Hitting the Floor
Looking back at the six month period after X said he wanted a divorce for the final time is like a journey through some kind of psychology glossary. There were so many emotions that came and went in big rolling waves.
One thing that came to mind last week was that I spent a lot of time on the floor in those days. In my mind's eye, I had a vivid recall of the rumpled side of the bed and the view far up to the ceiling. I relived the exhausted devastation and felt my vertebrae pressed into the wall. Just like old times.
Prior to all this, we had just moved into a rented house and were about to build a home. The rental home that became our last address together was really wonderful. It was very large- about 3500 square feet. High ceilings were among its many features- they were about fourteen feet tall in all the rooms. The house had four bedrooms, three baths, an office, a huge formal dining and living area, a giant kitchen and family room and a sun room. I was very grateful to have found it.
Despite the temporary nature of this residence, the interior designer in me had risen to the occasion. Most of the boxed up items were stored in the spare bedrooms, so our living areas were nicely outfitted with our furniture and accessories. The master bedroom had our comfy king size bed and a pleasant sitting area with two armchairs.
This was all well and good until X moved out a couple months later. After that I trudged around the rooms, surrounded by the accumulation of 25 years of memories, good and bad. Soon, winter set in and the dreary coldness matched my mood. I took to mainly living in the master bedroom, which, despite its palatial scale, seemed somewhat cozier than the rest of the house. At least it had curtains and I felt some privacy. There I passed the next few months in complete agony. The complete and fundamental rejection was almost like an out of body experience. You know the lone piece of crumpled paper you see in a windstorm? That was me, borne on the breeze and just floating about, waiting to land somewhere.
My typical day was something like: Wake up, cry, go to work. Cry on the drive home. Get home and eat a little something and cry. Repeat the cycle. That was it. For months, I was completely consumed by grief.
Plenty of bedroom seating notwithstanding, (pun intended) I spent most of my time up close and personal with the floor- oh, it was carpeted. A nice pale berber, I think it was even DuPont Stainmaster. I don't remember actually choosing to sit on the floor, but it seems I always ended up there. Sometimes I even cried myself to sleep there and would wake up stiff and sore, with a wafflely berber pattern indented in one red and swollen cheek. I remember a few times sobbing so hard I would just kind of slide onto the floor. Sometimes I remember screaming and kicking and sometimes I just remember pressing down quietly, wishing that the floor would just swallow me up.
The previous times I'd dodged the divorce bullet weren't quite as devastating. I was sure those many times before that the tide would turn and everything would be right again. They were always emotionally harrowing experiences, but I always maintained confidence. This time was the opposite, maybe it was the unfamiliar surroundings or maybe I was finally becoming weary of the process, but I had little faith that things would turn around. I sensed something was different. I didn't know until much later how different things really were.
What we really need when we are at our lowest point is a stable foundation. Being on the floor felt safe, because there I knew I couldn't go any lower. It wasn't moving, it wasn't going anywhere. I could pretty much count on that concrete slab. Nobody could come and knock me down any farther than I already felt- I was already there. I must have subconsciously been attempting to feel something that was permanent.
Living though an experience like this was like having a limb amputated with no anesthesia. Every day. One thing that helps me when I feel some anger, or the pain wells up again from time to time is to recognize the feeling for a bit and then jump off into some self examination. Looking at the role you played has a way of taking that victim edge off the situation...
The upside/downside is being acutely aware of how much pain I have caused by my words or actions. That hurts worse. While it is tough to forgive others, it is much harder to forgive ourselves for the decisions we've made and the things we've done. Honest self examination is important, and a healthy dose of self love prevents it from becoming a downward spiral. Please don't ever self examine to beat yourself up - do it to love yourself more.
At least looking at the log in my own eye always makes it a lot easier to live with the speck in someone else's. It also helps keep my log pile from growing quite so quickly. Hope so anyway!
The best part is that my log(s) and I are safe on a firm foundation that doesn't depend on the feelings and decisions of someone else. I finally let myself rely on the strength within me. I am my own floor now.