You met and quickly formed a strong connection. As that connection became a relationship, a deeper bond formed. You fell in love. You began to think that you had found the person who would be by your side for the rest of your life. You had plans and built a life together.
At some point, cracks begin to form. They aren’t always visible, painted over with discomfort of the idea of being alone or the comfort of having someone that you know so well.
Then 13 years later, the cracks become too large to explain away, too huge to paint over. The life you built and the future that you envisioned crumbles before your eyes. The end has arrived unexpectedly, but it is there, undisputed and completely necessary.
And then suddenly you are alone. Or are you?
That is my story.
I met my soon-to-be ex-wife at the end of August in 2007. I was 16 and she was 17. I was barely even out of the closet to my closest friends and I was certainly not out to my family or the general population. There was something about her though that captured my attention and something about me that captured hers.
Two months later, we started dating. As time progressed and we grew closer, I started to believe I had met the person I would spend the rest of my life with. In 2015, we got married and continued to build our lives together.
Then in May of 2020, it fell apart.
At first, there was a hope that we could maintain a friendship through the separation and divorce. However, it became clear quickly that was not a guarantee. The connection and bond dwindled in the wake of her new relationship.
I don’t blame her for that. It makes sense. A new bond forming will try to overwrite the older ones.
Though I felt extremely alone. The person who had always been my go-to no longer was. The person who knew me on the most intimate and personal levels had left my support system. My world seemed a bit darker and less safe in her absence.
I thought that because I was the only person going through this that I was on my own. That I had to learn to navigate this new world on my own. That I was eventually going to fall apart like my relationship had.
The reality that quickly occurred to me though was that I was not alone.
I was never alone.
My mom and step dad, who go to bed at 10 the latest, answered my midnight call because I was falling apart. My dad and step mom gave me a space away from my apartment and advice on the steps that I needed to take to protect myself. My sister and her boyfriend dropped everything to come over after a particularly rough day. My brother and his fiance regularly checked in over Facebook Messenger, even if just to allow me to watch my nephew run around their basement. My other sister gave me ample distractions by letting me babysit my nephew. And that is just family.
My friends rallied around me, reaching out and supporting me in the darkest days. They let me rant and vent. Some of them told me exactly what I wanted to hear in those worst moments, while others were a calming voice that reminded me to stay level headed, that I only know my own situation. They have gone for walks with me, just sat and talked with me. They have let me help them or dragged me shopping.
Then there is my counselor. She consistently reminds me that I can only control myself and my reactions. She gives me permission to grieve what was lost and celebrate what I have found. She reminds me that behaviours and intentions are not the same thing; that I only see the behaviour and make a judgement about the intention. She helps me re-frame my own mindset in order to give people the benefit of the doubt. She is a voice of reason when my own checks out.
My world is actually brighter than it was before this all started. I feel safe, loved and supported in all the ways that truly matter. My support system had reformed and regrouped to make up for the absence of the largest part. No one in that system is going through a divorce right now, but they are going to be there for me, no questions asked, while I do.
They are the reason that I wanted to write this post. I am not alone.
Neither are you.
Whether you are going through a divorce or a break up, losing a loved one, just struggling through this pandemic, you are not alone.
Your support system may be changing, but there are people who will be there for you. Sometimes you just need to ask. And that can be the hardest part for some people. I get it. Sometimes the hardest part is actually sending the first text or pressing the call button. Just do it because once you get passed that first hurdle, it will get easier.
The time that I called my mom at midnight, I hovered over the call button for about 10 minutes before I actually pressed it. I was worried about feeling like a burden and disrupting someone else’s sleep schedule. When she picked up the phone, the knot in my gut untwisted and I was able to let it all go.
The hardest part was reaching out. Once I did that, the support and the love was there.
There are more people in your corner than you know. Hell, if you are still reading at this point, I am in corner. Even if we haven’t talked in years. No one should ever feel alone, so if I can take some of that burden from your shoulders, I want to help.
Reach out to your family and friends. Find a counselor that you trust. Take some time to relax in those moments with some deep breaths.
I am not alone in this journey and neither are you.