Sunday, December 3, 2017

Emancipation Day VII

Today used to matter. Today is the day my ex-wife moved out of our home, effectively ending our marriage. I used to think about this day a lot, I used to use it as a time for reflection and assessment of where I had been, where I was, and where I wanted to go. But after seven years, I almost forgot today was the day. I don’t give my ex-wife a moment’s thought anymore. I don’t miss her, I don’t wish she was here, or flagellate over the errors I made. It’s all baked into the cake at this point. 

What I didn’t realize then, and appreciate far more now that I have had 7 years of distance, is how profoundly she damaged me. How much of what I still struggle with, insecurity, low self- esteem, a feeling of unworthiness (of love, of professional accomplishment, of material comfort) redounds back to how she treated me. It was never good enough, *I* was never good enough - I did not earn enough money, or do enough to make her life easier, her drinking problem was not her fault it was *mine* because I was not sufficiently supportive (all lies). I did not know the term “gaslight” back then, I did not know how people who are emotionally abusive behave and how they flip the script on you, but once I did, it all made sense

I also did not appreciate how small my window would end up being for a fresh start. At 40 (when she moved out) it might have been realistic to think I could have a second life, a second wife, or at least a second serious relationship that was committed, mutually supportive, and healthy, but at 47, I feel like that window has closed. Having been on my own for so long now with no help, few friends and no family to provide the support most people take for granted, I have become far less patient with people who come into my life. On the one hand, I’d love to have that support, particularly since the last two years have been particularly tricky with health issues, job uncertainty, and more than one close (medical) call with my cats, but on the other, because I have overcome these challenges on my own, I have no time for people who show themselves unable (or unwilling) to help. I feel like I have a lot to offer but too often that generosity - of support, caring, and affection are taken advantage of - I sometimes wonder whether I have something stamped on my forehead saying “use me.” 

So now, I am focused solely on myself, Pumpkin, and Ghost. If I could will all my money to my two cats I would, but instead, I will leave it all to charity. I will work until I retire and then move to Arizona, spending my golden years taking photos of mesas, canyons, and sunsets, driving around in a convertible, reading books, and having as little to do with anyone as possible. Some people don’t get the happy ending they want, I have come to realize that includes me. 

Follow me on Twitter - @scarylawyerguy


  1. If you think 47 is too old to start over in anything, you’re limiting yourself by someone else’s definition. It takes a lot to overcome being gaslighted in a relationship. Moreover, your trust in people puts up defenses to keep you safe, yet keeps you from having a chance as well. What you have to realize is simple-the trick isn’t getting used to being alone. It’s being able to accept the support of those who care in the ways the can. That’s why every friend, every relative is differently rated in our minds. So stop thinking yourself as unable, think of yourself as learning possibilities.

  2. I am still in a marriage to an emotionally abusive man. Your description of being gaslighted mirrors mine in so many ways. I'm still trying to figure how to get out, given the complicating factors of his extremely bad health & inability to manage on his own, one child that is still a minor, and quite frankly, finances. I am of similar age but I still yearn to start over. I want to be loved for who I am. I realize I'm rambling, but I guess I want to say that I get it.

  3. Hang in there, my friend. I don’t visit as much as I did in the Mad Men days but I check back on you occasionally. Two steps forward and one back is still forward progress.

    1. Ps- loved to see pictures of your babies.