A year ago today I had a significant moment. I blogged about it (of course) here. It wasn’t incredibly dramatic, but it was the beginning of the end… The moment when my heart finally started moving on from my abusive relationship. It was a turning point, a reclaiming of me. That day was one of the first times I stopped reacting and engaging with Chris when he lied. I started to, but then stopped myself. Instead of yelling or carrying on or crying, I calmly told him that his continued lying was unacceptable and that we would not be sharing a room that evening or anytime in the foreseeable future, until I felt safe with him again.
Over the next few days, I took care of myself. I had a massage. I got a tattoo and a nose ring. I stopped fighting against the truth that he is a liar. That’s what he does, and it is what he is. I wanted the lies to go away, but began to realize that they wouldn’t as long as he was still in my life. So I started moving on by myself, emotionally. I planned things just for me, I went to therapy, I went shopping with friends, and I started realizing that I’m worth it. I contemplated my life and what I wanted, and I started making choices with those things in mind.
During that time he threw temper tantrums. There’s no other word to describe it. He whined about me to everyone he could, including his therapist. He made me into “the bad guy.” He didn’t like that I wasn’t engaging anymore, that I wasn’t rewarding his bad behavior with my attention. He actually threw a fit that I’d gotten a tattoo and piercing, even though I had discussed both with him for weeks beforehand, because I didn’t get exactly what I originally was considering. He couldn’t stand that I’d DARED to make a decision about myself and my body without his say, without him being there. Which is hilarious considering all he did with his body without my knowledge while we were together. Things that could and did affect me, unlike my choice to put something sparkly on my nose and some pretty ink on my shoulder.
Although the thing we called a marriage continued to drag on for a few months after that point, when I look back and try to pinpoint the moment where I started to really change, this day a year ago would be it. That is when I finally accepted that I have no control over him or his decisions and started making healthy ones for myself instead. One year ago I chose not to live the way I had been living. He made the opposite decision – to remain in his negative behaviors and patterns, to continue lying, to keep making excuses for himself, and to keep blaming others. I simply began to realize that those were his decisions to make, and that it would be his loss when I kept moving forward and walked right out of his life. Or rather, no longer chose to have him in mine.
Today I still don’t have the piece of paper I’m craving that officially severs our legal bonds. I was really, really hoping to by this point. I tried to remain realistic about how long the process would take. My lawyer said it should be 2-4 weeks from the date Chris signed the papers until the date a judge made the final decree. I mentioned here that my county only has one judge and he only handles divorce cases on Friday. So I always kept the one month figure in my head as the most likely scenario.
Unlike how long he took to sign everything for the deposition, when it came time to sign the divorce papers I kept texting him daily until he did it. I got the letter from my lawyer at the very beginning of June (around the 4th or 5th) that it was done and in the hands of the courts. I was ecstatic because I’ve been planning a vacation in early July for months. I thought that because it was submitted to the court before the first Friday in June that my odds were good to be divorced before I left. The 4 week mark (the longest estimate my lawyer gave me) would be the end of June, hopefully putting that decree in my hands at the beginning of July.
Last week I got a letter from my lawyer. I nearly stopped breathing. I thought it was THE letter. I thought that the final dissolution of the marriage would come from the courts and the county, but I was hopeful nonetheless. Instead it was a letter from my lawyer saying that their part in the process was finished, so they would be filing my case away shortly. Hoping that meant they knew something I didn’t, I sat back and waited for the letter from the county. Now, several days later (and the last one before I leave on vacation), I still don’t have it.
I have to admit that I’m pretty disappointed. Not that it matters… not that it makes a big difference… But I really, really wanted to be completely and totally done with him in every way before I left for my vacation. I wanted this to be my first “official” vacation as a single woman once again (actually, my first vacation as a single woman, period, because I haven’t been single for more than a month or two since age 15). Sadly, it doesn’t look like I’ll have that piece of paper in my hand.
That doesn’t mean that my divorce from him isn’t completely final in my heart, though. If there’s anything this last year has taught me it’s how to accept the things that I can’t control. I’ve had many, many opportunities to do that, and I’m starting to get good at it. Or at least passable. I certainly can’t control the pace of the court system. I can, however, choose to be happy and satisfied despite my disappointment. I can choose to still consider this vacation a milestone. And I can look back with satisfaction at the journey that this last year of my life has taken me on because I’ve been true to myself. I’m mastering change, not letting it master me.