You Never Thought It Would Be Like THIS

It isn’t unnatural to never think divorce will happen to you.  Even though my ex and I had a longstanding joke of endless scenarios of what would happen in the event of our breakup, I never seriously believed it would end.  And after years of dedication and service to a relationship that was notoriously on and off again, an ultimate end-all breakup seemed so unlikely.  But even if you don’t entertain the notion of divorce, most of us at least have painted some picture in our minds of what it would be like.  Here are things that I’m learning about divorce that I never heard about or witnessed until living it.

Emotional Stability – GONE.  I’ve always been an emotional person, and I’ve learned different ways to cope with disappointment or tragedy, however, none of these coping mechanisms can prepare you for the merciless roller coaster of depression.  Some days, I am so empowered and I feel like I am finally on the right track, ready to start fresh, and meet new people, and the next day, cannot pull myself out of bed.  The extremes of this cycle are unlike anything I’ve experienced, even as a recovering alcoholic.  

Mutual Friends? Gone.  I have done quite a bit of reading on this, post-separation, and this was the most painful reality that I had to face during this entire ordeal.  I always knew my ex was a jerk, so when the isolation and abuse started, things eventually clicked.  I knew the types of people who become abusers, and although I couldn’t recognize it until it was too late for our marriage, it was a truth I couldn’t deny.  However, when you have friends, girlfriends who are wives themselves, who have weathered in their relationships with the help and support of their friends, including and mainly me, because I’m always there for my friends.  I have even solicited help from my ex when our friends marriages were in trouble.  Did any single one of these people return the favor or even attempt to support what is right or finding good solutions to what isn’t?  Did any single one of these people provide me with the love or support that my heart is aching for?  Sadly, no.  I remember a specific instance where I met some of these ladies at an event, the first time we had all been together like that since my marital status had changed.  We were all sitting around, talking, mostly baby talk (which I cannot relate to, nor do I want to at this point) and the next song played stirred up a rush of emotions, so I excused myself and left the table, to go to the restroom to compose myself.  As I returned, no one even bothered to ask what was going on, and I left the event feeling abandoned and like a mess.  I learned not to look to others when I’m at my weakest, because the weak ones will just want to push you away, they don’t want a reminder of what could go wrong in a marriage very much like their own.  This hit me extremely hard, but I did learn to appreciate those friends who did understand the concept of loyalty and were there for me in capacities I didn’t even know I needed.

Another loss I experienced mostly at night.  Peaceful Sleep also became a distant memory.  Although I separated from my abuser, and was in a physically safe place with my family that I trust unconditionally, I’ve written about my nightmares in other entries, so there’s no need to get into great detail, but consciously thinking about something besides the divorce and the abuse has helped to avoid nightmares on most nights.  This is still a work in progress.

Most importantly, I like to remind myself of the things I didn’t lose.  Volunteering my time with women who have also been abused has made me humbled and thankful for so many things, including the fact that I did not allow myself to stay in a situation where I was being abused.  I can admit, and I do so without shame, that I did marry the wrong kind of man.  I did put up with insults, disrespect, isolation and manipulation longer than I should have.  I admit that I did not listen to my friends and my family when they warned me against the potential disaster of choosing this type of man.  I admit that without shame, because I have forgiven myself.  I only had good intentions, and maybe he did too, I don’t know, nor do I care to find out.  Maybe someday I can forgive him, but that day isn’t today or anytime soon.  


Never give all …

Never give all the heart

W. B. Yeats

Never give all the heart, for love

Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

One of my first entries described the events of the first red-flag I witnessed in my marriage, the destruction of the legal marriage document by my husband before it was ever mailed.  He eradicated any legitimacy our union might have in the eyes of the legal system, however, we were still married in the tradition of the Islam, we had our nikkah performed in the masjid, by the shiekh.  

Today, I’m meeting with him.  He’s already spoken to the other party, so I’m not sure what will be said or what’s already been done.  I have so much anxiety and fear, but also sadness.  I think I know in my heart that it’s really over and I’m scared to move on into the unknown.  I’ve felt a variety of emotions, including relief and excitement, but all there is today is fear and sadness.  I’m ashamed to say I feel this way, I’m being weak and easily influenced by nightmares.  My support system has taken a hit as well, which is making this even harder.  

I’d pray for myself, but I’m starting to think that’s useless too.

So, it’s been a while! I’ve been super busy with work and some family stuff, so I guess those are both good reasons to not be spending so much time online.  I’ve also been going to counseling on a weekly basis, which is helping me more than I ever imagined.  I haven’t experienced morning nausea in a week (fingers crossed) and I feel like I’m finally okay with what has happened to me, on most days.  I definitely still have off days and low moments, but I’ve been staying positive & sober and that’s what counts.

down, down, down it goes

I’ve always been an optimist, I’m that person who would say, “It can only get better; it can’t get much worse than this!”  

