I never hear Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” without thinking about the way my marriage ended. I have my own version, with one word changed:
“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack / I went out for a coke and I never went back / Like a river that don't know where it's flowing / I took a wrong turn and I just kept going”
I didn't want a divorce; I wanted my marriage to work no matter the cost. Or, so I thought at the time.
I invested years trying to keep the marriage humming along. In the end, I discovered that it takes two people who are willing to invest energy and effort. According to my former husband, “it just wasn't worth his energy or effort.”
I think I'd still be married if I hadn't one day sent him a loud and clear message that it was time for him to start participating in the relationship. It was time for me to start getting a return on my investment. As it turns out, I had been investing in “Castles in the Sky” as they say on Wall Street. There were to be no future increases in the price of a stock (my marriage) that was extremely overvalued.
He took in my message; it was received, processed and immediately rejected. He looked at me, picked up his car keys and said, "I'm going for a Coke." That was it. The end. He went out for a Coke and never came back. The man took a wrong turn and just kept going.
That is when I started the "what if" thinking and second-guessing of myself and the marriage. I wanted to do my marriage over again, yet do it better the next time around. I wanted the chance to do it differently. I wasted a lot of time looking back wishing I could change the past instead of looking at what might come next.
One day out of the blue, I realized I had to be honest with myself. I didn't have any control over whether or not my marriage was over, but I could do things differently regardless of whether there was a marriage or not. I had to start with what I had control over, like how I chose to live my life and take each day and make the most of it.
Here's how I survived my unwanted divorce; maybe these ideas can help you:
I learned to approach each day as a new day. I no longer wanted to spend a day angry over what had happened in the past or beating myself up for screwing up. If I was lucky, it would be a day in which progress in my healing would take place.
I learned to let go of my anger at my former husband. Hey, I had mistaken defective for exotic. It wasn't his fault that I hadn't paid more attention before attaching myself to him. He is who he is; my anger wasn't going to change that and it wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go, so the anger had to go.
I tried not to allow expectations to get in the way of my happiness. I might not always get what I want or think I should have. That doesn't mean there isn't something out there just as good, if not better than what I thought I wanted.
Rational thinking isn't so easily applied when you're dealing with the irrational. I didn't want to waste any more time trying to figure out, manage or predict what was going to happen. Let's face it, divorce is an irrational process and you need to keep your wits about you.
I realized that men are different. This is a big one. Men aren't like women and if you wait around for them to "get a clue," you're in for a long wait. This revelation, coupled with lowering my expectations, enabled me to develop a deeper appreciation for what some men have to offer. I've even found a few out there who made me glad my former husband went out for a coke and never came back.
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