She is soft-edges
on her heart
Her eyes smile
Betraying the depth of
on her soul
She is strength
Hardened by words
Her smile is warmth
beneath the surface
She is love
Hear heart beating
© by Christal February 2019
Something that I have done a lot of over the year and half since the ex dropped the bomb is listen to podcasts. There are a lot available out there to listen to and cover everything from politics, true crime to self help. Prior to the bomb drop, I was partial to true crime podcasts, like Serial and Undisclosed. Then during the tumultuous months of trying to work things out with the ex, I found myself listening to Rabbit, which was fantasy type story. It kept my attention diverted to something that was both riveting and mysterious.
In the past few months as I work on determining what I want (besides a solid relationship which seems to be as elusive as a unicorn at this point), I’ve turned to the category of self-help. The one podcast that I enjoy the most is by Cathy Heller who is the host of “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” which is all about finding the thing your passionate about and working on trying to make it your hustle.
The one piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is that you don’t have to be an expert and that your experience will matter to someone. I’ve taken this to heart and mulled it over. In my current (paid) job that I have, I help people every day. It is what I’ve always been drawn to do. I get great satisfaction knowing that I can help someone through a difficult situation with their work.
I never thought it would be possible to help others as they navigate this journey of being in a loving, committed marriage to feeling like your universe has been completely turned upside down by the one person you trusted the most – having your husband decide that they are done with the marriage.
So here I am – hosting a podcast called Overcomers: Living a Full-Life After. It is scary, exciting and exhilarating to be putting this out in the universe. Talking to women and helping them through their struggles. It’s something I wish I had when I sat by myself alone more nights than I care to count wondering when my husband would come home.
My podcast is currently on Stitcher and Google Play – links to both are on the left. You can also find me on Podbean at Overcomer: Living a Full Life After.
I belong to a few divorce groups, some are women only and others are a combination of men and women. When I first started on this divorce journey, I mostly sought out groups that were about healing and recovery. There are some groups that are great at this, while others are nothing but bitch/slam fests when it comes to the exes. I think all of this is good in the recovery process as long as it moves you forward.
There have been a couple of posts where I’m left shaking my head and really want to tell the poster that they need to get serious psychological help. Or at least acknowledge that they need help in order to move forward. I know what it feels like to be sad, angry, resentful, and all the other emotions that come from divorce – especially when it’s not something you want.
One group I belong to is specifically for women whose spouses cheated on them. One of the women in the group decided that she would post the name and phone number of the other woman (OW). She asked others in the group to text the OW, or more specifically, “go after the bitch.” And, of course, there were plenty of angry women in the group who were willing to oblige. I’ve been there where this woman was and am not proud of the barrage of texts I sent to the OW who was cheating with the ex. It wasn’t one of my better moments. It has never occurred to me though to ask other people to do this as well.
When we act out like this, we lose our dignity. We give power to the other person. I think we also feed into the dichotomy that the exes have told about us and it justifies their bad behavior to the affair partner as well. In this process of healing, I wish I would not have ever sent the texts that I sent. I cannot change the past, but I can do better now. Despite my worst moments over the past few months, I have not contacted the OW again. I don’t want to give her any more of my energy.
In another group I belong to, another woman had an affair while married. She is struggling with that decision and generally wanted to know how other women who had done the same thing managed with the guilt they were feeling. I applaud her for being vulnerable and posting her story. Another woman in the group though actually tried to justify her bad behavior by stating “that if your needs are being met at home, then you have no reason to cheat.”
Um, fuck no.
This was the same bullshit line that the ex used on me to justify his bad behavior. First, there is this little thing called “communication,” which is essential in any healthy relationship. If you don’t feel like your needs are being met by your spouse, then you need to talk about it. The ex told me he had been unhappy for years after he dropped the bomb on me. He also told me of the things he was unhappy about me, which I then spent a good 7 months trying to correct. I can’t help but think that had he had the courage to have this difficult conversation of his dissatisfaction with our marriage or the with me and really given us the opportunity to work on these issues, we might still be together. Even more importantly to me, if we had tried to work on things and it didn’t work, then we could have agreed to end things together and perhaps the pain that’s been created in this aftermath would not have been as great.
Second, happiness does not come from other people. If there is dissatisfaction, then you have to first examine if it’s internal or external dissatisfaction. The infatuation that comes from getting involved with another person while still in a committed relationship, hides the work that needs to be done. Something I have had to learn for myself is that I was not responsible for his happiness. I think that this is something that the ex is learning as well. I have been working really hard to own my shit, to examine how I got here and have never been unwilling to admit the mistakes that I made in my marriage. We are human and mistakes will be made. Having the expectation though that someone else is responsible for meeting your needs, for making you happy, is an excuse to justify for your bad decisions.
