People will ask me how I am doing these days. I usually just say “l’m fine.” It’s been more than 4 years since I discovered my husband’s betrayal. We divorced 2 years ago today. I should be fine by now, right? And I am fine. But fine doesn’t mean what you think it means…
“…in a satisfactory or pleasing state; very well.”
For what I have been through, and where I have been, I am doing fine. Sort of. It has been worse after all. Being fine it seems, is a relative term.
I thought my perfect life was fine. I thought my perfect marriage to the perfect man was fine. I was just starting a new business that was going to be more than fine. Our children were fine too. We were all doing well at life. I felt we had made it. After all the trials and struggles in life, we had made it. Retirement and a life of bliss and church service was just around the corner. Life was more than fine, life was good. We were living downtown in a fancy apartment, hubby was driving a nice car, we had two Harley’s, and a good job. Life was just fine. I was in denial. I’m not anymore so that makes it fine, I guess.
Son was about to enter his last year of college. He was taking finals when his life exploded that left him unable to finish school. He just lost his drive. That’s fine, right?
Daughter #1 was the mother of 4 small children who was navigating her new role and feeling overwhelmed with life, but her Dad’s choices left her fine, didn’t they?
Daughter #2 was starting a new career and living on her own after years of struggling with her own disabilities. But she was going to be just fine too, right? How could all this devastation possibly derail her?
Then our lives blew up. All of our lives blew up. Not just mine. Our children suffered at least as much betrayal as I did, if not more. But in the fallout, I was shattered so badly I couldn’t help my kids, no matter how much I wanted to do so. They say when you are drowning in the depths of the sea or on a plane careening towards the earth that you have to save yourself first and then go back for the kids. Put on your own life vest first, or put on your own oxygen mask first. It seems like a good idea, in theory. In practice, not so much. I never knew what it would be like to be so broken that all you could think about was your own survival and how much it would hurt to watch you children struggle and be able to do nothing to help them, while the parent who caused the damage just runs away from the scene of the devastation.
I am fine now, because at least now I can be somewhat helpful to them. I can do things for them, finally. And that is important because I’m all they have for the moment. Dad has dug himself in so deep with his children that he may never find a way back to them. His choices left everyone with hardly any choices in response except to be estranged. Anything else isn’t safe. But we are all fine.
I hope my kids will be fine. We think we will all be fine, eventually, but at what cost? Almost nothing in life for the last 4 years happened like we thought it would. While our perfect lives were being blown apart, so were our dreams. Not just once, but over and over again. Just as we would get our footing, some other bad choice was being made for us and our lives, while we had to stand by helplessly and watch and pray for a miracle that never came. It was a struggle for any of us just to get through the day without dying inside. But we are fine, we are all still alive. The dreams we once had are gone. But we are here. We’re fine.
We all struggle to make ends meet in every way possible. So we do what we have always done, we rally together and support one another. Sometimes I help out, sometimes I can’t, so the kids pitch in. It’s what families do. Sometimes I feel like I am the one being helped more often than not. While the Ex drives a fancy sports car, lives in an expensive apartment downtown, this time with someone else, she rides in my spot on the back seat of what used to be OUR Harley, and he goes out doing all the fun things with his “wife-stress” he used to do with us. We have been replaced by a better model, she must be, because he didn’t even bother to fight for us, he just walked out of our lives without even a backwards glance, so he must be doing fine too. He doesn’t give us, or our lives, a second thought. How does he reconcile any of this? Yeah, he’s just fine.
I would tell you how all of us are doing just fine now four years later. But it doesn’t sound fine to most people when you say it out loud. We are fine by all outward appearances now, and that’s what matters most, doesn’t it? The watered down version for public consumption is that we get up everyday, we go about the day in much the same way we used to, and we have developed new dreams and goals. The difference now is that there is a very big hole where our hearts used to be, and it is covered over by a very tender, very large, somewhat healing, scar. But we are all fine. We are not on emotional life support anymore. Healing is happening. Finally. Slowly.
