Left Behind

I’m over my marriage. I really am. I can honestly say that I don’t miss my ex. I no longer wistfully think about the good times. I don’t think about it at all.

Until the other night when I suddenly found myself on my couch watching an episode of Parenthood on my DVR with a huge weight on my chest and tears in my eyes.

In the episode, Joel was leaving Julia and they were trying to figure out how to tell the kids.  Rather, he was trying to figure out how to tell the kids, while she was nodding, still in complete shock.  They visited a counselor for advice.  The counselor started off by asking why they are there.  Julia was unable to speak, but Joel jumped right in.  Then the counselor asked if they were headed for divorce or if it was a temporary separation with hopes of reconciliation. Julia immediately said that it was temporary and that she hopes for reconciliation.  Joel said, “uhhhhh, I don’t know.” Or something equally stupid.

There was Julia on the couch with her mouth open, probably feeling like he had punched her in the stomach.  And there I was on my couch, feeling that way for her.  Remembering exactly how it felt from my own experience.

Sometime after the counseling session, presumably later that evening, Joel is rambling on about the plan to tell the kids the next day.  He was chattering as if they were planning the dinner for the next day.  A freaking To Do List of sorts.

  • Pick up kids – √
  • Eat dinner – √
  • Crush their entire world by telling them that we aren’t a family anymore – √

Julia sat on the bed, still looking shell-shocked. She asked him not to go; asked him to stay and work on the marriage. She promised that she would try harder. (Seriously, it’s like a scene straight out of my life.)

Joel responded in such a matter-of-fact manner, “I wish we weren’t at this point, but we are.”

Kick him!  Kick him, Julia!  Right in the back of his fat, stupid, uncaring head! [ugly sob]

Finally, the time came for them to tell the kids.  And just like a scene from my life, Julia just sat there while Joel told them that he was moving out.  Something about them deciding about the best decision for the family.  If I had to guess, Julia was sitting there wondering when they came to that decision because it isn’t what she wants at all.  As Joel was leaving, he said that he will pick up the kids for school and asked if he should use the key or knock. Julia looks confused because OF COURSE you just come in, you big jerk!  You should live here and care about what this is doing to me because  you said that you would love me forever.

Okay, maybe I added that last part in my head. While sobbing.  The truth is that, although I rarely think about that time, that pain is still in there somewhere deep down.  As I sat there watching her go through (almost) exactly what I went through, I felt every emotion that she was feeling.  The shock.  The helplessness.  The fear.  Like falling and grabbing for anything to catch your fall, but nothing is there.  You just can’t wrap your brain around it, and every time you try, you are slapped with pain.  Overwhelming pain.

Your mind scrambles to say the right thing to make this awful, spinning ride stop.  You can’t seem to comprehend how this person that you love with every fiber of your being acts as if you don’t exist.  Your feelings don’t matter.  Your pain isn’t visible despite your tears and your begging.  Or worse, it’s visible, but they don’t care…or even get annoyed by it.

I remember one of my last-ditch efforts to make it work right before our divorce, telling him all of the reasons that I thought we could work it out.  Making all sorts of promises of what I would do to make it better.  (ME make it better, even though I hadn’t cheated or spent the last several years in bars.)  He said, “I’m sure that we will get back together at some point, maybe five years from now, but I can promise you that it won’t happen before the divorce is final.  This has to happen.”  Why?  What’s the point in going through all of this if you are so sure that we will get back together?  Why not just work on that now?  Why don’t you love me RIGHT NOW?

Yes, yes, yes, I’m smarter now.  I know it was the best thing.  I know that he just didn’t give a damn.  And frankly, Scarlett, neither do I these days.  I’m over him.

But will I ever get over being discarded so easily?   Left behind without a second thought?


  1. No–we never get over that pan–even when we get to the pont that we knew t was the rght thng to do. It s stll there–30 years later, t s stll there. I so regret my dvorce, but…I thnk perhaps what we regret most s not the actual way the marrage was, but the way we wanted t to be–knew how t SHOULD be–could be. I can’t qute explan t–perhaps we are saddest for what wasn’t, rather than the realty of what was?

