The Airing of Grievances

Buh-bye!

I enjoy the show, “Seinfeld” and the “Festivus for the Rest of Us” episode. I decided to take a line from that show and have my own “airing of grievances”.

I’ve been processing the end of my third (yes, third) marriage for the past several months. I tried, for so long, to keep it together. There were so many times I told my husband I felt there was “something” that kept him from being close to me; that I felt second-rate in his life. He constantly denied it. There were so many arguments. He always told me something worth having was worth fighting for – yet he didn’t put actions behind his words. In the end, he realized he prefers his own gender, yet to this day, cannot (or simply won’t) see how it affected our relationship and his inability to be the partner I thought I was getting when we married.

Since living on my own, I’ve done a great deal of reading. I realize now he is a narcissist. Every article I’ve read about narcissism should have his photo next to it. The more I read, the angrier I became – at him and myself. I knew I wanted to leave five years ago. I didn’t because: a) I’m stubborn and did not want to be divorced three times and b) I already disrupted my son’s family life once and I wasn’t going to do it again while he was in school. I felt robbed of those five years. The more I gave and tried to change things, the more he took and didn’t give anything back.

So, I decided I had enough. I’m done with trying to figure him out. I’m done with wondering “why”. I’m done with feeling angry. I’m done grieving for “what could’ve been”. I decided to “air my grievances”. I wrote out every sadness, hurt, anger, resentment about that man and the eleven years we spent together on strips of paper. There were over 120 strips by the time I finished. I wanted to get everything out so there’d be no more energy spent on him.

But, what to do with all these strips of paper? I burned them. I invited a friend to join me. She wrote out her grievances and, in her backyard, we set them on fire in a metal planter. I wanted to do it one-by-one, but quickly realized that’d take much too long! 🙂

It was satisfying to watch the paper curl as it burned. Once the grievances were ashes, I burned sweetgrass and sage to purify the air of negative energy. The grievances are now beneath a layer of “positive” ashes. I’m going to add topsoil and grow plants. New plant life for my new life. Every time I look at it, I’ll be reminded of the action I took to put the past hurts behind me and look towards the future. As my new plants grow and thrive, so will I.

I Do…For Now

Here I sit, a week before Valentine’s Day, thinking about the “connection” theme Vanessa and I chose for this month. One of the most significant connections we make is with a life partner…or in my case…partners.

You see, I never did find my “one and only” life connection. Unlike my parents who were married for 53 years, I have a history of “I do…for now” marriages.

My first marriage happened two months before my 21st birthday. We met at university, dated for two years, and got married the same week I wrote the last five finals of my Bachelor’s degree. At the time, I made vows to love and cherish for the rest of my life – and meant it. What do we know when we’re in our early twenties? That marriage lasted 5 years, though it was over shortly after the first two years. My husband decided to devote himself to piano studies at the detriment of our marriage. I now tell friends, “When your husband buys you a dog to keep you company, go directly to your lawyer.” A dog can’t fill the void created by an inattentive spouse. However, it did spawn a life-long passion with dog training and competition, and for that I am grateful.

I met Husband #2 online. We chatted for a while, started to call, and eventually met in person. We clicked. Within a year, we had bought a house and moved in together. A year after that, we were married. Again, I said “I do” in front of a (much smaller) group of friends and family – and meant it.

There was a twelve year age difference between us. It wasn’t an issue when I was in my early 30’s and he in his mid-40’s. It became an issue when we adopted our son a few years later. While we had many similarities that grew and developed our relationship early on, our ideas about how we wanted to raise our son were different. I wanted to be outdoors, active, and experience new things. He was content to sit at home, watch TV, and read. I wanted us to provide a life of experiences for our son. He was happy to have me do it on my own.

That marriage lasted 12 years. Once more, I hadn’t found my life-long connection.

After the second marriage, I didn’t want a relationship. I started to online date again and developed “friends with benefits” connections. This worked for me. I was happy on my own. I had my home, my son, and companionship when I wanted it. Over time, one of the FWBs turned into a dating relationship, which turned into co-habitation. This time, I didn’t want to get married. I was happy living together. However, he’d had a common-law relationship and wanted a marriage. In the end, I acquiesced.

The cracks started to form after a couple of years. I was determined to make this marriage work. After all, it was my THIRD marriage – I HAD to get this one right! We’ve discovered we were together more for my son than for us. He wanted to be a dad, and I was (subconsciously) looking for a dad for my son, as his had moved away and wasn’t a daily part of his life. Despite my best efforts, we weren’t able to function as a married couple. At some point, we will divorce, sell the house, and go our separate ways. For now, we are fortunate to have the space to have distinct living quarters so we can continue to enjoy our home, yard, and neighbourhood.

Which brings me to my current relationship. Have I finally found my life-long connection? Who knows? What does “forever” mean after three failed marriages? The series of “I do….for now” is done. There will be no marriage for us. We love each other too much to ever want to feel beholden or trapped. Our relationship is based on what we feel for each other in the present. As much as we’d like to think what we have will continue to grow and sustain, we can’t be certain. All we have is “…for now”, and for now, that’s enough.