Now that the divorce is almost over, I am looking back over the hell that has been the past two years.
What I see in some moments is something I never would have imagined.
I see married women, who are in stable marriages with good men, looking at me with that look…the look that says, “I know you are going through hell right now, but I sure wish I had the courage to do it, too.”
Just yesterday, an old friend reached out to me. We exchanged texts about our lives. She is in one of those 25 year plus marriages, like the one I just left.
We have known each other for decades of hers and my marriages. She taught my children in the church’s children’s program. I taught hers in the youth program. We taught in the BSA program and served along side each other as leaders in other programs.
She is one of those small, but mighty, sorts. The kind the kids love because she is about their size…not like me. I always took my heels off so I would be only twice their height.
She is spicy, sassy, doesn’t mince words and has had her share of run-ins with authority figures. I always wished I could have spoken up like she did.
But I couldn’t make waves like that. Nothing was ever that important. To keep the peace was first and foremost, the goal.
My voice had been silenced many years before. I had places where it was useful. But those places were small. They were my home, my homeschool mom community, and the music community in my town. Those were my people.
It’s not that I wasn’t valued other places, but many of those didn’t value what I had to say…just what I could do for them. And I was a do-er.
Before we sent our final texts, she wrote, “You have always been my hero. I have always wanted to be like you and looked up to you. Keep being strong.”
This came as a shock to me. Yes, she has been through a lot. Her marraige has been difficult, I know. Her children are well…children. But she has stuck it out and he is now working on the road, making lots of money. They are comfortable, and she has all the freedom to be where she wants, when she wants…which is usually with her kids and grandkids.
Not so bad, you might say. But what price has she paid for this “comfort”? I thought long and hard about that several years ago and the answer I came to was one that launched me into an inevitable divorce.
I’d like to say that this was the only woman who has talked to me like this. But, it is not. The ones who do, however, are the ones who have been married forever, like I was.
There is this certain tone in their words; this certain look in their eyes. Being an empath, it took me off guard the first time it happened.
It came from a woman I never would have expected it from. As far as I knew, their marriage had been a partnership. They had worked hard together for years, raising their children. She had homeschooled and he had been a good provider.
That was the arrangement they had had. It was the arrangement many of my friends had or still have with their spouses. Call us old-fashioned. But, that’s what we were taught to hope for and live into, if we were to do it “right”.
This special woman told me simply, to my face, “There are a lot of us out there who wish we were as brave as you.”
I actually had to process that one for a while. She had been staying in my home for a few days. She had been there when my propane ran out on December the 20th, after my ex had cancelled our subscription for fill-ups without my knowing it.
She helped me pick up the pieces and move on that day. And yet…she said those words. How could she possibly be jealous…or envious at all?
I know how. Because I was one of those women for many years. I wished I had made different choices. I wished somehow he would go away so the energy drain would magically vanish. I dreamt of the “glory” of being the single mom with all of the compassion and assistance that entails, rather than being the neglected mom of 4 that everyone thought had it all: the cute, intelligent, charming husband and beautiful, smart, thoughtful kids.
Yeah, I was lucky in the kids department. Being a mom was not hard and still isn’t. It’s a challenge at times, but these little ones didn’t ask to be born, so I am taking care of them as well as I can, by golly! We do our best.
So, woman after woman has come to me. Either in person or via text or messenger. Some are old friends, some are cousins, and some are strangers who have been reading my posts here and there.
As shocking as this has been, I am now grateful. I am grateful that I was brave enough, or ignorant enough to take the first step into the abyss.
I have seen and felt the love come in. Compassion and understanding come in. It’s never easy, but to know that others are there, rooting for me, gives me strength to do this one more day.
Maybe someday these women will take the step as well. Otherwise, I have little hope in men changing their game. They won’t ever have to if we always stick it out and wait for another, a better, day. It isn’t magic. My life is living proof of that.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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The post That Look in a Married Women’s Eyes That Says It All… appeared first on The Good Men Project.