am. With all my flaws and talents, with all my very own demons, my own struggles and doubts. I'm part of humanity, walking in my own heels.