Updated: Sep 13, 2022
If you would have told me three years ago that I would have to go through another divorce within two years of the first one I would have asked you to shoot me right then. How could I possibly survive going through that twice?
All I can say is the heart is more resilient than we know (or maybe even want). You find out that you can break in more ways than one. You find out that the heart is a multi-faceted crystal and when one section gets hit with a sledge hammer and shattered there’s more sides that can be broken off and shattered, and despite all the broken pieces and cracks everywhere that damn thing still continues to beat—whether we want it to or not.
It’s not a fun thing to learn, nor is the pain something I would wish on my worst enemy.
I didn’t want to be here. When I wrote my last post all those months ago, while separated from my second husband, I honestly knew where it was headed. We weren’t going to make it and I did not want to face the truth of it. The pain of it.
I go back, as we often do when we’re trying to process a failure, and ask myself what went wrong, what I did wrong, he did wrong, what can I do differently if I’m ever psychotically unbalanced enough to even attempt another relationship, (eh-hem, I mean, healthy enough…).
I know it will take years and even then I’ll probably never fully understand. There’s probably a whole bunch of Freudian reasons for why we couldn’t figure out our crap and make it work. All I know is I’m doing something I never wanted to do again… grieve a broken marriage.
Rebound—bounce back through the air after hitting a hard surface or object
Why is this the term we use when we reference the first relationship a person has after divorce?
It feels so inaccurate. I hate it. I hate hearing it. “He was just your rebound.” Like that somehow wraps the painful mess in a pretty little package I can set on a shelf and forget about and move on because it wasn’t a “real” relationship. It was just a “rebound”.
Excuse my language but I call bullshit. 100% certifiable bullshit. I could fertilize my lawn with it.
Rebind—to bind again
Almost the right word. Closer… It could be the word I would call the first relationship after divorce.
I was broken when I met that man who would be my second husband. Unrecognizably broken. I did not know the woman in the mirror anymore. I was a book with no binding. The structure that had held me together had been torn to shreds, my pages scattered, some of them completely destroyed. I no longer knew my story, everything was messed up, confusing. I didn’t know how to exist without another person.
Then he came. He was an unbound book as well. We were both seeking something to bind us up, make us whole, give us purpose.
I clung to the distraction he offered from my pain, from the work I needed to do to heal. He was better than morphine, he was tangible. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted.
With time the need I felt for him did turn into love. I fell deeply, truly in love with him. It was unhealthy, addicted love to be sure, but love all the same. The heart can’t really tell the difference, especially when its fractured.
I genuinely cared about him. I wanted it to be something good. I loved his children with my whole heart and wanted desperately to be what they needed. I hoped—despite the pages constantly revealing we were not succeeding as a couple—I still hoped that we could somehow rewrite the truth, change the course of our story. That I could be the wife he wanted and he the husband and partner I longed for.
But no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t blend the pages of our books into a story of our own. The characters refused to line up. They could never come together on the same page. The storylines we each desired were not going in the same direction… and they never would.
But here’s the thing no one tells you about moving on after a rebind. After you have given so much of your heart to something that would just be another failure…
Love isn’t something you can turn on and off.
I love chocolate and I do accept that it isn’t good for me (especially in the amounts I consume it), but it doesn’t stop me from loving it—whether I should or not.
I recently watched a ted talk on grief and grieving. The speaker made the statement that you never move “on” in the way that it implies—that you just forget the person and go about your life. The truth is you learn to move “forward” accepting that the person is still a part of you, just no longer tangible. This feels more accurate.
It was necessary for our relationship to end. It was not a healthy relationship and it would never have been. But despite the peace I feel over its necessary end I can’t just move on and pretend never happened. Because it did and it changed me forever. If I am to truly allow myself to grieve and process and move into my future I have to accept that the experience will forever be a part of me, a part of what has made me who I am and who I continue to try to be. I can move forward but not on.
He was my rebind. Call it trauma bonding if you want. He was there as I scrambled to hold my pages together while I built the cover for my new story. A story, that I accept he will not be an active part. I have peace with it, but I have also had to accept—in order to move forward—that a part of my heart will always have him and his children inside it. I did love him. I love his children and I always will. There are days when the ache still takes my breath away. I can carry them forward with me into my new story, but as a memory. A lesson and a reminder. No longer tangible.
Love should never be labeled with trivial terms like “just a rebound”. Love that has been lost has a right to be grieved. Even if it was time for that relationship to end. When they say “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”… I am inclined to ditto Agent K in Men in Black when he frustratingly replies to this comment, “Try it.”
To lose love, to have it “end”—even when necessary—is the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I never want to go through it again. Ever.
As I stitch together the binding of my story, with the help of God alone, I do it with a wounded heart and a reminder that relationships aren’t rebounds or even rebinds. They are almost always made up of love, nothing more, nothing less. Just because love sometimes isn’t enough to make those relationships salvageable or even healthy to stay in, doesn’t change that fact that they are love and it hurts—sometimes unbearably—when it becomes necessary to let it go.
Three years ago when my first marriage ended my therapist encouraged me to not date for one year and to spend that year healing, focused on getting to know myself, and treating myself the way I wanted to be treated. Three years ago I had no idea how to be alone and I was desperately in need of validation of worth. I didn’t take her advice and I’ve paid the price, so have many people I love.
This time when my second marriage was ending, I chose differently. I took my broken heart to a support group and joined a 12 steps program for codependents. I got a sponsor and made some incredible recovery friends who understand and love me for me—broken heart and all. In the months since my separation and finalized second divorce the voids in me have been, and continue to be, filled by God, my Higher Power, instead of distractions that keep me from facing my truth and actually healing. I feel no desire to date or look for another person to validate me or make me feel whole. I am happy in my own skin… all by myself.
This time, I have been strong enough to do what my therapist recommended and despite the pain and the grief, I am finding peace and hope while being alone and putting my focus where it should be. I feel more balanced, content, and happy comes more often… I do not exist in the dark abyss that captured me after my first marriage ended. It’s a little gray and not entirely light but there is hope instead of despair.
I am alone but I’m not in the least bit lonely. I am healing a little more every day.
I am surrounded by people I love, my children, my friends and family and its all I need right now—maybe ever.
I am caring for myself for the first time in my life and I feel good about not being in or seeking out a relationship.
Back in April I took my first solo trip—or what I like to call soul-trip. I drove 15 hours to the Oregon coast and while staying in a cottage on the beach, I learned to trust myself.
Just a few weeks ago while walking the streets of Italy, surrounded by history and culture, I learned it’s okay to choose the life I want and be patient for it to happen.
Sitting here, in my own little space, I give myself permission to hold everyone I love and have loved in my healing heart as I move forward a whole and changed woman ready to write my new story—a story that I am determined will be filled with hope, happiness, peace, and true joy.