Category Archives: forgiveness

I am So Sorry

Sometimes I feel like you left because you were bored and restless.

I feel like you left because you were unsatisfied with our marriage, our family, and your place within the life you and I had created together. I don’t think you wanted the responsibility of having a family or a mortgage. I believe that you wanted your bachelorhood back, you wanted to be single again, because the life we had created together felt stifling. You felt trapped; and you wanted to get the fuck away from me and my addled brain. 

When I feel the devastation as I wake up on Thanksgiving this morning (or any holiday), my brain automatically goes straight to the happy memories. It goes to the space left in my heart where the man I used to love lives. Where the family that meant everything to me still resides, and always will. And it hurts. It wrecks me. At least it used to. I know now that a trip down memory lane is not a place that I want to visit. It is not a place I need to dwell on. It is a land of fairy tales and happiness; hope and longing. It isn’t real.

A part of me continues to question whether it ever was.

In this moment, I want you to know that I am sorry. I am so so sorry. For not choosing you or us. For only seeing my life with you as a part of something bigger; our kids and our family. But there we were, you and I, the most important part of that equation, and we stopped choosing each other. Instead, we chose resentment, complicity, boredom, stagnancy, denial (heaps and heaps of denial). We chose the kids; not each other. We ignored the not-so-invisible monster in the room. The huge beast that was sitting there screaming at us: “Watch out!!! This is getting closer and closer to dangerous territory! Neither of you are happy!! It is time to stop ignoring that!!”

But we didn’t stop. We kept trudging along. We kept marching to the beat of someone else’s drum; society’s drum. We were caught on the relationship escalator and we didn’t know how to get off until it was too late. The escalator broke down and chucked us the fuck off. And now, here we are. Living lives that are separate and apart; we are no longer a couple.

And sometimes that hurts. A lot.

But I know, deep in my heart, that we are both happier. More satisfied. More alive and awake and aware. And we have these new lives to navigate. New horizons and paths to choose. And perhaps one day I will meet someone and we will look at each other the way you and I used to look at each other. And when that happens (or doesn’t), I will make sure that I choose them Every. Single. Day. Because I don’t want to wake up a year from then, or five years from then, and realize I was making the same mistakes I made with you.

I am so so sorry.

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Patience.

Patience.

I seem to have lost mine. Not sure I ever had much to begin with though.

I have been trying to be mindful of that secret inner voice – the unspoken push from my busy brain. It has been sending me messages of:

Should.

Could.

Would.

Those 3 words in all of their variations do so much damage. And I struggle with turning them off; stopping them completely. I can tell them to fuck off when they pop up, but come they may, with or without my consent.

I Should Have known that I had PTSD. I Should Have been better at loving and feeling regardless of my PTSD. I Should Be over this by now. I Should Not be hurting this badly or this often after 8 months. I Should Be more present and mindful. I Should Stop judging my every thought and emotion. I Should Stop waking up with anxiety. I Should Not feel so much, love so much. I Should not be vulnerable.

I Could Have done things differently. I Could have controlled my PTSD-fueled rage (not actually possible). I Could Have no more feelings. I Could Have more patience with myself (absolutely true). I Could Have made better decisions last year.

I Would Be happier with my ex. I Would be loved more if I wasn’t such a weirdo. I Would be happier if I wasn’t alone. I Would Be healing faster if it weren’t for my fucked up broken brain. I Would have more friends if I wasn’t so damn introverted. If I were at all ‘normal’ I Would Be better by now.

Nastiness. All of it. Unhelpful brain doodling (I just coined that phrase and it’s fucking brilliant).

I know that my path is hard. I understand with a beautiful introspective logic that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on said path because how could I be anywhere else?? But I also feel that nagging, incessant nudge of:

I SHOULD BE BETTER BY NOW.

I SHOULD BE OVER IT.

I SHOULD BE THIS, THAT, OTHER.

Not this achy, hurting, uncertain creature who wakes up with a hole in my chest.

Every. Single. Day.

Patience. What does that look like? What does that feel like?

A deep breath. A long overdue sigh. Letting go of the should, could, would. Being present in every moment. Making space for the hurt and the ache and treating them like an old friend, not an unwanted enemy. Allowing myself the tears that still come. Allowing myself to embrace the difficult feelings and not trying to block them; run from them. Giving myself a break from the constant (unspoken) pressure I put on myself to be someone other than I am able to be right now. Thinking gentle thoughts. Loving thoughts. Kind and peaceful thoughts. Embracing the rollercoaster instead of fighting it tooth and nail. Acknowledging that I might not be okay and that that is okay.

