Yesterday was probably the hardest day of my life. Everyone's had shitty days, and I (hopefully) have more days ahead of me so I don't know for certain that it was the absolute hardest, but if something nastier is coming, I don't look forward to it.

Yesterday, my wife and I filed for divorce.

I have written about my marriage before. I can't say the marriage has never had its good moments; it has. But the bad times have always dominated over the good times; there just weren't enough good things left to make trying to save the marriage worth it.

My wife is a very strange person. I honestly believe she grew up in a very strange environment, not so much "raised" by her mother but tolerated by her. She has grown into an adult with a clearly warped concept of both reality and of cause and effect. The result is a person who will lash out in anger at the slightest wrongdoing, intolerant of any failing or frailty in others, while almost entirely ignorant of her own.

This writeup isn't a bitch fest, at least not about my wife. Almost more for myself than for the benefit of my fellow noders, I'm writing this one to sort through, and describe, all the monstrous thoughts swimming through my head. I apologize, in advance, that I do this first in pursuit of clarity for myself and not for the enjoyment of Everything2's teeming millions. I think, though, that this journey for me is one that a lot of people take on their own, and never take the time to explore properly, and never seek outside help in getting through. It may be of academic interest to somebody, somewhere, to read what this statistic thought, experienced, and felt throughout the destruction of what had been the most important force in my life.

...and remember, if you get sick of my whining and gratuitous introspection, there's a few million other nodes to go read...

Why Do This?
There's a lot of writeups about divorce on Everything2. A lot of them are well-written. Many of them are "getting to know you" nodes, but that's okay -- divorce is, by its very nature, a very intimate, personal event. When I first realized Monday, January 12, 2004 that it was finally time for my marriage to end, among the countless things I read were the many nodes here about divorce.

I can't explain exactly what I was looking for. I have often contemplated divorcing my wife, and have studied the process at great length. From this long-term research I've gleaned many lessons, including things like "nothing can prepare you for divorce," "divorce is expensive," and "divorce hurts like hell." I knew I wouldn't find any "magic bullets" that would make a divorce magically easy here, but I think I was hoping to find it anyway.

None of them helped.

There are plenty of outlets available for people going through something as critically stressful as a divorce, but they are all finite. There are friends, coworkers, family, and much to my surprise, even complete strangers. However, I have learned over the years that even those who love you most have their limits, and it's never wise to be a leech for too long.

To be honest, I don't know whether that's really true -- that those who love you can someday stop -- but it seems that way to me. My parents have always loved me, and that isn't in question. My wife may have loved me at some point, but I'm not entirely sure of that either. She's very emotional; I'm sure she loved the stability I offered, the endless patience, the decent income, the escape from her mother, and the ability to stay sane even under the worst pressure, but I'm not sure she ever loved the person who brought her those things. I know I love her, and probably always will. It has never felt like it's been returned, though.

It'd be nice if I were wrong on that count ... some day, I hope to be proven wrong.

Anyway, back to explaining why I'm writing this. I've realized over the past two days, but most specifically right after we'd signed the divorce petition yesterday, that divorce is probably pretty close to death in the area of "mourning." I've been working so hard on getting this divorce started and on protecting myself from my wife's varied but always insane response to the divorce, that I haven't taken any time yet to really work through the emotional and mental shit that I need to work through.

This writeup is a part of that. I'm writing all this crud to help sort it out in my mind, to hopefully ease some of the pain, and maybe even help somebody else who's going through something like this. I write here, instead of continuing the non-stop whimper-fest I've subjected all of my friends, colleagues, and family to over the past week. Everyone has been supportive, caring, and helpful.

They deserve a break; it's time to rant and rave to someone else for a bit.

Before I delve into the whining too much, I want to say to anyone who knows me in real life and is reading this, please don't be offended, angry, sad, upset, etc. These are the feelings I've been trying to come to terms with in the past few days without realizing it, and now, they're forcing themselves up to make themselves known. Nothing here is anyone's fault (except my own, and my wife's). The logical part of me recognizes these will go away, but right now it doesn't feel like they will, and this all adds up to what's going to be an impossibly painful experience.

I'm scared.
I don't know what the coming days, weeks, months, and years have in store for me. Of course, I never did. But now, I'm afraid of it.

The coming days will be awkward, then upsetting, then maybe even violent. My wife does not want this divorce. She has repeatedly threatened to try to stop it any way she can. It won't stop me from leaving, but I'm terrified of the pain she may inflict upon me as she tries to stop me leaving.

After the divorce is filed and granted (that's assuming it is), I face the challenge of pulling myself together enough to leave it all behind. I will climb into my car, with my belongings, and just one of my cats, and strike off towards California on my own, never to come back to the home I worked so hard to buy.