You need to own it in order to grow.
The last few weeks have been really tough for me for some reason. I was in a dark place. I don’t know if it’s the because of the weather which has been really wet, a few weeks of insomnia, or if it’s the fact that the ex called me during the holidays or everything combined. Actually, it is probably due to all of the above that set me back to a really dark place. All I know is that each time I go back to that dark place and emerge, I feel like I’ve slayed another demon that needed to be slayed.
I’m not going to rehash the details of my worst nights (I’m taking a break from alcohol as it definitely DOES NOT HELP AT ALL), other than to say it was scary to feel what I was feeling. And I know that I have a couple of really great people in my corner that I can text or call when I have to and I don’t utilize like I should.
One of the bad nights, I actually walked down to the water. I live very close to it. I needed to hear the sound of the ocean. It was raining out. There was no other thought than to be by the water, get out of my apartment, walk and breathe. There is a gazebo that is by the water that was my destination. I had to get there in order to just feel what I was feeling. Feel the sadness. Cry to the sound of the waves.
I laid down in the gazebo and just listened to the waves, cried and let the waves of my emotions roll over me.
I would like to say that I felt better immediately after, but it doesn’t work that way. I’ve come to discover that those moments of feeling better, the cathartic release of relief or being on the other side may not occur until days later.
When I have come to the other side – the place I’m at right now, the light, everything seems possible. That I will be better, stronger, and more resilient. (Although how fucking resilient does one need to be in this lifetime? Can someone answer that for me, please?)
It’s working through the trauma that I experienced the last seven months with the ex along with other trauma from my childhood. It’s interesting how life is so interconnected. That if you don’t deal with shit, it comes up in some way later. So I’m trying to deal with ALL OF THE EMOTIONS because I’m so ready to live in the light.
Turning inward, shriveled petals
Seeking the nurturing power of loving
Words never spoken
You are beautiful and you are loved.
Small, powerless, wilted and bent
Deprived of sustenance needed to grow
You are beautiful and you are loved.
Feeling the sun, receiving its grace
The wind whispers the secret through
time and space
You are beautiful and you are loved.
Buds unfurling to face the day
Stem stands tall, confidence blooms
She rises up and she knows
She is beautiful and she is loved.
©Christal Hall February 10, 2019
When you start missing him, you need to remind yourself of the torture he inflicted upon you. Someone who claims to love and care about another would not have done what he did. You need to remind yourself that you are worth so much more than the love he chose to give when he felt like giving it as if you earned it for being good, dutiful, obedient.
Suck it the fuck up.
Stop giving away your power. Your tears are gifts that should be bestowed on a man who values the creature that you are, not the one he wishes you to be. When you call him at your weakest moments, you are feeding the beast of his vanity. His voice is your drug. His silence is his weapon. Remember how he has not been there for you when you felt like you cannot do it anymore.
He doesn’t care. Not in the way that you need him to anymore. The man he used to be was an illusion. The veil has been dropped to reveal the man he always has been. Stop serving his ego and start serving your own. Loving, valuing, best friend, these are you and you are these.
Leave his smallness behind to let your greatness bloom. You do not need to shrink anymore. He sought to dull the brilliance of your diamond soul because he was flawed. His hatred of himself manifested in a hatred of you. Weak men cannot handle the strength of women like you.
Love yourself for others to love you. Your happiness, well-being, are all within you. This cannot be found through others. Instead of searching for others to fill you, fill yourself with what you have to offer the world. Your kindness, warmth, power, brilliance – as you radiate out, you will draw others to you. Never let anyone have the depth of power you gave him.
Let go of those who do not feed your soul.
(This was for another assignment for the Write Into Light course I took last year. It was too painful at the time to continue, but I’m now in a place where I can AND the assignments go away soon.)
Divorce sucks. It just does. It sucks whether you want it or not. It is the realization that a promise that you made with the best of intentions is now broken. The future you envisioned is changed. And if you take this journey seriously, you will be changed as well. It will be a painful process, but I firmly believe that if you let yourself feel what you feel, express what you need to express, and work through what needs to be worked through, you will be a better, stronger person. Your life will be one of contentment and with very little regrets for living your life on your terms.
