Sara Wilson, Divorce Editor for the Huffington Post, asks She Writers to share the moment they knew...their marriages were over. Share yours here, and don't forget to submit it to the HuffPo contest of the same name by emailing your SHORT ESSAY (no more than 600 words, please!) to email@example.com by Friday, April 1st.
You may also want to attend, or host, a meetup in your town on Tuesday April 5th, where you and other SWers can read your short essays, and give each other courage and inspiration.
AND DON'T FORGET: Feel free to share OTHER "The Moment I Knew (It Was Over)" stories here, even if you were never married, or never divorced. This is a prompt that can inspire us all!
The décor of our therapist’s office made it feel more like a hospital waiting room: printed green carpet, mauve blinds, muted ceiling light. We’d promised our friends, our families, and ourselves that we’d see a counselor before making any monumental decision. And now we were here, sharing a couch, airing our filthy marital laundry to a stranger.
We confessed our faults. We confessed our hurts. We shared every deep dark secret we’d acquired, every moment of weakness. But we did so too calmly. There were no tears, no shouting, no fighting. Looking back now, in the stages of grief, I think perhaps we’d already reached acceptance. There was nothing left to fight for. We were putting on a good face for everyone else, everyone who was afraid of what it meant if we split up. The overwhelming response was shock—maybe because we had moved away, and most of the friends we kept in touch with when we were happy didn’t see us anymore. They thought we were (still) happy. And besides that: we were both educated and attractive and funny. We came from great families. We had graduate degrees. We went to church. We’d adopted two dogs. We bought an apartment. Even the two of us were a little confused about why it wasn’t working.
But clearly, it wasn’t working.
We’d come in that day carrying the smallest torches of hope, but in the back of our minds, we knew it was terminal: the disease had spread. It was everywhere. There was no cure.
We’d come in that day hoping that this woman with three big letters after her name would have the magic words to raise the dead.
She leaned forward and asked, black thick-rimmed glasses perched halfway down the bridge of her nose, “What would it take for you to stay in this marriage?”
He responded without a beat: “I would be fine if I didn’t have to change anything.”
He claimed that he could be fine with this lackluster life we’d been living (lackluster is, of course, my word here). He could forget the terrible things we’d done and said to each other. He’d be fine. Fine, fine, fine.
His complacency was the nail in the coffin.
As we went through the separation and divorce proceedings, I mourned the person I’d once loved: he’d disappeared somewhere along the way in our ten years together (we’d fallen in love at 16; perhaps that was the root of a lot of our issues).
But really, this is what it came down to (like the therapist wisely said when it was just me and her in the room together): it was the old me who had disappeared while he’d just stayed the same. He might have been content, but I never would be. I’d always be searching for someone who was willing to come along for the joyful, wild, messy ride, not someone who just sat around watching TV, waiting for me to come home.
No wonder yours truck a chord with me as well! Thanks so much for reading. It was really the first time I'd thought about "THE" moment. His voice sticks with me.
It's sad there are a LOT of men out there like that...once you start living life more fully, you realize how much they are missing out on! -Amanda
what a great note, BEC,
I have finally written about my experience with my ex-of 10years ago...it opened me up to this same teaching from Yogi Bajahn of The Western Hemishere....Change is what you can count on. He used myself and my daughter as examples for one of his classess...after arriving at the dawn of day to the Yogi's yard in New Mexico where we were led in excersise to the point of exhaustion. As we were gasping for air, Yogi came out and began to yell at people to move in one line or the other. I immediately noticed he was selecting the heaviest of the group together. At that moment he began to yell at my daughter and myself to lift the heaviest one and transfere him to the other end of the yard/field. As we raced to grab him we somehow communicated by action who would get the legs and who would get the chest.
We raced with his body across the yard and when we came back He told us this is what you can expect, Change.
I am moving in with my daughter soon, I am feeling like we can handle it
The Moment I Knew It Was Over
I was young. Twenty-one years old and two months pregnant. Fortunately, the white dress I had bought months before at a hippie store had a high waist and my barely rounding belly wasn't obvious. Fortunate because, although all the parishioners knew (I think), it was a Church and most of us were pretending that the birth of this child would be premature... seven months after the wedding. Who could foresee the nine-pound-monster-baby that would make it hard to believe in a wedding night conception?
Friends and my mother - all of whom had begged me not to get married to this man, some of whom (my mother) had begged me to consider an abortion - hastily put together a sweet and simple wedding and reception and endeavoured to be happy for me.
My best friend, having lived beside my fiancé for all of her life and all of his, was considered the expert on the match – after all she'd introduced us – although, “not for that” she would protest. She counselled kindness and carefully chosen words, “You know how stubborn Caitlyn is. If you say anything against him, she'll just try harder to make it work.” It was true. I sometimes wonder: if I'd been listening to myself instead of reacting to others, would I have shown up for the wedding?