I will breathe. I will pull myself back to the present moment.

With patience.

DBT: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

I have been promising to share with you some thoughts on DBT – dialectical behavioral therapy. I have been attending weekly sessions on this amazing practice for a few months now. DBT focuses on mindfulness as a daily practice and also presents different “modules” that focus on such topics as interpersonal communication, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, among others.

The concept of a dialectic is important to understand before I continue. It means, in simple terms, to keep two things that may seem to oppose each other in tandem – in balance. For example, being simultaneously angry but level-headed. DBT is a life-coaching therapy. It helps you understand how to exist in your ‘wise mind’ (your healthiest most present mind state) instead of your emotion mind (out of control and operates based off of feelings) or logic mind(calculated and rational). Wise mind is a balanced state between the two (hence the dialectic).

As functioning adults in this society, we should all strive to be as present as we are able to, for as long as we are able to, in our wise minds. Wise mind is a combination of emotional mind and logical mind. It maintains that the combination of the two helps to ground us in ourselves and be the best communicators, participants, and versions of ourselves possible.

What I have noticed since I began my DBT therapy is a more patient and peaceful outlook on my life and more importantly, within myself. I am able to notice my negative thoughts when they appear. I have even created a mantra that makes sense to me – “is this a helpful thought?”; if the answer is no, I shut the door on it. Also helpful, “is this a true thought?”; again, if the answer is no, shut the damn door. I have suffered from ruminating, often unhealthy thoughts for years. You know those thoughts; the ones that cycle around and around and don’t seem to stop no matter how you try to distract yourself. They are exhausting! I have tried medication to help with these OCD-like thinking patterns. What I have come to realize is instead, is that my mind is out of practice. If I think of my brain as a muscle that has grown lazy and squishy, it makes perfect sense why I need to practice daily mindfulness. I need to strengthen my squishy brain.

Radical acceptance is another important concept in DBT. Radical acceptance means to accept what is ‘real’ completely. Reality vs. fighting reality. You absolutely cannot work through your pain without true and radical acceptance of the reality of your situation.

For the past few weeks, as I have been working through my divorce and my emotions surrounding it, I have come to realize that I have been in major denial. I have been torturing myself with an alternate reality, one that involves my husband coming home to me and to our children. I have been ignoring what is so painfully obvious to everyone around me, the reality that my marriage is over.

He is not coming home and he will never come home.

If you read through my posts, I go back and forth with this reality – back and forth with acceptance of the situation as it is and then right back to blatant rejection and false hope. My fantasy serves no purpose other than to stop me from moving forward and living my life for me. Sure, sometimes reality is excruciatingly painful. Sometimes a fantasy makes way more sense because it doesn’t hurt as much. But life can be worth living even with painful events in it. Radical acceptance is accepting in your mind, in your heart, and in your body, the reality of the situation. Radical acceptance happens when you stop fighting reality, you stop throwing fits, and you let go of your bitterness.

I will be the first to admit that this feels impossible to do on some days. Bitterness and anger toward my crap-reality feel good. It is a much easier path than the one toward acceptance. You cannot expect to avoid pain. Pain is there to signal something is wrong. It serves a purpose. When I rejected my pain this summer – when I was pretending that everything in my life and in my marriage was okay, I was causing myself intense suffering.

Until reality slapped me in the face and I could not pretend for one more second.

My most bitter pill to swallow right now is the fact that as we separate and go our different ways, I have no one. No one to wrap my arms around at the end of the day. No one to hold me when I fall apart. He does. He left this marriage and had an instant relationship already there to offer him support, love, affection, tenderness, and physical intimacy.

And now, brace yourselves. Here comes the denial and the bitterness and the fit:

I think this is unfair. And I feel embarrassed by this thought.

I want him to feel alone too. I want him to hurt too. This is my inability to face what is real. The reality is that he has a girlfriend and deserves to be happy and I need to be alone right now. I have so much self work to do and having a relationship with anyone would be an epic disaster.

Radical acceptance of my situation looks like this:

I am getting a divorce. My husband does not want me. My family will never be intact again. My children will absolutely be okay. I will absolutely be okay. Life is hard right now and might get harder for a time. I will find a job. I will not be alone for the rest of my life. I will find peace again; within myself and my life.

