When I first left my abusive husband, kind-hearted people would often say to me, “Don’t worry you are still young and beautiful. You will find another man and fall in love again.” That was not what I wanted or needed to hear though. I didn’t feel young and beautiful. I didn’t want another man. I wanted the man who I had married to return to me without the mental illness. Now, I knew that couldn’t happen and so I just wanted to find myself and fall in love with her.
Every relationship both good and bad are unique unto themselves. I have one friend who I can honestly say probably understands where I have been because she lived a similar experience. When I married my husband we were so in love. He was my best friend and I just wanted to be with him every minute of the day. We planned a life together and shared dreams. Big dreams. Reality bites and sometimes dreams are crushed. It’s hard when a spouse gets sick. I vowed to be with him through sickness and health and I meant it. I never thought that the sickness would be mental. I never ever thought he would turn it all against me. I had never been abused before. I never wanted to break my vows, but the reality was that my life depended on it.
If you lose a partner to mental illness it will leave you shattered. There is no way around that. For me it was akin to watching Mr. Hyde turn into Dr. Jekyll. Over time Dr. Jekyll came to stay permanently, but the memories and fleeting glimpses of Mr. Hyde kept me praying for a miracle. Years later I accepted that no miracle was coming for our marriage and I left. I stayed too long as it was. I took my heart and wrapped it up for good and put it on a shelf. The divorce was final and that was that. There was no desire left in me for another relationship. I felt like an old woman inside and I was content on surviving and raising my kids. That I thought, would be my life.
Now I know there is at least one person out there reading this who can relate. When you truly fall in love with someone and they disappear on you, that love doesn’t just disappear. You have to mourn and grieve that loss. So when you are in that place and someone tells you that you are young and will find another man it really just makes you want to throw up. Finding LOVE is the last thing you are thinking about. You are still reeling and trying to figure out what happened to the man you still love. There is no love switch to flip on and off.
Life can be so confusing and at times we feel our smallness amplified.
Years have passed since I left my marriage and I have spent that time finding Ella. Not only have I found her, but I love her with all of my heart. It just so happens that in the midst of looking for myself I found love. You know that old saying, “when you least expect it…” Well, that’s exactly what happened. I met a man who became a best friend. I had no idea that I would fall in love. Love? Yes, I said love. He didn’t look like someone I would have fallen in love with, but I did. He was an amazing person and he helped me grow more than I even realized at the time.
We have already established here that life can be cruel. I found love, lost love, found love, and then I lost it again. This beautiful soul that I had fallen in love with disappeared on me…just like that. We didn’t have much time together, but I loved him. He helped me to see that I wasn’t broken, just a little bent. He showed me that I was lovable and that I could love again. Sadly, it wasn’t long after he proposed to me that he left me. Twelve years sober and strong lost to drugs and all from a prescription cough syrup he got for Bronchitis. He fell off that wagon so hard and so quickly that within a month I didn’t know him. Four months later he was gone. Poof…
I don’t feel like I am plagued by bad luck. What I experienced could happen to anyone. I grieved his loss. My kids grieved his loss. Yes it was devastating, but through it all I knew that I was strong enough to survive it. However, this time around when people tried to console me they would just give me a heartbreaking look and say that they were sorry. I mean, what can you really say to this? “Run girl, you are cursed. Close your heart and your legs and leave the love shit for another girl.”
Well, here is the thing. What I learned from loving him was that our love is limitless. We don’t get to choose who we love, we just do. Our hearts are boundless and ready to stretch and be filled up at any given moment (even if we are feeling to the contrary of that). It’s fear of being hurt again, and I get that because that pain is brutal. Through his death I learned that I will never stop loving for it is who I am. I tried to deny it after my marriage, but love was stronger. The lesson here is that just because one person broke your heart doesn’t mean that the next person will. Love is infinite.
For any of you who are out there licking your wounds and hiding behind your fortified walls I want you to know that you are free to fall in love again. You know that you can love because you already have. Just because one person was a bad choice doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself forever for their shortcomings. I have forgiven my ex-husband for everything that he couldn’t help (and it helps that there is no contact with him). I forgave my fiancé for being weak and failing himself (and us). I forgave myself for not being able to “save” either of them, and then I moved on. Yes, my friends I am here to tell you that I am still young and beautiful…and I am in love. I am praying for a long romance, but I know that all that is guaranteed to us is today. So today I will let him love me and I will love him back with all of me.