I remember lying there believing that I couldn’t feel my arms and legs. My mind flashed to my Army medic training. “Shunting,” I thought, “cutting off blood flow to the extremities, the body’s response to hypovolemic shock.” Shock. Ha. That was an understatement. But was it really so shocking? I mean we were so young and we got married on a whim. We’d been fighting for months. Or maybe years. But didn’t we just have a great Fourth of July? We made the neighbors so mad shooting off giant fireworks. I rolled over and sobbed these deep, heaving sobs into my pillow. His breath was easy and regular next to me. He was sleeping. How the fuck was he sleeping? I cried myself to sleep with my last thought, before the relief of unconsciousness took me, being, “It’ll be better in the morning, it isn’t really over.” But it wasn’t better in the morning, and I packed a few things in the bed of a pick-up truck and I took what little cash I had and my little girl and I went to my mothers house two hours away.
The pain of the next few months is indescribable. I’ve never been so angry, hurt, and hopeful all at the same time. I tried to focus on the good things, I tried to be a good mother through it all. I tried very hard not to let my redneck show. I failed at all of the above. I spent months in the crushing humidity of a late Kentucky summer gutting and remodeling a little house my dad owned. There was something purifying in the sweat; something liberating about the destruction of the old in preparation for the new. But still I ached. Not being one to let things go, I moved on to the anger phase of grief. I vented online, I vented to friends. I cried to Momma. In fact, my poor Momma should win an award just for listening because knowing Momma she was dying to let loose any number of judgmental comments and “I told you so’s”. But she didn’t. She just sipped coffee on the screened-in porch in the mornings and listened. Occasionally she would quote a Miranda Lambert song I had excitedly played for her months prior because it reminded me so much of our relationship by saying, “It’s not my broken heart honey.”
Then I started digging. I needed justification for the utter destruction of the life we had worked so hard to build and the “I’m just not happy” excuse wasn’t cutting it. I’m thoroughly convinced Homeland Security should hire scorned women with a military background to gather intel. We can and will find the information. Man, did I find it. And still, I ached. Was I really that pathetic? Did I really lack self-respect to the point that I could forgive him messaging another woman an hour before I had even left on the day we said goodbye? Could I seriously forgive him inviting yet another woman into our bed while I was at work? Or leaving our daughter home alone to go and have sex with that same woman while I was at work? I couldn’t possibly be entertaining the idea that he was right, that I drove him to it? Could I? I was. I just wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to be able to eat, and sleep, and not take antacids three or four times a day because my stomach churned constantly and I was afraid I’d get an ulcer like my Mom. I didn’t want to go back on the anti-anxiety meds I had worked so hard to ween myself from. I mustered every coping skill I had learned, every self-help mantra I had repeated in the past, but it was to no avail.
So I tried hard to forgive him, and he tried so hard to convince me that he wanted me to. But it was always there. Every time we kissed, or made love, or spoke about anything prior to the day I left our home to come to my mother’s house, it was there. An all-encompassing blanket, suffocating any hope that we could ever be the same. The churning in my stomach, though less, was still present. In the end I couldn’t forgive him.
Divorce is never like ripping off a band aid. In truth, I haven’t even filed. It’s been almost two years, I still haven’t filed. I’m leaning toward filing sometime before the end of the month, but I have to admit I still love him. It’s not that I’m still hopeful we’ll be together. I don’t want to be with him anymore. I can finally say with confidence that I am happier, and that I have moved on, or at least I am moving on. I sincerely love my life the way it is without him in it. I think writing this is the final step to letting go. I could lie to myself and everyone else about some “freedom” I gain from “letting go” and forgiving him “Not for him, I forgive him for me!” Take your new-aged hippie shit and cram it. I don’t walk around thinking about it, it doesn’t hurt anymore. But forgiveness would’ve meant that my marriage was saved. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. I don’t forgive him. I’m OK with that. I’m OK going through the rest of my life not forgiving him. It doesn’t mean I hang on to it, it just means that if I’m truly honest with myself, that’s how I feel. Not angry, not hanging on, not hurting, and not forgiving. Just because you don’t feel one way about something, doesn’t mean you feel something else in its place. It’s called shunting, and it’s the body’s natural response to shock. That part of my past has become an extremity I do not need to survive so the natural response was to cut if off and move on. But forgive? No. That does not come so naturally to me.