You take back your power when you own your story. In September 2021, I removed myself from my marriage when I saw the toxicity brewing under extreme stress; reactive states to circumstances out of our control, ironically in the capital of happiness, we were deeply unhappy. It is not lost on me that the one time I put my needs first, my husband decided he was done. As I took back my power, the caretaking dynamic shifted and was too unfamiliar to survive our makeshift reality. ‘How did you meet?’ someone asked recently. That’s the biggest clue - under toxic circumstances. Abroad, in a toxic workplace, as I was being bullied by my superior. Vulnerable and distracted, I was aloof to the red flags I had worked so hard to overcome in therapy. Moving in too fast, the love bombing and besotted behaviour. Like a starved fool, I lapped up the attention. He loved me more than I loved my 25 year old self at that point. He would save me from the unbearableness. My blueprint for love was abusive relationships; my first relationship at university had taught me that. I am not immune to the cruelty of men.
Looking back I can see the beginning of the end sadly shortly after we married. The decisions we couldn’t agree on and the manipulation to force a resolution. Compromise is not healthy when one of you ends up repeatedly resentful. The unbearable grief around the recurrent miscarriages and the pressure on my physical and mental health was too much to bear. After all, hadn’t we just survived the extremity of my cancer? The problem was me, always me. Except in fertility, turns out it wasn’t.
We went through more than most couples face in a lifetime together. Relationships rarely end because of a lack of love. I have no doubt we were deeply in love, isn’t that why we held on so tight for a decade? But love isn’t enough and love is certainly not what’s left in the absence. The lack of respect, the online acting out and the angry actions of a man enraged is why I’m happy to be divorced at 36, amongst the pain, the ruin, the hopefulness and the fear. Beneath it all I found the self love and compassion I was searching for. Not in the eyes of another, but in my own, finally.