One of the criticisms I often hear is that someone leaving a relationship should not start dating right away. I do think that getting into another relationship right away may be a form of escapism which has the potential of hurting an unwitting partner. I chose to join an online dating website about a month after I asked my ex to leave our home. Getting out there helped me to see that there were others who wanted to be with me, so in a way it was a boost to my confidence. My intent was not to have a relationship with one person, but to figure out what I would want in a future relationship. This could only happen through dating a variety of men.
While dating, I am also working on myself. The damage done during the end of my marriage brought up a lot of trauma that I had managed to bury for many years. This trauma is part of what allowed me to stay for months instead of walking away when the emotional abuse started. If I experience discomfort during dating, I find myself questioning where the discomfort comes from. Every decision I make is mine to be made. Yet there are times afterwards that I find myself questioning how I got into a particular situation.
For instance, I started communicating with one man who I will call Tom. He was a successful businessman who owned his own home, had two older children, and wasn’t looking for anything serious. We started texting each other and things moved to more sexual in nature. I don’t mind sexual talk in texting and think that it is fine between two consenting adults. We decided to meet up. We had a drink, talked and then we had sex. I consented. I wanted the sex as much as he did. Yet, after I left, I found myself crying, angry and sad that I was in this position.
What position is this exactly? I felt ashamed for having sex with a man I had just met. In the moment, I felt no shame. In the moment, I felt sexy and powerful. After the fact though, I felt ashamed. This made no sense to me because I knew going over there that we were having sex, so again, it was a decision I made for myself with full knowledge of what would happen.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. When you are sexually abused, there is secrecy and shame that comes with it. You are told not to tell and you are made to feel ashamed about sexuality. As a young child, I remember feeling proud of my body. I remember stretching in the morning and just feeling glorious wonderment when I would look at my body. That joy of my body was taken away by my abusers. I let that transfer into my relationship with my ex which impacted our relationship over time. I let that impact my feelings about sex and thus let my abusers have control over my sexuality decades later.
The year since I asked my ex to leave has been a year of growth, self-reflection and self-love. I have learned by dating what I want for my future. I have also learned that I enjoy sex. That I can be sexual on my terms. Dating has helped me, despite claims that people should not do this right after a break-up, for me it was the right thing to do. I own my sexuality and will not let my past define my relationship with it any longer.
We all have choices.
I have chosen to fight for myself.
I am worthy of that.
If you cannot be a warrior by my side.
And let the enemy enter the gate,
You have chosen to fight against me.
And I choose to let you go.
A part of my heart has been amputated,
removed by the scalpel of his words,
leaving me wanting for the phantom
of our future that is no longer and never will be.
A part of my heart has been amputated,
it beats differently now, hurt, aching, betrayed,
a desperate want to feel the familiar,
yet knowing the past is no longer and never was.
A part of my heart has been amputated,
beating for what is, resilient, strong
embracing the beauty of my being,
living for now and for what will be. — © January 24, 2019
I got married young. I met the ex at the age of 19 and married him at the age of 20. I can count on one hand the number of guys I dated prior to meeting the ex and I would have a couple of fingers left. That’s how inexperienced I am with this whole dating thing. I guess what I would like is honesty and being realistic with each other. I’ve yet to meet a man who has been willing to do either one.
I’m open to friendship. I’ve been clear about that. I’m open to a relationship with one person. I’ve been open with that as well. I’ve been open to dating other people as long as we are honest with each other – meaning, you don’t sleep with me saying you want to be exclusive and then hop onto POF or some other dating site the very next day. Yes, I’m a grown women who can make my own decisions, but part of that decision making process has to include what the other person is telling you.
I’ve had fun and get my hopes up – I don’t want marriage, but it would sure be nice to have one person to go out and do fun things with. It’s like this constant flux of uncertainty, which I fucking hate. I go in with no expectation other than having a fun date, then it’s like they can sense that I’m vulnerable and tell me what I want to hear. I’m working on having a harder heart without losing what I think is pretty great about me – my optimism and hope, which can be cruelly crushed by people who are there to serve their own egos.
A couple of things I’m doing is refocusing my energy in doing meet-up groups with women. I’m trying to not worry if I don’t hear back from someone when I should. I’m trying not to obsess about checking POF. I’m continuing to talk to other men until I know for certain (will I ever be certain?) that I have a commitment, which for me will include deleting profiles on dating sites – both of us.
I still harbor some anger that this path of being by myself and having to date in order to not be by myself was pushed upon me. Again, I didn’t think I would be single and dating at (now) 53 years old. There are times I need to step away from it in order to give my head and (mostly) my heart a break.