As it was, I considered my wedding day jitters normal. I dressed in my hippie dress, even wore a slip to please my mother, and borrowed some strappy high heels from my best friend's mother. The best friend who was my best woman and sang at the ceremony. My other best friend baked and iced the beautiful wedding cake. Looking back, I wish for more planning time so I could have included both best friends and my adorable fourteen-year-old sister in the wedding party. I would have checked the groom's attire. He wore a grey suit and tie, his long strawberry blonde hair free and flowing down his back, running shoes on his feet. The twist in my stomach to the runners was replaced immediately with the satisfaction that my mother would disapprove. No thought that I also disapproved.
Later, floating through the reception in my mother's living room while a few relatives and family friends and my closest pals offered congratulations and advice I think I was in post-ceremony shock. My main memory is the cake. At some point, I removed the borrowed shoes and changed into jeans for the driving honeymoon.
Dad's wedding gift was the loan of his camperized van for a week. We were heading to Oregon where a Christian cult would refuse to let us sleep together in the van on their property. Of course, as we left Mum's and walked to the van under a hail of confetti we didn't know this. We were full of hope for a blissful future, including our visit to the Christian rock band - or at least he was. I was still numb. Numb until I slid into the shotgun seat, unrolled the window and then slammed the door closed.
The slam broke through and, instantly, I knew I'd made a mistake.
In spite of three years of best efforts, I knew my marriage was over when the van door closed. The public acknowledgement just took a little longer.
I have a busy weekend it’s a friend’s Hen party and while I’m really looking forward to it there is an underlying nausea it is causing, maybe it will be okay but maybe it won’t. This feeling of uncertainty is how I live my life. I hear the car on the gravel, the engine stops, footsteps, and then the door opens.
A man enters my home, he glares at me but remains silent I know this is not good and my heart is racing. He kicks the chair away from underneath me and I land on the floor he is calling me a slag, a slut and a whore. I’m starting to panic I can’t run or escape my children are upstairs, I can’t leave them and I don’t know what to do. I get up and try to find somewhere safe, I’m trying to keep him away putting furniture between us but he is following me and I’m running out of places to hide, He is yelling but I don’t hear what he says. He is getting closer and closer and then he has me, he puts his hands around my neck and he starts to strangle and shake me. The terror is running through me, all I can hear is the thumping of my heart, I don’t know how violent this will get and I want it to stop. He throws me to the floor with such force I have hit my head before I even realise I’m falling, I hear the dull thump as my skull hits the tiled floor, I’m dazed I want to yell for help but the only ears are that of my children and I’m scared what will happen to them and to me if I shout. He has the mop and he is hitting me across the stomach and kicking me in the legs, he is yelling that he hates me and that he wants to throw boiling oil in my face. I manage to get up but as I did it he found a knife and now he has me by the hair he is banging my head off the wall, my eyes are closed, I can’t look, he is brandishing a knife, and telling me that he wants to kill me.I would like to be able to tell you this man was a stranger, that he can hurt me because he does not know me, that he can behave so appallingly because he wants to steal from me but I can’t because this man is my husband. I can say however this was the last night I ever spent with him in that house and that my life is happier now and moving on.
I am sure like most relationships you don’t realize that it is unraveling until it fully has…like a bad scarf that was not tied off correctly, my marriage did just that. Unraveling before my eyes and I trying to fix it, or tie it back up, not realizing that I was the only one working on this marriage.
I knew it was over when my husband had his “mid life” crises at 36. When he came home from work and stood in the kitchen and told me that he had talked to his parents and they agreed that he should quit work and live off his investments. Now, I don’t know which should have bothered me more that he wanted to just quit/leave his job or that instead of him talking to me, his spouse, that he was talking to his parents and making decisions with them first and not me.
But like most women, I tried to save the marriage; we sold our home and moved. We had a baby and over time, I breeched conversations about having a passion or vocation for over 2 years. He was very content and very comfy in his “Man Cave” life.
The arguments started over baby clothes and spending too much money on food. “Can’t you just buy him shoes 2 sizes too big?” (Coming from a man with 20 Million in assets/cash in the bank). And like a fool, I took back the shoes to Target and started to shop at Goodwill. Always fixing and tying off.
After Marriage counseling failed, (more fixing attempted, definitely not getting that one tied off!) due to non participation by my husband. A large gift deposit one afternoon of all the anniversary, birthday and I’m sorry gifts he could think of displayed on the kitchen table, I knew, that it was all too little, too late. “I so wished that over the last year you had done or given me any of these things, but, giving them to me now, it is truly too little too late.”
As I looked at the scarf that was our marriage, I realized that it was so unraveled that no amount of tying off was going to mend what could not be felt in another person’s heart. It was time to make some decisions and I made them. We separated immediately February of 2004 and were divorced by August of 2005.