That’s bullshit. It can always get worse.  I’ve never been homeless, I’ve never had to sell my body for basic human necessities, or had to rely on the kindness of strangers so I wouldn’t go hungry.  That’s worse.  That’s the bottom.  All the shit that I’ve been through, whether it was getting arrested, being bullied, beaten, disrespected, robbed, belittled, betrayed, seems so inconsequential to more “real problems” so yes, it can get worse, and it has. 

I feel powerless to my emotions, and they are taking me on one hell of a ride today.  My last entry was filled with hope and positive outlook, and I did have a great day, but the weather didn’t last, and with the clouds & cold my nausea & anxiety have returned, along with the nightmares.  I’ve tried lucid dreaming, I’ve tried cognitive exercises, I’ve tried meditation and distraction techniques…. nothing’s worked for me.  I used to experience dream-less sleep when I was a drinker, but I refuse to lean on that crutch again.  There has to be a better way to work through this.  

I just wish God could come and shake me out of this feeling. Frustrated, hopeless, scared feelings consume my heart.  Almost every moment of my alone time is spent either fighting tears or just giving into the comfort of sadness.  I’ve gotten so many judgmental reactions, both assertive and passive-aggressive, that I’m even apprehensive of talking to a counselor.  I don’t know if I can survive any more rejection at this time and maintain my sanity.  Dear God, why are you always sending these obstacles my way?  Why can’t I ever get a break?   


Today is different.  It is the beginning of the rest of my life.  Last night, I had no nightmares.  This morning, I was awoken by my cat Chewby and felt no nausea or anxiety. Maybe it’s because it’s a day off, maybe not, but I hope it is something that will become a trend.  I’ve always struggled with anxiety, and chose some less than healthy ways to deal with it, but my old coping mechanisms have fallen to the wayside, being replaced by breathing exercises, prayer, and, well, yes I still smoke cigarettes, but who is perfect?

So, instead of reflecting on some of life’s bleaker realities, I just wanted to be grateful today.  Sunshine & 60+ temperatures (and climbing).  Knowing I can spend today doing whatever I want to do, because all of my personal chores & errands are taken care of, and I don’t have to spend my day off doing someone else’s laundry because they were too damn lazy to get it done themselves.  I am drinking a magical cup of coffee with the most amazing partner sitting next to me, full of love and support as she watches her human mother struggle on a daily basis, she is always here for me.  I am very thankful to still be alive, and that my parents raised me with love and encouragement (most of the time), and that I had enough strength to leave an abusive situation.  I beat myself up constantly for the bad decisions I’ve made, whether it was getting arrested, wasting time and energy in fruitless pursuits, or fighting for and marrying a man that obviously didn’t want to love or care for anyone other than himself.  But less often, do I give myself credit for the few good things I’ve accomplished.  So, I’m consciously making the effort to not beat myself up today.  I am flawed and I’ve done the best that I can, but that doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful or smart or capable, it just means that my journey is hard right now, navigating through this life with nothing more than a detailed account of what NOT to do.

Victim Mentality

Being a victim of domestic violence isn’t something that just happens to a person, it isn’t just a characteristic of their past, like, “I was a victim of addiction, but I don’t use anymore.”  It also can’t be described as something that happened to you, or that you experienced.  Rather, it feels like it becomes a part of who you are, in some way stealing your true identity and replacing it with a shell of what used to be you, but inside is filled with anxiety, fear, anger, doubt, resentment, and a constant longing for it all to be over.  A longing for the pain to be a memory of what you had to endure, instead of the constant reminder, behind the daily struggle of morning time nausea that you’ve just gotten used to, the same way you got used to your empty bed.

The single biggest challenge for me has been my anger.  I had anger management issues when I was an adolescent, and I spent a lot of time focused on bettering that part of myself, and through reflection and behavioral changes, I was quite successful.  I struggled with alcoholism, and through the help of my family and friends, I am sober, and quite proud of that success as well.  But, I’ve learned that just when you’re feeling good about yourself, something or someone will float your way, like a nasty, dark, little rain cloud to ruin any warm, sunny feelings you might have.

That’s what bothers me the most, knowing that this person, the one I trusted and loved more than anyone, could take the power of my happiness from me.  The person I fought for, that I defended to my family, friends, and my own better judgement, would take joy in my pain, both emotional and physical.  This man, who was supposed to protect me, instead, calls the police on ME and lies about my actions and character.  The man that I put before everyone, including myself, could take advantage of me and whatever little I had, and still felt the right to evict me from my own home.

