The One Question That Healed My Heart After Divorce: 'Did You Feel Loved By Me?'

by Rachel E. Bledsoe
Originally Published: 
couple having problems in their relationship at home

I didn’t understand our divorce. Today, a year after my 17-year relationship ended, I sit daily with a multitude of unanswered questions. They stem from my insecurities. These questions can range from doubting my every thought to tearing down my intuition, my heart, the way I love, who I am, and the basic underlying foundation by which I choose partners. Maybe I never knew him. Maybe he changed. I allot myself some grace. There isn’t enough sugar to coat the facts.

The one remaining fact I can’t change is that my marriage died. A friendship ended. It died long before a divorce decree. It died an unnatural death with more tears and heartache than I had ever felt. It died with me never feeling good enough. Always striving to be loved. It died with loneliness and being ignored. It died with resentment, because I chased my dreams. Sometimes, death comes in forms of transitions and change. It comes when we outgrow people. Death comes with situational changes, and the hurt, the loss, is still the same.

I have spent time with my reflections. Looking back and reconciling the parts where I failed. I chase dreams to the bitter end. I work continuously, because hard work pays off. I dive into self-sufficiency and rely on the strength I’ve always known. Maybe it wasn’t a partnership; it became me always writing the next piece. Ignoring problems which probably should have been a bigger priority. And we can question the support I received. I question this often. Do I carry immense blame? Absolutely.

There is gratitude in witnessing my faults. Accepting them for the places I fell short. Two people came together, and two people let a marriage fail. I don’t play the blame game beyond these points. It’s a game without end. It’s a game constantly resetting itself in the past. There is no healing to be found in pointing fingers. Even when I know a few point back at me. Blame is centered around the ‘you,’ but I am concerned with only the ‘me’ now. It is my sole responsible to heal myself, especially after burying my marriage. After death comes mourning. Along with the mourning comes grief, anger, shock, disbelief, hurt, and finally acceptance.

My fingers wrote the question in a text to my ex. Then I erased it, and I sat the phone down. I thought, what does it matter? What will the answer to the question change? But, for me, it changed everything. The answer mattered to me. The answer said everything about me as a lover, as a wife, and as a partner. I wrote the question again, and hit send this time.

Did you feel loved by me?

Six words. Six words determining if I failed or succeeded in keeping the vow I promised many years before we buried our future. An answer to these six words meant that I had either kept my commitment or that somewhere I had fallen short in what I had promised to be. If the answer was “no,” then I should look inward. I should look at the way I showed my love, at the expressions I used. I should, perhaps, adjust my affection and criticism. The answer to the question would tell me whether I needed to change the way I loved.

I know my answer to this question. I never felt loved. It always felt like a chase. Like a carrot on a string in front of my face. My legs kept running for years, trying to get the carrot. They walked and walked, never getting even a nibble. Obtaining love felt like a game. Like an end goal. Even though we had the family, the home, the marriage, and the friendship. We had all the things which gave the outward illusion of love. But within my inner self, it felt empty. Did I know before I walked down the aisle? Yes. But I thought our love would eventually fall into place. I realize the absurdity in this now, in writing how I hoped his love would find me. Love is either there or it is not.

Still, I loved. And the answer popped up on my phone. The reply to my question. The answer to “Did you feel loved by me?” is and will always be for him a “yes.” I stared at the word. I processed what it meant. There are no winners in divorce, only losers. However, I finally gained some peace in the wreckage. A life boat where I can grab with assurance as I float seeking my refuge in the uncertainty known as my new life. I found my answer.

Answers have reconciliations, and even the smallest word can offer closure. He’s never apologized for the end. For the really crappy, miserable days leading into dissolution. Yes, I have apologized. Owning my wrongs is my job. It is my accountability to recognize where I have failed. I should admit my failures. I should be sorry for them. I should acknowledge the hurt I caused and work on fixing myself for my future.

His answer reminded me that I have power only over myself. It is not my responsibility to fix or be anything more than myself. I have absolutely no power in how others treat me, but my innate gifts come directly from me. I have power in myself and with my love. I am capable of giving and showing love. This is what I promised to do from the beginning, and I kept that promise. I loved another person with my whole heart. I loved them with the best my ability. I made them feel loved by me. When my love wasn’t enough, I walked away.

All the blame I had placed on my own shoulders melted away in few weeks. I allowed myself to accept the answer. I allowed healing to come into my broken heart. I did my best. Sometimes, in certain situations, your best will not be good enough. But you have to remind yourself that your best is good enough for you. There isn’t any power greater than the one we have inside ourselves.

When I am sad, when I want to replay scenarios and heartaches, I look at that text. I know I did my best. I did all I could do. I shake off the internal negativity and I ask myself, “Do you feel loved by you?” This is now the only answer which matters to me. If I can give my love to someone who I never felt loved me, then I can give the same love to myself.

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