I don't know what the future holds for me. Very special people are waiting for me in California, and I believe they care about me a great deal. I belittle their kindness and compassion by saying I'm still afraid of leaving it all behind, but it's true that I am.

I'm weak and vulnerable.
I've become increasingly aware as this week has rolled on that I'm slowly crumbling, growing weak, and becoming more and more vulnerable to smaller and smaller things. It doesn't take as much to rattle me, movies don't have to work as hard to jerk a tear or two, and arguments with my wife that would normally end quickly drag on and on because I can't cope with her as much anymore.

I'm lonely.
We moved to Las Vegas because we loved it. I think that remains true today; we both love it here.

Yesterday, though, as I found myself walking alone amongst the gamblers and tourists in the Strip's casinos, I suddenly realized how lonely everything is here. Perhaps it's just me; surrounded by tens of thousands of people who don't know me, don't care about me or what I'm going through, etc., left me feeling so empty and alone. I do have friends and family. My mind knows there are people out there who still love me. It at least hopes there's at least one. But all of them are very far away. Phone calls and e-mails and instant messages help, but it's not the same. My wife always had someone to turn to when it turned bad for her.

It seems now that my reward for always being the pillar she could come to is that there's nothing here like that for me. She's got her own problems, and for once is starting to try to take care of them. She doesn't have time for me. Right now I face at least two weeks worth of struggling just to escape this situation. I have to work very hard, stay strong, and fight back all of this just to reach a point where someone who cares can even do anything to help. They all talk to me, for as long as I need to, and it's great. It's the only anchor I have right now, and the only thing stopping me from just ... stopping entirely.

My wife threatens me every day that she's just going to quit. Just curl up in her bed and die. I know she says it to try to scare me into staying; if I stay with her, she won't die. I don't think she realizes how much I really want it all to stop, every day. Each night in bed, I daydream about what it'd be like to sleep forever, never wake up -- essentially, to die.

Now that my marriage is ending, there will be no family. At least not with this woman. So many things remain undone, and will now never be done. And when I am lying on my deathbed, who will be there by my side now as I shrug the mortal coil?

I'm angry.
I'm sure everybody says this, but it really is almost all my wife's fault. I'm angry at her for forcing me to leave. I'm angry at her for all the other men she slept with (yes, we were swingers, but it wasn't those partners that bothered me; it's the ones she sought without me). I'm angry at her for all the times she hit me, threw things at me, or broke things I cared about. I'm angry at her for the suicide attempts she made. I'm angry at her for the bills she ran up.

Most of all, I'm angry that I worked so hard on this marriage, and worked so hard with her to make her life better, only to have all that effort be wasted. In time, she will meet someone else, and pursue a relationship. To him, she will not be the same person. She will have learned from her mistakes in this marriage, and adapted. He will experience the woman I'd always hoped she would be for me. He will not have earned it or worked for it. But it will be his, and his alone. To him, I will be the evil asshole husband who "abandoned" her at her most vulnerable and ran off to chase his childhood.

Come to think of it, I'm angry at her for thinking that about me, too. Whether by choice or by lack of comprehension, her inability to understand what abuse she has subjected me to and why I must avoid really hurts me. I'm angry that she thinks I'm just running away to try to relive my fonder childhood memories. I don't need to; I can still remember them.

I'm hurt.
This separation and divorce thing hurts more than anything else has ever hurt in my life.

I've already lost my primary job; granted, opportunities have presented themselves as they always do, and people are bending over backwards to help me (one person, in particular, is helping more than can be properly expressed, and I fear I may never be able to properly repay such kindness).

I've lost a good amount of my income. I'm losing my house. I'm moving away from the town I dreamed of living in. I'm losing my wife, and an eight year relationship is ending. Four of my five cats are living with her, one with me.

The house of cards I slowly built up over the last few years has crumbled, leaving me with very little.

Ouch.

I don't know what to do anymore.
Well that about summarizes all these other feelings and thoughts, doesn't it? I just don't know what to do with myself anymore. I'm going to keep going, because there's nothing else to do. I'm going to finish the divorce, gather up my things, and go.

I'm on automatic now though; it's as if the rest of my mind is working on other crap. It doesn't seem very keen on talking to me about any of it either.

I have never been comfortable opening up and telling anyone what's going on inside. Hell, this post is pretty gutsy for me.

It feels hopeless, like I will never heal from this. I suspect I will, eventually.

One thing I know for sure: I desperately need to completely fall apart, lose all composure, and completely surrender to somebody. Then I need someone to help put me back together. I'm scared that I'll never find someone willing to go to that much effort. I'm even more scared that if I do, I might not have the courage to open myself up that much, to be that vulnerable, to let someone help.

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