The summer before my ex-husband and I decided to divorce, I sat in a movie theater watching Bad Moms with a group of my best girls. When the main character, Amy, found her husband cheating with an online lover, they had a huge fight, went to a counseling session, then decided to divorce.
There’s a scene where she’s looking at a family pictures, and she’s crying slumped on the floor. Then the next thing you know she meets a hot single dad from school and moves on with her life.
Newsflash: that’s not how divorce goes. It’s not a rash decision; there are a lot of events leading up to such a huge decision. It’s really nothing like the big boom you see in the movies or television shows.
Two months after watching that movie, my ex-husband and I decided to go our separate ways while lying in bed one October night. All of our kids were sleeping in sleeping bags on our floor — something they had just started doing.
Looking back now, I think it was because they sensed the shift in our family — and it’s excruciating to think they felt us letting go and perhaps this was a way of making them feel safe.
Our two dogs were fast asleep; one lying on my legs and the other to my right. It was pitch black and I felt something that was stronger than tension yet not quite as strong as fear surrounding both of us. It wasn’t like anything I’d felt the past 6 years we had been struggling with our marriage.
This was heavier. I couldn’t swallow. I wondered if he was asleep, and then I heard his voice.
“The writing is on the wall,” he said. I knew what he was talking about immediately. I felt too numb to respond, so I didn’t.
“I’ll go,” he said. “You stay here with the kids.”
That was the moment I knew — it had been bubbling and brewing for years; we would try hard, then slack off, then try some more. We’d ignore the big picture and the fact we weren’t happy and wonder if this was the way life was supposed to be.
Arguing turned to ignoring each other.
I’d told him a few times if he wasn’t happy, he could go. Sometimes I didn’t mean it, but sometimes I did.
Then came the sadness, anger, blame, relief, guilt, the second guessing, and the wondering if was really is the end of our time together.
That night I knew my husband was serious about leaving after he told me he didn’t want to go, but he knew he couldn’t stay.
I knew because I shared the same feelings: I wanted him home and our life to be like it had been so long ago when we were happy, but it wasn’t going to happen. And it was time to do something different before we simply could not do anymore damage to ourselves and our kids.
We’d been chasing that life for 6 years unable to catch it. And we were tired.
Deciding to end your marriage takes years and is cemented in a moment, but there is a build up to get to that point. It’s not black and white, but deep down you know, you know, when it’s really over. It just takes a while to find the words.
The night my ex-husband moved out, he sent me a text about how he was missing the kids lying on the floor next to us and the dogs at our feet, but he knew this was for the best.
So did I.
Because through our pain, we knew we couldn’t be together any longer, and neither of us wanted to go back to life that led to our conversation that October night when we were feeling nothing yet everything and needed to move onward and upward from where we’d been for too long.