I didn’t know my marriage was over until it was over.
It was falling apart for years, but I just kept trying to pick up all the pieces and glue them back together. In the end I’m not even sure who left whom. It was long, messy, and painful. The only thing harder than feeling your heart shatter is to watch the heart of someone you love doing the same thing.
I loved him right up until the bitter end. I still love him, as the father of my children and someone with whom I’ve shared so much of my life. But it wasn’t a healthy situation for anyone involved. I did not go down without a fight – I fought so hard for so long. I was consumed by the fight to keep us together. Letting go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
I let go of my marriage; I let go of everything I knew. I let go of my home, of my family, of my identity. I was drowning and when I finally found shore, I didn’t know where I was. For so long my identity was tied to others: I was Ryan’s girlfriend, Ryan’s wife, Isabel’s mom, Abby’s mom… I had no idea who I was without any of these things.
My first few months on my own were a struggle. I was living completely on my own for the first time in my life. When my children were with their dad, I felt so lost. I felt empty and alone, with no idea of what to do to fill my time. I had an anxiety attack every night my children spent away from me. My youngest had a lot of medical issues at birth, and even at a year and a half I was still checking on her multiple times a night just to make sure she was breathing. But if she wasn’t with me, how would I know if she was alive? I tried to fill my time with distractions, which if you’ve read my blog was maybe not the healthiest way to survive.
But I did survive.
And now, I feel more myself than I ever have. This year has truly been a year of healing, of self-discovery, and of self-love. Yes, I am Isabel’s mother. I am Abigail’s mother. I am Ryan’s ex-wife. But I’m also Bri. I love to write, and read, and play guitar, and sing at the top of my lungs. I love to go for long walks until I get lost. I love to spend time with my friends, the same friends I spent years being told didn’t like me. Guess what? They do like me. And I’m starting to like me too.
As I grow more comfortable with myself, I am becoming more comfortable being alone. If my kids are gone for the night, I don’t need to seek company. I’m enjoying my own company. I’m doing things that are solely for me. I’m taking improv classes. It won’t help me become a better mother; it won’t help me become a better assistant. But it’s fun and I’m enjoying myself and you know what? THAT is helping me become a better mother.
I am so happy right now. Really, truly happy. A happiness that is not dependent on another. I’m not happy because someone called me pretty or because Isabel had a good week at school. I’m happy because I like my life. I am proud of myself for getting out of a bad situation. I am proud of myself for setting a positive example for my two young girls. I am proud of myself for knowing my worth and refusing to settle for less.
This past year has been one of the hardest of my life. I started this year as a timid caterpillar, convinced that I would never become anything more. But I’ve emerged on the other side of this chrysalis of change, and I’m a fucking butterfly.