Closure: Searching for A Sign This Painful Event Is Almost Over

sad girlA Wife’s Painful Question:

“What is/are the sign(s) of closure?

How is one supposed to know that there is closure in a past relationship?

I’m at a very confusing period of my life, I don’t know if there’s absolutely no chance of rekindling a relationship, or if there is?

I just need help/advice really. ~ Heartbroken Wife”

This question about broke my heart. I remember fishing for hope, grasping on any little proof that I might be on the road to recovery, secretly afraid the misery might never end.

For Heartbroken, and so many other wives who have traveled this cruel path, here is my take on how I finally emerged from the crippling pain and began to enjoy my life again.

bird2

Dear Heartbroken Wife, 

In my mind’s eye, I see my life as a book, with various chapters and a whole crowd of people coming and going. I’m the central character in the story of my life. My husband of 20 something years was a major character, and his importance to my story was immense. So when he developed a drug addiction, cheated on me, made me feel old and no longer worth anything anymore, I found myself in an ocean of pain, being slammed against by every fear a wife could have. But love dies slowly, and I found myself torn about what my story would be without him. I wanted him in it, and somewhere in my mind, a tally had begun. The weight of the value of a marriage that I loved versus the weight of each terrible thing said or done, and the wounds that they left behind in my heart and soul. 

For a solid year I begged, cried, yelled, wrote texts, emails, letters, reasoned with him, provokedbroken windows him….I did everything in my power to save a marriage that I cherished.  The lies, disappointments, betrayals were stacking up, and the value of the marriage was diminishing. Not quickly, but steadily all the same.

At some point, though, I started to get used to my new life, and instead of feeling alone, broken heart birdsbetrayed, abandoned, discarded, feelings of pleasure started leaking in. My ex has always been fundamentally selfish, a major extrovert who needs an audience at all times. I’m exactly the opposite, and most of marriage I found myself the  unwilling audience for him while he watched movies that I hated (horror, bloody and disgusting) reality shows (Cops, Kennedy Documentaries) which I hated, and a whole bunch of other activities I felt I had no real choice in the matter. Not if I wanted some peace. 

Tcropped-broken-heart-pieces.jpghat was the area of my life where I started to notice that some of this new path wasn’t all bad. I liked having the whole bed to myself, or taking a bath without someone shouting unimportant questions through the door, oblivious to anyone’s needs and desires save his own. I liked cooking the kinds of stuff I like to eat, and my days off work were completely mine to do as I pleased. Mostly, though, I liked the quiet of my new life. I had not realized how thirsty I had been all this time for peace and quiet. Everything about our marriage just always felt so …loud. 

 As I found more enjoyment in things I chose for myself, the less I cared what he was doing, or saying, or sleeping with. The scales had finally tipped against the marriage, and before I knew it, there was no comparison between what I made me happy now and what made me happy when we were married.

I stopped answering every phone call or text. It no longer seemed so important that hesadness understand the agony he had caused for me. A knock on my apartment door, once the highlight of my miserable existence, now brought an opposite reaction. Instead of trying to force my shattered soul into some semblance of forgiveness, I found myself actually feeling it instead. Where anger and rage had ruled for a year of my life, indifference had taken up residence.

When my ex faded into the background of my life, that is when I knew I had achieved something I honestly felt I could never do — I closed the chapter of my life that told the story of my marriage. From the day I met him, how he became my greatest love, all the way to how is fell apart so tragically, and the grief that tore me to shreds. A story about how neither of us will ever be the same again because of each other. 

For me, the signs of closure were these:

  • When you no longer feel a powerful emotion about the person or event that hurt you so much – love, hate, bitterness, etc. The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.
  • When you look back and upon the mental comparison, you find that you’d rather stay in the life you’re in now than to go back to the life that you once mourned. 
  • When you find yourself able to revisit the memories of the good times without the pain boomeranging into your stomach the very next minute. 
  • When you find yourself looking forward to the rest of your life, with a little more curiosity, a little more confidence, and a little more wisdom. 
  • When fear no longer paralyzes you, for you have learned the hard way, fears have more power hiding in our minds than when we are actually face to face with them. 
  • And lastly, when I realized one day that my opinion of myself was more valuable to me than his opinion of me, was. 

If I made it through, anyone can. I pray for peace and comfort for you, Heartbroken. It does eventually stop hurting so much. Just take things minute to minute, step to step. You’re stronger than you think you are. We all are. 

~ Bird

bird

Pain Shopping

trustHave you ever heard the lyrics to a song, and felt almost positive that the song could have been written specifically for you? There are several songs that I avoid listening to anymore, mainly because of what they whispered to me at certain haunting times along the way. One song, though, stands out among them, and I’m reminded again that I’m still walking a precarious path emotionally, and it would be wise for me to guard myself from falling into yet another trap. That is the trap of using pain shopping as a defense against someone. It, like anything else, can become a crutch… an addiction, even… that will tear you up even as it protects you.