I don’t want to suffer anymore.

How NOT to treat a human being

There is so much rage coursing through me. I cannot control it and I don’t want to.

I shouldn’t have to.

Typically, I will get what I call a ‘rage-hangover’, because I am usually lambasting my ex and he shames me for my anger, he always has. I end up texting him relentlessly, telling him how hurt I am and how much emotional damage he has caused, in the name of polyamory! Poly people are emotionally caring, vulnerable, open-communicators. The man I married has been none of those things.

I AM ENTITLED TO MY ANGER.

I have been trying to work through it and let go of it. But fuck, I am pissed, I am hurting, and I have every right to be. I have been trying so hard to be friends with this man who claimed to love me and to be my husband.

I do not think that is possible right now.

This has not been about love, this has been about selfish and cruel behavior and I am not sure I will ever ‘get over it’. Is that even a thing? Do we ever truly get over something? The death of a loved one? A failed marriage? A betrayal of trust so deep, it has left me not trusting anyone?

I do not think that is possible right now.

I was, and still am, shamed by my ex for my rage. I was blamed for being ‘too moody’, ‘too angry’, ‘too all over the place’. Well guess what? I am allowed to be all of those things. Every single person in my life holds space for my emotions no matter what shape they take. Every single person but him.

I am allowed to hurt.

When things went south with him this summer, after my PTSD had kicked in (but we still didn’t know what it was, or what was ‘wrong’ with me), it was our 11-year anniversary. I was trying to be positive. It had been a week of triggered hell because the relationship with his meta was real and taking a forefront to my marriage. I was edgy, panicky, and just plain terrified. I quit school and my job. I got a tattoo. I was on a path to a total meltdown.

I was cooking dinner for the family, and he got on the phone with the girlfriend. I was instantly triggered. Like pumping-my-fists triggered. The adrenaline coursing through me felt horrible. I tried to tell him, “I am getting triggered, please get off the phone. It’s our anniversary, we are supposed to be cooking dinner together.” He took one look at me and said “No, your trigger is ridiculous. Who cares if I’m on the phone? We are in the middle of a conversation and I am not getting off just because you feel ‘triggered.'”

I might have thrown something at him. I don’t really remember. The next thing I do remember is crawling under the low hanging clothes in my closet and laying there freaking out, completely losing my mind. I texted a friend who told me to stay there as long as I wanted, as long as I needed. When my ex found me, he demanded that I get out, but I literally couldn’t. My 6-year-old daughter found me and crawled right in, right on top of me.

When I was finally able to get out, I asked him point-blank to pause poly. I needed help, we needed help. “I am going to end up in the hospital”, I said. I had never felt so lost and out of control in my entire life. He looked at me and said, “No. I won’t pause poly”. I replied, “So you are choosing poly over me and my mental health?”

He said, “YES”.

And in that moment, I disconnected completely from my body. The only other time I had done that was when my dad dropped dead in front of me when I was a 9-year-old little girl.

My daughter looked at me with confusion and terror in her eyes and, in that moment, I knew I had to leave. It was not safe for me to be anywhere near this man who was supposed to have my back through everything. The entire family took me to the hospital. I was admitted and stayed for 3 days in a mental health facility where they diagnosed me with PTSD and codependency.

While I was away, I had asked the ex to please not have the girlfriend over in our house, with the kids, or in our bed, out of respect for where I was and what I was going through. He said yes, he would respect that. The truth was, I was already feeling replaced and didn’t want to feel more so while I was a prisoner in a mental health facility.

He visited every single day. We would snuggle and talk; it was nice. He was a lifeline in a very dark time and place. When he picked me up to leave, we had a meeting with one of the counselors. She told him, “The next 2 weeks will be critical. Do not push her, do not surprise her, do not trigger her. Take her triggers seriously”. He said, “Okay”. We talked about strategies to use if I did go all ‘amygdala’ and entered a completely triggered state. Everything felt good. A bit scary and uncertain, but good. Hopeful.

We left the hospital and went to get a much deserved burger and beer. Not more than an hour after my release he informed me, point-blank, that he had had sex with a stranger in our bed, on our 11-year anniversary, while my kids slept in the next room, while I was on suicide watch in the ER. Then, over the course of the next few weeks, he let slip that he had also had sex with the girlfriend all weekend in our bed. I stood up and left him at the restaurant, I left my body again.

