I’m completely terrified right now. I told myself that the next blog that I was going to write I was going to be titled “My Divorce.” And so I’ve been putting it off… And putting it off. And something about writing it down — here especially — makes it feel really real. Like it’s actually happening. I’m such an unreasonably hopeful person. I still don’t want to believe that it’s happening. But it IS happening. It’s time for me to be honest… Not just with you, but with myself.
A little over a year ago, my wife told me she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. She said that she’s 100% sure, and that she wasn’t interested in any sort of marital counseling. There is nothing — literally nothing — which could have come as more of a shock to me than hearing this from her. If you had pulled a live alligator out any orifice of my body, I wouldn’t have been as surprised. Weeks earlier, I was bragging to strangers about how this time of married life was so sweet. We had our stresses and our struggles like any other couple… Mostly about finances. But I had put fear of her leaving me away a long time ago.
Saying “I do” was probably the scariest thing I had ever done. My parents got divorced when I was a kid, and I grew up looking at divorce as one of the great failures in a person’s life. I have always found it easy to love deeply, but with that love came an almost equally deep fear… Fear that she would leave. I carried that fear into the first 12 or so years of our marriage. Initially it came out in insecurity and jealously. It came out in being afraid to say no when she wanted to do something that sounded exhausting. It came out in trying to do ALL the things. My dad was the furthest thing from a good husband and father, and I was terrified of being like him… Of being unloving… Of being a failure at being a good husband and father. But people have different definitions of what that means. I had this idea that being a “good husband” meant I had to be all things for her. And I think if she found life outside of me, it made me afraid that I wasn’t doing a good job of supplying all her needs.
Then, about five or six years ago, I released that fear. I let go of the built up fear from the places where my heart had been broken before. I realized that I could NEVER be everything she needed, and whatever brought her Life, I was all for it. I trusted her completely. Or, as close to completely as my consciousness allowed. Which made this announcement… Shattering.
I had about a three day panic attack, where I couldn’t eat or sleep. I thought I was having a heart attack. And if I’m being honest, that ache in my chest has never really gone away… It’s here right now. I learned about something called “anxiety.” I started seeing a counselor. I slept on the couch. When she was there, we passed each other in the hallway like strangers. About six months later, she moved out. Our three kids spend half their time with her, and half their time with me. They are resilient and funny and frustrating and lovely and difficult and wildly intelligent. They are kind and lazy and mean and creative and hungry… And they don’t make fun of me when they find me crying for no reason.
I’ve made MANY mistakes. There are many things I did and didn’t do which certainly led to the growing resentment that broke my heart, devastated my life, and shattered my family. I never even considered they could be at a level that would wind up with me living with the new, sour flavor in my mouth of phrases like “your mom’s house.” I think one of the hardest things is losing a family. For close to half my life, I thought of her family as MY family. I genuinely love those people. Now these people who I thought accepted me and loved me are now just… Gone. Sometimes in life, people just decide that they are done. And sometimes in life, you are forced to learn that there are many things you can’t control.
I wish I was strong enough to fight for her. I think I’m too heartbroken to do anything. Anyway, I don’t even know what that would look like. She knows me. She knows me better than anyone… And she doesn’t want to be with me. It’s much easier being rejected by people who DON’T know your heart. Still, I’m stupid with hope. I’ve talked to people who have been divorced for years, and they still hope for a reconciliation. But I’ve been talking about believing women… I have to believe her when she says that there is no chance to fix this. I have no interest in starting over. I still don’t understand how the legality of divorce works. It’s not final yet. I hate it… Having this person who I have always been for, and now being forced into a situation where I feel like that isn’t be the case… I don’t know how to be anything but for her. To an unhealthy degree, actually. I’m not sure how to make decisions with myself in mind (I’m also learning about something called “codependence”).
