Part of my process going through divorce has been to examine the words and actions leading up to “irreconcilable differences,” with forgiveness as my end goal. In the beginning, that meant obsessively analyzing every aspect of myself, Voldemort, and our relationship — and I couldn’t imagine any forgiveness of him.
For a while I simply blamed him for the mess we were in.
As I got some distance, I tried to look at what I did and didn’t do to see what my responsibility for the divorce was. It takes two to tango, yes?
I kept coming back to threads from long ago and, with the passage of time, seeing how those threads continued and looped into everything else. Early in our marriage, we both would go out separately with friends occasionally. There were a couple of times that he stayed out all night, but always with an explanation (sometimes it was even plausible): “I’d had too much to drink and didn’t want to drive. I slept in my truck.”
Once: “We saw a hit and run accident as we were coming out of the bar and stayed to talk to the police. I don’t think the pedestrian made it.”
Occasionally: “Ask (my friends) if you don’t believe me.”
I took him at his word, probably because I knew nothing inappropriate was happening when I went out with my friends, therefore it must be the same for him.
I trusted him.
I had small suspicions, but dismissed them. I didn’t want to be that jealous, clingy wife. When I was pregnant with kid #2, the small suspicions coalesced and I became almost certain he was having an affair. I confronted him and got the standard cheater response, “Are you crazy?”
No, I’m not. And you didn’t answer the question.
I asked him to go to marriage counseling. He refused.
And that, right there, is where I feel responsible for the divorce. It’s where my regret lives.
It’s the point in time that I now see I had Choices-with-a-capital-c to make. I could’ve pushed the issue and insisted we see a therapist. I could’ve gone to a divorce lawyer. I could’ve kicked him out.
But I didn’t.
I checked out. I stopped asking for the love and validation he so clearly wouldn’t give me. I learned how to be a single parent while I was still married because he wasn’t interested in being a dad to our children.
I just shut down emotionally.
So I still sometimes wonder, what if I’d…done something differently? Would the outcome have changed?
It doesn’t matter, of course, because I don’t have a time machine. But sometimes I still wonder if I had it to do over, would I do it differently?