I’ve never witnessed abuse in my home as a child, so, naturally I was confused and ashamed.  I knew that I had to call my mother, but I was scared now of her disapproval, her disappointment, and most of all, the pain it would cause her.  I was afraid she would see me as weak person, to allow myself to be victimized, choosing a man that she didn’t believe was up to my standards or in any way a good or decent person.  But even she gave him a chance, so how could she blame me?  I believed in love, I believed in a happily ever after, I believed in second chances and the power of good influence to change a person.  Then again, I also once believed in the tooth fairy.

February 11 2013

My “wedding” day.  

I dreamed, like most little girls did, of one day getting married, having a beautiful reception, and living happily ever after.  And, as a desi girl, I understood the importance of a wedding (whether or not I agree with the extremes some people go to in an effort to impress others is entirely besides the point), inviting people you know AND like, documenting the day with photographs, eating cake or gulab jamun… just making memories and celebrating happiness.  That being said, I wanted, and still want to participate in this tradition.

My soon to be ex husband, however, did everything in his power to kill my dream.  About 5 years into our relationship, he became engaged to another woman.  Not just some random person, but a girl he had grown up with, a family friend, someone who I thought was obsessively infatuated with “my man.”  The truth behind this event is still a mystery to me, I’ve heard many different stories, and the one told to me by my husband assigns the blame to blackmail, obsession, and his parents’ need to control him and keep him away from me.  Sure, I was naïve, but love is blind and that’s my best excuse.

Regardless of the fact that his previous engagement was celebrated with all the festivity of a small wedding, he was adamant about not having a big celebration, we went back and forth, I wanted to stand up for my dream, but it was proving to be more difficult than I had imagined, I felt avoided, ignored, and dismissed.  I tried to involve my future in-laws, but experienced the same reception of rejection and disinterest.  His father left the country just days before we had planned to marry, in a passive aggressive attempt to show his disapproval.  My brother was coming from overseas to join us in the celebration, which eventually just became a religious ceremony only attended by my immediate family, my cousin, my husband & a friend who photographed the occasion.  It was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, so I ignored my feelings of disappointment and just tried to pretend it was what we wanted.  Through extensive reading and self-help I’ve realized the extent of his control over me.  Not just my actions, but my opinions, desires, feelings; all were adapted to his comfort and acceptability. 

That morning, the day of our wedding, he told me he had gambled away $400 the night before.  Disappointment. It was to be the theme of our life together.

Respect yourself…

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy. If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Maybe you’ve marked yourself down. It’s YOU who tells people what your worth is. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.

Snow Day

When I was a child growing up in this town, Charlotte got maybe one, two days of snow, at the maximum, and I never remember them being so close together.  Usually one in December, another a month later, and every time, the white would slowly start disappearing, completely melting by the afternoon.  Back then, snow meant no school, an endless number of neighborhood playmates, hot chocolate… but most of those things change when you’re an adult. No work means lost sales, too many kids at home are now a nuisance, and for me, really bad, horrible things always happen when it snows.

A few days after my marriage (I don’t say wedding, but that’s for another time) it snowed.  The night it started, my husband was out with his coworkers, drinking, and I was at home trying to be the good wife, cleaning, keeping to myself, trying to give him the “space” I’d read about so many times in different articles on how to make your marriage “work”.  He came home earlier than I expected, and not by himself, but with his coworkers, whose names I neither recall nor care to remember, in a horribly sour mood.  He had run into one of his friends who, according to my husband, took this opportunity to talk shit about me (another long story for another day, none of my husband’s family or friends accepted me as his wife) and this conversation resulted in blows.  So, his coworkers got him out of there and decided to move the party to our tiny apartment.  Lots of drunken bullshit transpired, I was annoyed, disgusted, tired, and just ready to be alone again, not knowing exactly what would happen that night.  

After his guests left, I started getting ready for bed, and I asked him why he just didn’t walk away, why he fought and why he had to bring so many drunk people back to our home.  These questions, which I thought were simple enough, and I was justified asking, resulted in the first fight of our marriage.  I was berated, insulted, my character questioned. I was man-handled (he’s not a big guy, but I’m a very tiny woman) and mind-fucked.  Finally, he went to my car, grabbed our marriage license, which was to be mailed the following day to become official in the state of North Carolina, stood outside my window, and ripped it up into tiny pieces, all the while staring at me and maniacally laughing.  That image is forever etched on my brain; his mean expression and how he could laugh knowing how much he was hurting me.  

He left that night… and I should have too.