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  • ericaanne

I Wanted a Divorce

I've been delaying this topic for a while. It's hard to talk about for a multitude of reasons.

Before I go on, I want to make it perfectly clear that I didn't actually want a divorce. I loved the Nick I knew. But the Nick I was seeing wasn't the man I married. The love for the person I remembered was a big reason I didn't want to leave. I just wanted my husband back. But, he wasn't doing the work he needed to do... and it was straining our relationship. This wasn't the life I wanted to live.

"The man you married? He's gone," Nick would tell me. It seemed like he had completely given up.

I was reaching the end of my rope. I didn't know what else to do. I was practicing tough love. I was trying to get him to do the work, but I was finally recognizing that he was the only one who could actually do it. Only he could bring himself to recovery.

The problem, it seemed, was that I wanted it more for him than he wanted it for himself.

We were fighting constantly. We'd both throw words at each other that nobody should throw at their spouse. It was ugly. It scared Daisy a lot of the time. I'd sometimes find her in a corner shaking from how loud we were yelling at each other. I cried myself to sleep every night. Daisy would lay next to me, putting her head on my shoulder, trying to comfort me. She'd try to sit at Nick's feet, too, as he went to play video games.

I had never understood how someone could leave a person who was at their lowest low... Until I walked the path myself. At some point, it feels like you're faced with the choice of choosing yourself or losing yourself. When it feels like you've done everything within your power to help them, at some point you start to recognize that choosing yourself might be the only reasonable option. That's what I felt like I was facing.

I started threatening Nick with divorce.

"Go for it! At least then I can play my video games without anyone nagging me about it! I'll live in a trailer and play video games for the rest of my life!" he'd spit back.

I didn't want to watch this anymore. I didn't want to witness his complete deterioration, knowing I couldn't fix it for him, and continue fighting with him about it every day.

There were several factors stopping me from going through with it, though. The first three were logistical. The last three were emotional.

First, was COVID. If COVID hadn't been going on, I probably would have flown back to Canada for a weekend to clear my head. But we were in the depth of lockdowns and we were flat broke. I couldn't afford to get a hotel room or AirBnb for a weekend away, let alone a trip home. The border to Canada was closed and all flights suspended indefinitely anyways. And as a result, my family couldn't come visit me, either.

Second, in the earlier stages of considering divorce, I hadn't yet received my green card. I only got my green card after shutdowns were in full-effect. If I left the country before getting my green card, I wouldn't have been able to return to the US and my green card would have been rejected. If I left the country after getting my green card, I was worried I'd get stuck at the border because of travel shutdowns. I needed to be completely certain of my decision before I crossed any borders.

Third, what would I do with Daisy? She's a pit bull mix and she's illegal in the province my family lives in. I wasn't about to leave her with Nick; he could barely take care of himself. Plus, I couldn't stand to abandon the one living being who was physically there, helping me through it. So, I started looking up other areas in Canada where she was legal if I did leave.

Fourth, I couldn't get this thought out of my head: what if I leave and that triggers Nick to commit suicide? I wasn't sure I would be able to bear that outcome. Even though I logically knew that would be his decision and not mine, I wasn't sure I'd be able to forgive myself if he did.

Fifth, I loved my husband. I wanted the man I married back. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with that person. I just didn't know where that version of him had gone.

The last reason I think I didn't go through with divorce was this: I knew he could do it. I don't know how else to describe it other than I knew, deep down, that he could do this. I knew that he could get through this. It was a gut feeling.

I called my mom sobbing one night, feeling tortured by my dilemma.

"What do you want to do, hon?" she asked.

"I want to run. All I want to do is run," I replied through sobs.

"You know we'll support you with whatever decision you make. We do hope, though, that Nick does get better because you know we love him, too."

I wanted someone else to make the decision for me. I so desperately wanted someone else to make this decision that I started asking all of my close friends and family what I should do.

During the initial COVID shutdowns, my friends back home arranged a Zoom call so we could catch up. When it came my turn, I started with, "Well, I may not have been the first of us to get married, but I might be the first one to get divorced."

I shot into the whole story, updating everyone on how hopeless things were beginning to feel. I was hoping that one of them would tell me what to do. Hoping that one of them would make this impossible decision for me. But they, too, knew they couldn't make this decision. Much like my mom, their responses were different versions of, "we support whatever decision you make."

And truthfully, even if someone had told me to divorce him, I probably wouldn't have listened. I wouldn't have listened because it wasn't what I actually wanted.

The fighting, stress, and confusion continued for another two months after that call.

Until May 1st, 2020, when I was sitting at my desk at work, staring out at the mountains, when I got a text from Nick.

The little words I had been waiting for came across my screen: I just got rid of my video games.

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