Today marks the one-year point in our separation and I’ve not had any contact from her since February 28, though I imagine she’ll reach out soon to get the paperwork finalized and be done with all of this. I’m in a weird emotional headspace right now that I can’t figure out how to describe. Weird emotional headspaces aren’t an unfamiliar place for me, though. I can honestly say that I’ve finally done something about it this time. This past year, while probably the hardest year of my life from a mental health standpoint, has seen tremendous growth that I’d been putting off for the majority of my life. The biggest tragedy of all of it, though, is that I knew all along what needed to be done, what steps I needed to do to fix my thinking. All of this could have been avoided if I’d simply gone to therapy in my 20s, when it was first recommended to me. I wonder who I would be today if I’d done that.
Part of wishes that I could say I’m hurting tonight, that I’m regretting my actions and my choices. It wishes that I’d collapse and sob and wallow in the misery, bury myself in the guilt and shame of the consequences I brought upon myself. It wants me to punish myself for hurting her, for wasting so many years of her life, for betraying her trust, for allowing her to relocate away from her family. It’s pushing me to wonder what would have happened if I’d only done this, or said that, and grieve all over again at the lost potential of our marriage. It’s a small part of me, though, and it won’t be how I spend this night. It’s a part of me that has no place in the new version of me.
This version of me has learned that there’s no use in speculating what might’ve been. My choices, my mistakes, my victories… all of those things molded me into who I am tonight. Therapy has given me the tools to see them more clearly, to process them objectively and see the good and the bad that my actions have wrought upon my life. Every morning when I wake up now, I look myself in the mirror and name off three things that I’m grateful for, tell myself that I love myself and I forgive myself for the terrible choices I’ve made in my life. A few months ago, I realized that I finally believed it. It doesn’t absolve me of guilt. It doesn’t make her life any easier. It doesn’t repair any of the emotional damage I caused. It does, however, remind me that I will learn from my mistakes and work to avoid them in the future.
My name is Ben. I’m allowed to have feelings, and I’m able to talk about those feelings out loud without shame or fear. I’m allowed to cry in front of you. I’m allowed to make mistakes and, hopefully, admit that I’ve made them and learn not to repeat them. I fucked up my marriage because I didn’t believe any of these things, and because I didn’t know how to express my love on a daily basis. I’m allowed to love. I’m allowed to make a fool of myself to make a person I love smile. I’m allowed to smile, even though I’ve hurt others, because I feel earnest remorse for hurting them. I’m allowed to laugh, despite making mistakes that made other people cry.
This is my life. I think I’m finally ready to live it to the fullest.