So I’m definitely depressed. And that’s really something I am unfamiliar with. Sometimes I sleep for about 11-12 hours… Other times I lie in bed until the sun starts coming in the windows, followed by three or four small naps. And I’m really SO sorry for neglecting my writing here more than usual (for those of you who look forward to this). All this shit happened in conjunction with COVID, and me being furloughed from my job because of the virus, and the stupid, lonely isolation of quarantine. Combine those things with seasonal depression and the uneasy despair over this coming election, and it’s made for some very dark days. I think I feel ashamed. But the reason has nothing to do with any Christian expectation or the “sinfulness” of divorce, and everything to do with feeling rejected by my best friend. There are people who looked up to us — and to our marriage — and I feel like I’m letting those people down, so it’s not something I’ve been talking about with too many people. I love her… And I can’t stand to see her… And I don’t know what to do next. I’ve been dreading writing this, and so I’ve been putting it off for months. And that’s made me feel like a coward. But maybe writing this post will be the mucus plug that signals the coming birth of a new, less sad time.
Or maybe not. I still feel destroyed. Either way, I thought you should know….
Thank you for reading my mucus plug. Thank you SO much to my Patrons, whose support has helped keep my afloat. If you feel like supporting this blog and my writing, you can BECOME A PATRON. If you’d like to leave a tip, you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL, or you can Venmo your generosity to “chris-boeskool”. Otherwise, I’d love if you’d join me on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER.
So sorry. Been there and there is nothing really to say that will help. I ranted and raved to God….once I heard that things will get better. And many years after that….I finally believed it.
I’m so sorry. This sounds so hard. Sending all the strength for this incredibly difficult season. I’ve seen a few people through their divorces and I have seen that it will get better. For my next friend’s divorce, I will now have your piece to share and it will probably help them. So I thank you in advance for my future divorcing friend.
I feel like I just read the same post from Jen Hatmaker. You guys should chat. I am sorry for your situation and hope you find your way to happiness again.
Oh my god.. I feel your pain. I was married 24 years…. Out of the blue my husband (ex now) says to me, “I don’t love you anymore”. Devastating. Would not even consider counseling. “It won’t work”. I was floored; actually, I still am. The most stand-up, honest, responsible man I knew. I still don’t know and that was in 2016. Lots and lots of dark days…. Long story, of course. Happy to share my process of healing with you should you be interested. What I want to share with you right now is…. I am sitting on MY terrace in Mexico., looking at the Pacific and watching the Mantas jump. A few weeks, I will be watching whales. I sold everything, loaded up my clothes and my dog and drove from Austin, TX to Puerto Vallarta, MX. That was December 2019. I have never in my life been so free and so happy. So… hang in there. You have no idea what God, The Universe, Higher Power has in store. I never in a million years would have seen myself here. I am still working (remotely), living and loving my life. My heart goes out to you…. Mona
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Thanks for sharing. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and each time there was so much to learn, so much to unlearn, so many layers scraped off, so much healing of the exposed, fragile, raw, deeper me. However, it turns out, the deeper we go, the lighter we become. Love.
So sorry, Chris. You’re in my thoughts.
I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say other than that everything fucking sucks right now, but one day there will be light again. You are so beautiful and smart and strong and I have so much hope and love for you friend.
First, I am so sorry Chris, to hear about the end of your marriage. It sucks. There is no point in sugar-coating it.
I’ve been divorced but I was the initiator so I know that I’d been thinking about it for months and by the time I made the move I’d done a lot of the emotional work already. But my husband had not and neither have you. Be gentle with yourself – it’s a horrible shock.
What friends who have been on the receiving end of that news tell me is that they went through feelings akin to those that happen when someone you love dies. You need to be kind to yourself by eating, sleeping and talking, talking, talking to trusted friends and family.
Try to keep perspective: divorce isn’t a death although it might feel like it. You can and will be happy again but it will take time. Lots of it.
Don’t close off from others because your heart is broken. I don’t know you except through your writing but through that vehicle I feel that I know enough to know that you have a big, sensitive heart. Don’t close it down – hopefully your kids will be enough to keep it open and receptive until you are at the point – well into the future – where you can be open to a new, loving relationship.
I’m really sorry. It’s so hurtful and no easy but as trite as it sounds, ‘this pain too will pass.’
