I never thought I would write a blog post on this subject, let alone the fact that the post be about my personal experience. If you are someone who believes strongly in marriage and family, like me, divorce is something that is unimaginable. When I got married 10 years ago, I never imagined my spouse asking me for a divorce. I thought that being married meant that come what may we get over the hurdles and mountains together and keep going. However, things don't always work out as we imagined they would.
I met my spouse at my workplace at the time. He was actually my boss on a project and was in the midst of purchasing a home with his then long-time girlfriend. I was single and we became friends quite quickly while working together. One evening during an after work cocktail party, he hugged and gently told me in my ear as I was leaving the bar, that he liked me. I was in shock and didn't know what to say, I think I told him he smelled nice. On my way home I didn't know how to place my thoughts in regards to his proclamation. He had a girlfriend, what about her? Did I like him back? The next morning I woke up to an email from him explaining that he is in a happy relationship and he is not sure how these feelings for me came about, but they are there and he is not sure what to do with them. I told him I was not sure what to make of all of it and that he needs to figure out things in his head. I was single after all, with no responsibility, but he had a responsibility to be truthful to his then partner.
As time went by, we became pretty good friends and one day he came into work pretty upset. He pulled me aside and told me that he left his girlfriend and he wanted to try to pursue a relationship with me. Again, I was in shock. Wow, he must really have strong feelings to make that decision, I thought. So, I accepted and we started seeing one another. Low and behold a year later, we decided to get married. I moved into his home a year before our wedding. Things from the beginning were sometimes rocky and his temper would often fly off the handle quite easily. I became uncertain many times about the union, but I always gave him the benefit of the doubt. Knowing that in his heart, he was a kind and generous man. His friends would also always reassure me.
As our years of marriage went on we both changed quite a bit. We got older and started to like different things. We began to argue more often about frivolities. We decided that perhaps solidifying our relationship by having a child would help us. We didn't realize at the time, that kids don't solidify relationships. We underwent 2 in-vitro treatments in the hopes of conceiving, but both were unsuccessful. The time spent together during the second treatment really tore us apart in a big way. Both of us said some things and did some things that really left a mark on the other person. As a result, we both began to bottle up our anger. Mine would come out in nagging sessions and his would either explode in temper tantrums or do the complete opposite and make him extremely distant. At this point I lost my job on top of everything. I was, unfortunately, part of a massive layoff and I was pretty devastated. Luckily, I had a year's severance pay and so I decided to start working as a freelancer. My spouse was very supportive agreed to let me try working from home and so I began getting contracts.
Enter Oreo. Oreo came into our lives during my period of Employment Insurance. Little did I know the effects he would have on my freelancing career. Oreo slowly became part of everything I do and working with him made me so happy. Things with my spouse were still up and down quite a bit and bottled up anger still flew around in different ways. After a few terrible outbursts, I decided to ask my spouse to go and see a marriage counselor. The counseling sessions were difficult at the beginning and he didn't really want to go, but in the end he did a lot of talking which I think was good for him. We decided to work on things as best we could. On my end, things seemed to start getting better. We were arguing less and I was putting more time on my work than ever.
Even though we were arguing less, something else was different. As time went by we got further and further apart. Neither of us wanted to make the first move in approaching the other one and so we just became more distant. The more distant you get, the less you talk, so of course there are no arguments. He had his things, I had mine and we both did things separately. After a while it sort of felt like we were just roommates. In my head, I just kept telling myself "It's a phase, we are married and things will get better when they are meant to get better." I now wish I had looked at things differently.
When the words "I don't love you anymore" were spoken (or texted in our case), my heart exploded. I had so many feelings rushing through myself and I didn't know how to control any of them. I blamed myself for everything and slowly my whole world came crashing down on top of me. At first, I tried to talk with my spouse and ask why he is no longer in love with me. The responses were difficult to hear. I asked if we could work on things and he just kept saying "I don't know". I didn't know what to do. I didn't want a divorce. Days went by with the "I don't know" answer until finally he said the words "I want a divorce". I could see he was not happy but I didn't understand why. I though it was just a phase, the distance between us. For him it was something else. I did a lot of thinking after this and I read some information online. I was determined at the beginning to fix things. I got a book called "Mend The Marriage", and read it hoping to find some strategies. This book blew my mind. Reading that book really helped me to realize all of the mistakes I made during the 10 years we have been together. It made me realize that I need to be a better person. I had been so angry for so many reasons that I kept hidden inside. They would come out in nagging sessions that really hurt my spouse. Regardless of what he did that made me angry, it was my decision to behave in the ways that I did and I needed to take responsibility for that. So that's where I am now.
These past few weeks have been very hard. I am scared. At my age finding a new job that will support me will be extremely difficult. Where will I go? What will I do? I have cried so many tears that I have none left. After it all I take a look around me and I see my pets, my cats. They are my rock, they are my strength. It's amazing how they can sense things. Since this whole ordeal began they have been by my side every moment of the day. They have helped comfort me in so many ways. My cat Onyx has been sleeping in the guest room for the past week or so. It's almost as though she knew I was going to move in there, and I have. Yes, it's so sad and yes, it's so scary but with my pets here with me it seems to take a bit of the hurt away. When I get into bed at night the cats all pile into the room. It's like a big warm hug telling me things will be OK. Yes, I still have hope that maybe my spouse will change his mind, but even if he does not I will be OK.
Unlike humans, pets can show an enormous amount of unconditional love. No matter what we go through in our lives our pets are always there to comfort us and let us know we are loved. They can make even the toughest situations all that much easier to get through. I don't know what will happen in the coming months but I do know that my pets being there will help to give me the strength to get through anything.
For anyone going through something similar, it's important to stop blaming yourself. Putting blame on yourself or your spouse won't help the situation. Nasty hurtful words may fly during this time that are out of sheer anger. Don't allow those things to put you in a stagnant place. Keep moving and keep pushing ahead. LOVE YOURSELF during this time. Let yourself know that it's OK to make mistakes, be responsible for those mistakes and make changes in a positive way for your future. And if you have pets... let them love you!
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. - Serenity Prayer - Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
Tina Modugno is a children’s illustrator from Canada. Tina loves all animals, kids books and cartoons! She currently resides in Quebec with her husband and four cats!