I’m having a bit of a meltdown this morning. The reality is hitting me that I must file for a divorce and go through with it, but I’m so very afraid. I want to believe that I am strong enough to get through this, but I have so many doubts.
In a perfect world, we could agree to do this in a respectful way, if for no other reason than for the benefit of our children, but I know divorce is never completely peaceful.
I used to never use the word “divorce” when Gil and I argued, but in the past year or so I’ve said it plenty of times, so whether he wants to believe it or not, he won’t be blindsided when and if I go through with it. However, I have not told anyone in my day-to-day world that this is a legitimate possibility. I’ve shared more with a couple of friends who live far away from us — high school and college friends that I only see once a year or so, but even they don’t know everything. I’m at a point where I need some real support from friends who live near me. This is where things get very complicated. Our worlds intersect so much, and we have many mutual friends, and I am so afraid to put this out there to people. My closest friend who is local loves Gil, loves the two of us together, and she has listened to my marital struggles for years, but I’ve held back telling her everything. I have a hard time knowing how much to share. It’s like the cardinal rule when you’re a teenager: Don’t tell your parents all the awful stuff about your boyfriend when you break up, because if you ever decide to get back together, while you can forgive and forget, your parents will hate him forever. I even hold back with my therapist, though I suspect she knows I’m nearing my limit. Even she has said how much she likes both of us as a couple. While hearing good things about the two of us is flattering, it also feels like pressure to live up to expectations. I mean, the reality is that we both have a lot of love for each other. I will always love Gil. I just don’t know how to make a life with him anymore. We want very different things, or maybe we don’t, but we’re really bad at making a life together. I push, he withdraws. He withdraws, I push harder. This was our dance for years, but I’ve been gradually withdrawing since the kids came along. I just don’t have the emotional energy to pull out his feelings so we can hash things out. He’s fine with pretending everything’s okay until I push just enough and then he blows. Honestly, since his dad died, his behavior is downright scary and intimidating, and I just avoid him and his hot buttons. But, this pattern has hurt me tremendously. I’m not a good pretender, and I miss having a partner, and he just doesn’t want to deal with me and anything involving feelings. Plus, he would rather me just handle stuff. There’s no dialogue anymore — not even about the kids.
So, I want to be able to tell my friends point-blank that we’re getting a divorce. I want them to know that I need support but that I will not tolerate them saying bad things about Gil. Is it crazy that I feel this way? Why do I still care about his feelings? I’ve begged him to try marriage counseling, and over and over he’s told me that the only problem in our marriage is me — basically, he feels that I need to change and just be happy the way things are. This is a simplified snippet, but that’s the gist. I just don’t want to live through war. I don’t want to hurt him by making our friends hate him. The biggest thing holding me back is that I’m afraid of what filing for divorce will do to him. I have a box full of coping tools. Granted, I don’t always select the best one, but I feel like I’m more equipped to handle this than he is. Am I emotionally strong enough to handle everything he’s going to throw at me? I have no doubt that he’ll accuse me of being emotionally unstable. He’ll go to his family and throw me under the bus. He’ll dissect every fight we’ve had for them and present himself as the victim. Can I handle that? And, when he does that, can I hold it together and refuse to do the same with him? Gil has made some major mistakes in this marriage, and if I wanted to, I could make this really ugly. I just want peace — and I’m to a point where I realize there is no peace as long as he and I are living under the same roof.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.