Little did I know when I married my then-husband, that he’d divorce me a little less than a year later for this reason, out of all reasons.
We had known each other for quite some time before the marriage. He showed me what love was made of, or so I thought, and I was convinced he was my source of security and a constant I thought would remain forever.
One evening, after we’d just finished having dinner, he told me we needed to talk. He sat me on the sofa in our living room and told me:
“I’m not happy. I have never been happy with you.”
The world spun around me as I failed to absorb what I had just heard from my “loving and caring” husband. I kept asking questions, but I failed to get any real answers. When it hit me that there was no turning back, I collapsed. Reduced to a helpless bundle, I curled up on the sofa and lost myself in a fit of tears.
Pre-marriage, this husband of mine had pursued me until I was left with no choice but to fall in love with him. He showered me with affection like I have never experienced before and he always told me I was everything he ever wanted.
That day, it felt like I was stabbed in the back.
However, I knew there had been something wrong all along, but I couldn’t quite tell what it was. I had always questioned myself if this is what love and marriage are supposed to be like – living a life of servitude and constantly trying to cater to the whims of an unappeasable husband. But, I was no quitter and I am glad it was not me who ended it.
When he tried getting back to me a year later, I knew better than that. I had left this relationship without putting up a fight, and I came out with lessons learned.
1. Never again will I ignore my gut feelings
I had known all along that there was something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had always dismissed all my fears of us not being compatible, of him being controlling, and of me feeling crushed most of the time as mere illusions.
“Goddammit, those were deal breakers!” you may think. But things aren’t that clear when you’re manipulated – when he is your guardian angel as well as your tormentor.
Next time, I hear a “don’t do it!” or “this is not how it is supposed to be!” coming from within, I will listen, because this voice knows best.
2. Change perspective about goals in life
Up until marriage, I thought all I had ever wanted was a husband and a family. After marriage, I realized all the freedoms that I could no longer enjoy, especially that my ex was a control freak.
Mid-marriage, I realized that marriage is not a goal, neither is having kids. They are just alternative ways of living your life. Now, my goals are different. This failed marriage taught me that I knew nothing about people and nothing about myself.
3. Letting go of attachments
I learned to let go. I lost what I once thought was a constant companion. Why would anything else hold through? Nothing is forever.
Now, I train myself not to cling on to anything, be it a job, a person or a plan. I have goals and I work hard on them, but if they don’t work out, I’ll find others. In a way, goals are not ends in themselves, they are means to an end, and that end is striving to make your life and the lives of others better than they are. I can do that in a multitude of ways.
Marriage or any other life situation does not have to be the way to do it.
4. How to forgive, truly forgive
I’m no longer in pain and I am no longer angry and devastated. If anything, I am thankful for having been saved from such a destructive relationship.
Things have happened and new people have come into my life. I’ve grown into a better and more courageous woman and I ought to thank him for all the good he unintentionally brought into my life. I have forgiven his humiliation of me because through this humiliation, I found peace.
5. Never hold anyone accountable for what they say
He promised me everything but then cast me off like an old jacket. I learned that promises are just words uttered by people who are only human. I still trust people, but I don’t wait for them to deliver on their promises.
When they do, I feel good and when they don’t, I no longer get disappointed. I have learned to be more self-sufficient and expect less from others, but still be accountable myself and be there when I’m needed.
6. Leaving my comfort zone
Because divorce seemed like the end of the world to me, I was presented by either one of two choices: spend my days seeking revenge and obsessing over spilled milk, or starting fresh.
I chose to look ahead. I tried new things and made a thousand leaps of faith, and it all turned out better than I thought it ever would.
7. Knowing what I don’t want in a life partner
Owing to my experience of what I didn’t like in my first partner, now I know what I would not compromise in a new partner.
You learn from trial and error, and I have erred big time when I let myself be subdued by someone who was too confused and emotionally disturbed to know any better. For one thing, I will not be manipulated anymore, because now I should know a manipulator when I see one.
8. Quit being a people pleaser
I found out that I was a people-pleaser, and my ex took advantage of that. Towards the end of our marriage, I was all about walking on egg shells to avoid yet another childish tantrum from him. I discovered that I can’t gain someone’s approval no matter how hard I try.
Better still, I found out that it is not important. If they love me enough, they will embrace me no matter what I do.
Living with an insatiable person had me believe that it was my fault all along –that I was not trying enough and that I was not enough.