Divorce, perfection, and recovery?

It’s been a while since I got divorced. Ten years? It was certainly a life ago.

I think about what my life would have been like if I stayed married. The thought doesn’t last long because I’m certain I’d not have made it. “Unalived” is what the TikTok algorithm accepts.

I’m breastfeeding Georgia, and writing this on my phone. I see my blonde haired, blue eyed daughters twirl around me. Del rubbed my feet last night, and took care of our household when I got glutened today. I have the most boring, domesticated, uninteresting life – and I enjoy that tremendously.

Yet I was feeling this twinge of anger about the past, as the anniversary of my first marriage twirled around. Not jealousy, and I certainly don’t miss whatever that life would have been. I still felt guilty that I never pressed charges, stopped him, or spoke up sooner. If something happens next who is to blame? It feels like a bad person got away with something terrible.

I talked through my sadness with my therapist. I shared the history, the trauma, and where I’m at today.

“But if he never apologized, and if he hasn’t changed – he has to live with himself.”

I’ve lived with this thought for a few days. What is it like to live carrying the weight of many terrible things? Do you hate yourself, hate everyone else, or just live indifferent to the world? What would it be like to not care about anything?

That felt overwhelmingly empty. My greatest joys in life are the people I love, and the people I share my life with. But then I moved to the next step in my path.

“When did you know it wasn’t going to work?” my therapist asked.

“I knew the moment he proposed. But I just kept going because I was worried if I didn’t I’d let so many people down. I was just trying to be so perfect.”

I struggle with perfectionism. I believe that if I fail, am too difficult, or cause too much trouble – I am unlovable. I try to stay small, be self sufficient, and come to people only after my problems are solved. This has created a ridiculous amount of overachieving. If I am great at everything, I will get approval – right? President of this, VP of yadda, yadda, volunteer of the millennial.

How lonely is that? How long have I lived trying to hold it all together, when crumbling would be so nice for a change. Let some other over achiever deal with it, right? The world is burning from so many things. I’m exhausted from COVID, four years of terrible politics, people that deny inequality, and so much more. Wouldn’t it be better to share that grief together?

I diverge from this point. Anniversaries have passed. I’m trying to examine my own life. This recovering perfectionist is trying to start falling apart. There’s nothing to get right in this season. I’m getting away from leading the group projects, and just want to ride on someone else’s coattails. For now, I’m just want to exist for a while. I’m just going to spend some time falling apart. Want to come with me?