This is my hope for you. xo
I wish I had wise words or comfort or anything that I could give to help with your pain, but I don’t. I’m sure it all feels inexplicable right now. I read somewhere that the person who leaves often plans it for 6 months to a year before telling anyone, so they have had time to process and deal with the feelings and pain, whereas the other person is just gobsmacked and reeling. I have watched my brothers pass through all the stages of divorce, and for years I worried if they would ever be happy again, but here we are 10 years later and they are happy, and their kids are all good, and they are in new relationships with people who are better suited to them. I wish for you minutes (or even whole days) where you feel real joy again, and eventual acceptance and contentment. You are a good person who has spread much wisdom into our dark and troubled world, and I have to believe that good things are in store for you too!
I’m so very sorry… (((hugs)))
***CODOLENCES*** Boeskool, from your contentedly-married-for-42-years,our first-and-only marriage, atheist (but not anti-theist). My spouse expresses the same to you. She and I have lived about ninety minutes away from Nashville since 1992, when we transplanted from the Northeast to rural Grundy County, TN.
Regrettably, what seems to work best for heterosexual, long-term, content-if-not-happy intimacy goes contrary to what is currently believed to be “the way a man and woman ought to be able to achieve relational happiness”.
Women often assume they know better than men about relationships, communication, honesty, trust, emotions, emotional vulnerability, compatibility, bonding, “what’s best for us”, et cetera – – yet, women initiate at least 70% of divorces in the US. It’s convenient and simplifying to attribute that to “men are the problem”.
But, could it be that women are far more of the reason for marriages failing than women themselves realize or than women want to face? While the traits may manifest in the genders differently, arrogance, self-righteousness, egotism, and self-centeredness occur commonly in both genders.
I’ll leave you with questions to ponder in the future, when you’re ready to ponder questions again:
Could it possibly be that it’s not only nor even primarily the husband who isn’t “doing/being what a spouse needs to do/be”, which is responsible for women later deciding “he wasn’t the compatible soul mate I proclaimed to everyone at the beginning that he was, after all”?
Could it be that women unwittingly hold erroneous ideas and beliefs, about themselves and about what creates happy heterosexual relationships, which actually undermine, harm, or destroy the happy marriages women want?
I’m sorry Chris. I’ve been there. It takes a long time to heal, and as others have said, when you are on the receiving end, you are experiencing the split from a different perspective than the one who announces/decides. It does eventually get better. Until then, it just sucks. And dealing with this during the overall suckiness of the pandemic is just unnecessarily hard. We’re out here rooting for you though. Don’t forget that.
Hey, Chris, I sympathize. I’ve felt this pain because I’ve been there myself. This would be a crappy time to be recovering from such a blow. For whatever it’s worth, I can only suggest what helped me: a lot of getting out into God’s Creation and using my body for exercise. I hiked and biked and camped to transfer my attention to my body’s kinesthetics away from my mind/heart. And btw, I don’t agree that being divorced is inherently sinful. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers for healing. Good luck and pray you will grow the callus over the wound as quickly as it’s healthy.
Chris, I’m so sorry. I’ve been through a divorce, and I know a little bit of what you’re feeling.
I won’t waste your time with platitudes. But I’ll say this: your high degree of self-awareness, and the fact that you can express your feelings so well — I think those will help you get through this and eventually come out on the other side. And, yes, there is an other side. Praying for you.
Love you, Boeskool. It’s lonely and confusing and upsetting and enraging and desperate to lose your partner. I’m here for you and love you and Lilian both. These feelings aren’t going to last forever. Hold on to that. 🧡
Hey. My mom pointed me at this post because she knew I’d relate, and I do. I too got surprised by divorce after 17 years, just when I thought things were going well.
Just a few things:
a) Good job writing about it.
b) The period of my divorce was the worst and hardest of my life. But ~3 years later, I can say that I’ve found greater happiness than ever before. Indeed, greater happiness than I thought was possible. Look forward to looking back on this time.
c) There is no failure here. Divorce does not invalidate a relationship. You walked alongside a partner for, what, two decades? That’s in the permanent “win” column.
d) I don’t know you, but sometimes strangers are easier to talk to. Hit me up if you want to spill. avdi at avdi dot org.