I stayed with my sister for a week. I kept the kids with me and sat around in horrified shock much of that time. I would have left him then. I would have kicked his ass to the curb if it weren’t for our kids. But instead, I moved back home and he moved back in and I spent the next 3 months living a lie; pretending that I was okay and that I would be a better person by forgiving him for those transgressions.

I began to put one foot in front of the other for all of the wrong reasons; for my family and for my children, for fear of what would happen to me, to us, if he left.

But then something else happened.

We were siting and eating dinner one night and he looked at me with the most guilty and pathetic gaze and said, “I have to tell you something”. I knew exactly what was coming and said, “You’re having sex with her without a condom”.

He said, “YES”.

He had lied again. It was our ONE solid agreement, protected sex with everyone outside of our marriage until we had a discussion around it. He had been having sex with me that entire time without a condom, without my consent, in regards to their fluid bonding.

WITHOUT MY CONSENT.

And yet, again, I tried. I swallowed that bitter pill and tried to keep it together for my kids. For my sanity. I was scared to leave him. I was scared of what that would mean for me and my abandonment issues; for my codependency.

Until one afternoon, the four of us were on my bed, being silly. I felt separate, apart, as I watched the kids play with him. And in that moment, it hit me. I left the room and curled up in the fetal position on the couch. I was bawling. He came and found me and asked me what was wrong.

 I said, “I am done”.

And here we are.

The Rollercoaster

Today has been an emotional rollercoaster.

I started off up high, at the top, looking down at the track in front of me. I couldn’t see the bottom; I was amazed at just how low it went. It was pitch dark down there and it made me feel a bit uneasy just to look at it. But in that moment, it didn’t really matter because I was high above all of the shit; I could ignore it. I was in charge of my emotions. I was the one calling the shots, and I felt amazing. I stayed up there for a few hours, feeling empowered, in control, and completely ME.

After a few hours, I felt my car start to roll forward. I was still close to the top, but I knew damn well where I was headed; I had been down that track before. I kept trying to will myself backwards, back up the track, back up to the top of the rollercoaster. I was scared of going too fast, of speeding down, down, down toward that dark abyss. I kept holding myself back, I was denying myself those emotions that felt too scary. Those feelings that have caused me in the past, to speed down that hill with no control whatsoever. I fought that downward momentum for another couple of hours, exhausting myself completely.

Until I couldn’t.

And then I let go. I let go of that emotional brake and threw down my walls. I sped so quickly down that hill that I got really scared and, without thinking, I did the strangest thing.

I began to talk out loud to myself.

I started telling myself that it was okay, that I was okay. I told myself that my feelings were valid and I was allowed to feel them. Hell, I was supposed to feel them. I was verbally validating my own feelings, talking to myself in a gentle and compassionate way. I cried a bit – I felt my emotions instead of blocking them. I was so sad and I was so angry in that moment. But instead of feeling ashamed or disgusted by my emotions, I took the time to acknowledge them. And, amazingly, they passed (something that still surprises me).

I reached the bottom of the track and my car started (as it always does) right back up to the top. I haven’t quite reached the top yet, but I am on my way. And every single day, it gets easier and easier to just let go and – not enjoy the ride, per say – but not put on that emotional brake. And the next time my car barrels down that track, I might just throw my arms up into the air, open my mouth, let it all out, and scream.

Digging Deep

Most days I wake up feeling a tightness in my chest. I feel instantly anxious; filled with emotions that range from hopeful and present, to scared and confused.

For a long stretch of time, I was feeling good. My husband and I got into a routine with the kids – they do 3.5 days with each of us. My husband was floating around from place to place – crashing here and there – and the kids were staying with his parents for the most part (consistency for them comes first).

This week things shifted, yet again. He moved into his new house and the prodigal girlfriend returned from being abroad. These two things in conjunction started to weed their way into my subconscious and then fully into my consciousness with harmful ramifications. I could not turn off my thoughts yesterday. Partly because when I saw my husband, he was texting with her, next to me in the car. He knows that this triggers me badly and yet, he did it anyway. And partly because since she has been back, he has been choosing to spend his time with her instead of with his family.

I want space from that relationship. I want space from that person, who, in my opinion, should have walked away the minute we began to struggle emotionally as a married couple WITH CHILDREN. I am in no way saying that she is the cause of our demise, merely that, when everything began to fall apart, she didn’t have the decency to say, “Hey, it looks like you need to work on your marriage. I am going to give you the space to do that”. But hell, my husband didn’t do that either.