All my life I have been able to dream in sleep. Very vivid dreams. I used to be able to recall at least one dream a night most of the time. Then after the discovery of my husband’s affairs I stopped dreaming. It was as if there had been this whole inner life of beauty, fantasy, and imagination one day, and darkness the next. I was to learn later that my brain couldn’t process what happened to me, which was one reason I developed PTSD. It seems my brain couldn’t process it in sleep either. So the dreams just disappeared. Something else taken from me. Last night, I had my first real dream in 4 years. It was horrifying. Now I know why I wasn’t allowed to dream, my brain was protecting me from myself.
Like most dreams, not everything makes sense, dreams are spoken in the language of symbols and are usually a metaphor for something that is far more significant than it appears at first glance. We dream to process the events of the day. For the first time in 4 years, here is how my brain was able to process the madness of what can only be described as a sociopathic act…
I had just found a taxi to take me home, from what must have been a trip because there was luggage. We were heading down the beautiful palm tree line coast towards home when all of a sudden there was a traffic jam just minutes from home. I could even see my house from here. We were the first car stopped in the traffic jam. So I had a front row seat to what we were all about to witness. I looked up from the back seat of the car to see my house begin to slide off the edge of the cliff it was built on. It was a gorgeous house, perfect in every way. Large and beautifully landscaped, with a view I had longed for all my life of the beach and the crystal blue ocean below. It seemed to be my dream house. I sensed that it was something we had worked all of our lives to build together. But it seemed to be on rollers. Easily moved. And it was moving now towards the edge of the cliff, ever so slowly. As the house was sliding towards the edge of the cliff the outer wall gave way to reveal my children inside the house. They were scared and clutching each other, I couldn’t tell for sure from how far away I was from them, but their body language told me they were sobbing. I screamed for someone to save them! “Please save my children! Oh God! Do not let them die!” As I was screaming, emergency vehicles suddenly appeared out of no where, and they all seemed baffled about what to do. Nobody seemed to know who, or what, was causing this disaster, which kept them all paralyzed from knowing where to start to help. My children were terrified. Finally, a hook and ladder fire truck lifted a fireman up to them from below. I was relieved as I saw them being rescued! But as he was loading my children on to the ladder to save them, more of the house was now being pushed over the edge on top of them, burying all of them alive. I was crying hysterically at this point. I tried to get out of the taxi but the doors were locked and I was forced to watch what happened next as friends, family, and neighbors all came to help save my children and my house. Everyone who tried to help was either driven over the edge by the moving house or buried under the rubble from below. My husband was nowhere to be seen. Was he missing? Was he in the house? Did he die in this disaster too? I kept trying to get out of the taxi, my hands were now bleeding from the attempt. I watched helplessly as each and every person who mattered to me was buried alive by my house as the last wall went over the edge on top of them. When the dust settled I saw my husband standing at the edge of the cliff with his hands on his hips. It was so chilling to that he would do such a devastating thing to so many people. I just stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds and then I passed out.
I startled awake with tears running down my cheeks. It was the first time I had cried in my sleep for over a year. And then following wakefulness, came the familiar pain gripping my heart that I had felt everyday for at least two years. I thought I was having a heart attack again. No. It was only my heart breaking in two…for the millionth time.
Then I remembered it is the 2nd anniversary of the finalization of my divorce from him. It’s funny what the body remembers when the mind would like to forget. I don’t know if I love that my dreaming has returned. But I am grateful. it’s a sign that healing is taking place. It will be interesting to process this dream and trying and figure out what it all means. I am sure you can probably guess some of it. At least my brain is finally healing enough to process the terror I have felt over the last 4 years. At least my brain thinks it’s safe enough now to dream and to process. I have, at least healed that much. Maybe that does mean I am fine after all. At the very least, I am headed towards “fine” so maybe when someone asks me how I am, now I can say, “I’m fine,” without feeling like its a lie.
To celebrate my healing, I think I will have a cupcake for breakfast. And that is fine!
Stay Strong! Be Sweet!