Wow. That was something. I’ve been trying to break away g or 3 years from a man that is cruel, but I can’t because he is disabled from a stroke he had 6 yrs ago. So I stay. Im sorry you are going through this.
I’m so sorry to hear this. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your heart. I hope this does open you up to feeling some relief and a sense of closure and moving forward. Your voice is important and you are loved and cherished by many. Keep sharing your truths.
That’s a hard thing. And it’s huge that you shared your pain with us. I know our hearts go out to you as you find your way through.
Hello Chris, I am truly sorry that this has happened. Divorce is one of the most difficult circumstances one can go through. It brings a tremendous feeling of loss with it. But in the midst of such a tremendous challenge may you find comfort and strength to start anew. If you know the power of prayer, pray for your wife and ask God to open your heart to His touch, and to the touch of forgiveness. Prayer changes everything and gives us the grace to get through the most challenging, life-unsettling moments and times.
My prayer is for your peace and that God will show you the depth of His love, and how much he loves you. You are important to God the Father and God’s plans for you, your life, your future are good. Inspite of all that has taken place God still has a plan for your life. We bless those who have cursed us, we pray for those who have mistreated us and we take all of our cares to a loving God who not only deeply loves each of us but deeply cares about us; how we feel and the depth of our sorrows, our struggles and our pain. In this may you know that God is right there with you. You will not walk through this journey alone. Be strengthened, be encouraged, and pupose in your heart to remain open in the weeks and months ahead. Open to the knowledge that God is at work in you. God has work for you to do and lives for you to touch.
Your latter years will be far greater and far more fulfilling than even years of the past. Remember prayer changes everything. Chris, God wants your heart and he profoundly desires a relationship with you. Renew your walk in Christ, and ask God to touch you in ever area where there is brokenness. Not only will God restore you but he will also give you an Agape love towards your wife. In setting her free God will do the work of healing for each of you.
Be strong…and know that although we are strangers…You are in my heart, my prayers and my thoughts. I will be praying for you, and for your family.
Boeskool. I am so sorry. I am just reading this now and my heart just breaks for you. I went through it, but I wanted it by the time it finally happened and I can tell my situation was very very different. I know you loved your wife – it was obvious in your writing and in your FB posts (as horribly lame as that sounds, I believe it). All I can say is that a new normal does eventually surface. And new normals have hopes and joys and all of that human condition stuff. And hey… Biden won?!? Joy in what we do have is better than sadness in what we do not. If I can ever be of any support for you, please do not hesitate to reach out.
From what you say, it seems that you’ve been subjected to spousal abandonment, which is far more traumatic than a ‘normal’ divorce (not that any divorce is normal). My ex walked out on our 30-yr marriage – he literally moved his stuff out of the house before I arrived home from work one Friday; waited until I came home, told me he wanted a divorce, and … left! He’d never said anything about being unhappy, so I was left reeling in shock. He refused to consider marriage counselling, and made the divorce hell on earth for me (my luck: he’s a lawyer). I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, needed a huge amount of medication. I really feel for you, and am sending you as much strength as possible. I know of a site called ‘Runaway Husbands’ (https://www.runawayhusbands.com/), but the principles apply to any ‘runaway’ spouse. It may make you feel less alone … I hope so. Take good care of yourself.
I hope things are going better. I’m going through a divorce after 20 years. It was totally unexpected. Take care of yourself. Best wishes.
I don’t know you but I’m proud of you. It takes such courage to lay our souls bare and share with others the pain we’ve been trying (and failing) to hide. The thing about trauma (and divorce is trauma) is that you have to keep watering and feeding that ugly plant until it becomes something beautiful again. It’ll take root one day. It’s then that you can share what you learned…share your experiences and help someone else. I believe that’s what you’re doing here…even if you didn’t know it at the time. So, thank you.
I see so much of myself in this post. I hope you’re doing ok and on a path to healing. You are not alone.