How I Survived My First Divorce

With all the changes in our personal life that we made in the course of our marriage, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on where I was at before, which is really not much different than where I am now. My marriage did change the way we relate to each other in a major way, but we have so much more in common than one could imagine.

For most of my 20s I struggled with the idea that we needed to grow up. I don’t believe we do. And, yet, I grew up in a time and place where divorce was commonplace and life was very hard. I didn’t believe in either of them, and that’s why I didn’t understand either. This realization wasn’t without its frustrations, but I believe it was a catalyst that helped me evolve to the future.

I began to question whether or not the decisions I made in my 20s really made sense in the grand scheme of things. I realized that many of my decisions were based on a romantic notion of myself: I was a man who understood and was very passionate about women. What I learned was that this was not exactly how it worked in the real world. The real world does not revolve around me, and I started to question whether or not I was even a man anymore. My wife and I made decisions based on how they were going to affect the other, not what we wanted them to happen.  This concept got buried very quickly, because I became very involved with the other.  

In my early 20s, I loved my wife more than I loved myself…and, I guess, for a while, she loved me more than she loved me, too.  I still loved her, but I grew to love her more than I loved myself.  That is how she knew how to love me.  I couldn’t possibly compete or be compared to her. 

There was also a time when I became obsessed with the idea that I was in some sense “the man.”  This was not because I was trying to prove that I belonged in the world – I knew I didn’t – but because of what it felt like to be the center of someone’s attention and their attention.  At this point I needed to be the center in order to be truly at peace. To be completely at peace, I wouldn’t need to “be myself”.  I would just need to be myself.  I would just need to be who I needed to be and just be me, the great man of my imagination.  

I would later realize this was not realistic, but when I realized this, not being the center of someone’s attention really scared the hell out of me.  I was afraid I might actually “be myself” and not be “the man” and not be “the man” of my dreams. So far, I hadn’t done anything to prove that “being the man” was something that I truly wanted.  I was afraid that, without trying, I would just be a failure. So I kept trying hard, tried to please her, tried to please myself, but the more I did, the more I realized that I was “the man.”  At least the idea of being the man would be reassuring to me.

But when my wife and I decided to marry this individual, the idea of being the “man” of my dreams didn’t actually occur to us.  We just wanted someone to care for and have as a husband – but we had not done anything to ensure that we were the ideal husband and wife – at least as far as I was concerned. Because the idea of being the “man” didn’t occur to us, we never “gave our hearts” to this individual because we just didn’t believe in “husband” or “wife”.  

I didn’t want to just change the names and become a different person.