So, yeah. I am back in the rejection phase of when he first left. They are dating and she is sleeping at his place, and from my perspective, it’s as though he has left me for another woman; 12 years younger than I am. It doesn’t feel like he is out doing the self-work and soul-searching that he claimed he needed to do when he moved out. This doesn’t feel like polyamory, this feels like abandonment, plain and simple.

I know that this too shall pass. But it feels so hard again. I feel like every time I get to a healthy head space, something or someone knocks me down; again and again. And I am left asking myself, why? Why do other people’s actions seem to define my sense of well-being? Why do I give others the power to affect me in such unhealthy ways?

It needs to stop.

I have a mantra that I have been using over the last month or so: “is this a helpful thought?”. If the answer is no (which it usually is) then I shut the door on it. I am usually able to shut that mental door and focus on the moment – I have found that being present in my self is the healthiest way to be. Being mindful, peaceful, and gentle with myself means taking control of my mind and not letting it run away with thoughts that just aren’t helpful. I have a tendency to ruminate and let my brain flood with images and fantasies (not the good kind) which serves no purpose other than to knock me down. I am so tired of picking myself up off of the proverbial floor.

I have another post coming soon about mindfulness and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) – the therapy that I am currently working on. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, try to be gentle with  yourself. Try to remember, that you are strong, you are loved, and most importantly, that you are worthy of love. That is all we can do – one moment at a time becomes one day at a time then one week at a time.

It is there, that light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen it and it’s calling me forward.

In order to find forgiveness, something must die.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to see Brene Brown speak in Lakewood, Colorado.

Over the course of 5 hours, she relayed personal stories and spoke about her new book, Rising Strong. She touched on spirituality, forgiveness, vulnerability, and from her book: the Rumble, the Reckoning, and the Revolution. She talked about being brave enough to fail and to fall down and to make mistakes. I have done all of those things this year. I have made some major mistakes, I have failed. And there have been times that I have felt emotionally at rock bottom; falling down my rabbit hole to hell, wondering if I would ever make it back out. But now, by some miracle, I am wide awake and in my own revolutionary state.

I am writing today because I want to talk about the one thing that stuck with me from her presentation. The piece about forgiveness. She told a story of interviewing a group of rabbis on the concept of forgiveness. The rabbis told her that they believe:

In order to forgive, you must be willing to let something die.

I have tried to find forgiveness for my husband and the unfathomable hurt he caused me. There was a huge breach of trust around sex within our polyamorous marriage that I won’t go into here. But, needless to say, it was a breaking point for me in my marriage and my trust for this man who was supposed to love me and treat me, above all others, with respect, care, and kindness.

For a long time, I imagined that hurt in a bag that I tucked away behind my back. I didn’t feed the hurt, I tried not to dwell on it, and yet, there I was carrying it around with me because I didn’t know what to do with it. I knew I needed to find forgiveness for him. I understood that logically, but how does one do this? How does a person so deeply hurt by their spouse or anyone that they love – move past a transgression of such intense magnitude?

Something must die.

In that moment, listening to Brene speak, I knew exactly what must die. It was my marriage and the family (living under one roof) that we created together. It was my trust and my deep love for this human being that I had lived with, built a life with, these past 16 years. It was the relationship we had before polyamory. Dead. All of those things were dead and they needed to be buried. It also became clear to me why I had clung to that hurt and that betrayal  – why I questioned whether or not I could or would ever forgive him. These were things I never wanted nor expected to die!

Saying goodbye to that man and that marriage has helped me to find forgiveness for him. It has helped me to make peace in my heart and in my mind with a very painful situation. I have moved on and I have said my goodbyes. I have stopped blaming and acting out from a place of hurt and resentment. That part of my life is a chapter in a book that I have closed. I won’t ever read it again. It is there though, it will always be there; collecting dust on a shelf.

For now, all I can do is focus on each moment as it comes and on moving forward. I can see a future for this broken family. One that involves two people who love each other, but need to reestablish themselves as friends and not lovers. Two adults who are the best versions of themselves that they have ever been and who know how to put their bullshit aside, put their hurt and resentment behind them, in order to parent. Two people who will set a loving and caring example of what a family can look like – even when it breaks.