The song is Somebody I Used To Know by Gotye. It’s like the fourth most popular song ever in the entire world, so you’ve probably all heard itused to know before. The lyrics I’m referring to go as follows:

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

Read more: Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

What really strikes home with me about this song is the obvious contradiction between the level of sadness the singer is experiencing because of his lost lover refusing to continue as just friends, compared to the carelessness of his words. If the past lover was now just someone he used to know, then why the song? I like how it seems to call attention to the internal struggle that can go on in the heart and the mind of a single human being.  I can certainly relate.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m still occasionally finding myself “pain shopping”. This is the term I use to refer to the intentional dredging up of sad and/or painful memories, with no clear constructive reasons. Instead the opposite is true… remembering for the express purpose of torturing yourself all over again. The pain is what you are purposely looking for.  I found myself doing this again last night. Chef has made plans to move out of Tulsa. But even though I had consistently and clearly told him I was not going back to him, he seemed unfazed by my objections. I don’t mind him living near me…I mind him moving near here just because I’m here.

Chef seems to blow me off when I tell him I’m finished with this marriage, often sending an intimate or hopeful text within hours of my last effort to make him back off. It looks like he is ignoring what he doesn’t want to hear, and I think that is what may have set off last night’s massive pain shopping spree.

living and shitI have such a laundry list of things I could name that still have immense power over me. Just a brief thought of some of them is enough to make the freshly healed wounds break open again. These loaded thoughts seem to hover near the surface of my mind, ready to drop like nets around my heart should I move to lower my guards against Chef.  Last night, Chef had excitedly mentioned that he was heading out of Tulsa maybe that evening, and while a part of me got somewhat excited to see him (Yes. Sometimes I still miss him a lot), the other side of me got all freaky, and within a few short minutes, I had all sorts of painful memories marching through my mind. I baited him with a particularly inexcusable one, and the war was on. I fired the first shot in this latest battle, and I despise the guilt I feel over it. How is he supposed to heal if I keep breaking his wounds open as well as mine? I used pain shopping to push him away again, but the bill was affecting both us yet again. There is no need for either of us to try keeping what we had alive. It’s been dead for a really, really long time now. Any chance of resurrecting it again is gone, and I fear only complete silence on my end is going to make it climb into its grave and disappear completely from both of our lives.

I just suck at ignoring him. I really have no idea why!

For the millionth time, we vowed never to speak to one another again. It usually lasts about four days, although I find that I am not the one who breaks these silences any frog twolonger. Part of me is very glad; the other is kind of sad all over again. Just how many times am I going to have to say goodbye to this guy?

Today, I am reminded that Chef has shown me a side of himself that I can’t live peacefully with.

Here’s how I try to explain it:

For a lifetime, Chef was just the really cool guy.

One day, when he opened his mouth, a large, slimy frog tongue flicked me in the face, causing me to bleed. Thinking it was a fluke or just my imagination, I kept returning to Chef, hoping to see that the frog tongue wasn’t real. Each time I did, the tongue was still there, and it would flick at me mercilessly. Finally, after too much proof, I had to accept the Chef had grown a frog’s tongue.

Now, Chef no longer flicks me with a long, slimy frog’s tongue, and would like me to pretend that he never had one in the first place, and that all the scars from the little wounds his nasty tongue inflicted on me are from other things.

How can I do that? He might grow that tongue again, or worse. I was traumatized by his behavior, and I can’t never mention any of it to him again. We simply can’t heal together at all.

I tried explaining the Frog Tongue Theory to him, and he just thought I was calling him a frog face. If these men or women that hurt us could just have a physical phenomena happen, like growing a large, slimy frog’s tongue, it would be so much easier to deal with the fear. The fact that a narcissist or psychopath looks just like anyone else, makes them so much more frightening, in my opinion. I don’t know if Chef honestly can feel real regret over all that happened. His words say one thing, but his actions and his self-pity say something completely different. I get the impression that frog tongue is still in there, hiding.

At any moment, my stomach might have begun to bloat...

I don’t want to be hyper-vigilant in any relationship, always waiting for the other person to mess up. I think that will be easier with someone who hasn’t already hurt me over and over. I don’t see how I can relax with Chef enough to trust him again, and my peace and the joy I take out of life is important enough to me to give me the strength to leave the past, with Chef in it, behind.

The pain shopping has to stop. You can, indeed, get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, as well as pain, self-pity, martyr-ism, and a bunch of other bitter things that spring up out of real trauma. I don’t want this behavior to go on in me, so I’m cutting out what triggers it… Chef. I’m going to do my best to completely ignore his efforts to contact me, and focus my energy on more positive things.

I’m feeling more peaceful after putting my thoughts about last night on the screen and out of the dark corners of my mind where they can grow into monsters.

I would normally apologize to Chef for launching this latest attack, but I think that the more merciful thing to do is to completely let him go… both for me as well as for him. In case he ever does read this blog, at least it’s up here so  he’ll know I am sorry I keep this stuff alive. I’m trying to let it die.

— Bird

Update on Dad: Dad had fluid removed from his right lung yesterday, and his left lung this morning. Obviously, he is remaining on sedation for a little while longer. The doctors are hoping to wean him off the trachea and the sedation aggressively in the next few days. When he started coming off sedation yesterday, he did seem a little more alert, but he wouldn’t talk. I don’t really know what to think except my dad is one stubborn, strong man. I’m in awe. Thank you for all the prayers!