  2. I know n every fber of my beng t was the rght, safe, only thng to do. But t stll hurt every day when t was gong on. And to know that he chose so many thngs that were horrble to our famly over the famly – that’s the part that can creep up and bother me f I thnk on t too long.

  3. Everythng you wrote I could have wrtten myself – rght down to the comment from your ex about “maybe n 5 years.” Mne sad the exact same thng, verbatum. He felt NOTHING for me – well, I suppose he felt contempt. Contempt, because I dared to expect hm to be better, be more, be THERE for us. Who dd I thnk I was? Ddn’t I remember that he was specal and that he shouldn’t be held accountable for thngs that other men are? I was dscarded even though I’m the one who techncally left. What I realze now s that he could have left me at any pont durng our marrage because he wasn’t n t for me. He was n t because t beneftted hm for the tme beng. As soon as he had an “ext strategy” he was gong to leave, or so he sad. Well, he never left. I left hm but I’ve never seen a happer person who has just been told hs wfe was takng the kds and leavng hm. He was releved! Lfe had just opened up for hm and he couldn’t help but show t. Meanwhle, I lay n a heap on the floor (fetal poston) moanng as though someone I loved had just been murdered n front of me. When I looked up at hm he had the same look on hs face that people have when they see road kll – dsgust. So yes, Stronger, I understand. I’m so sorry that there are others out there lke me who can move on but never forget. It has been 10 years for me.

    • You descrbed t so well. My ex was actually angry when I fled for dvorce. (Oh, the rony.) Although, I thnk he was just mad that t mght make hm look bad. He wanted to be the one to do t, but then agan, he ddn’t want to look lke a guy that would leave hs famly. He sad, “I NEVER would have fled for dvorce.” Well, why would you? You came and went as you pleased, spent whatever money you pleased, and took your grlfrend wherever you pleased, whle your WIFE handled the house, the kds, the blls, etc. I never would have left that ether!
      The fact s that he left me long before I fled the papers. He HATED me. He wanted nothng to do wth me. Or our kds. She was all that mattered. And hs drnkng. I was nothng. And that s the part that s hard to get over. I was nothng.

      • Yes! I agree that beng “nothng” to hm was one of the hardest thngs to get over. For me, the hardest part though was that I ddn’t realze I was nothng to hm untl I left hm and he was happy. Everyone always says “deep down, I guess I knew.” Well, I had gotten to be a master at gnorng my gut, nner voce, red flags, etc. I actually thought he was pretty darn lucky to have me and our beautful chldren! He dsagreed. He hated my guts. Just lke you sad, HATED me. What has made t a lttle easer for me s after readng almost every book on the topc, realzng that my ex has a personalty dsorder. He doesn’t have the same emotons or responses as a healthy person. Understandng ths personalty dsorder made me feel vndcated n some way. It really WAS hm and not me. It has taken me 10 years but I fnally lke myself agan. Lfe s gettng so much better for me. I’ve been readng your blog for about a year now and t seems lke we’ve been lvng almost parallel lves. If you ever feel lke no one understands, remember there’s a pretty good chance a lot of us really do. xoxoxo

  4. Oh my goodness lades. I’m sttng at my desk readng ths and I want to jump up and down and wave my hands n the ar and say, “me too, me too!” only t’s not really a club I want to be n. I’m n the mdst of dvorcng my alcoholc husband of seventeen years that s takng forever to get through because he can’t keep hs sht together long enough to accomplsh a damn thng. Over the summer I met a man who swept me off my feet untl he “had” me and now suddenly out of the blue I have been dsgarded lke a pece of trash. After dong some research I have decded that he has some personalty dsorders. Even so, my heart hurts and t leaves me lookng n the mrror wonderng what the hell s wrong wth me. Obvously there s some work to be done wthn myself but how much rejecton can one person and her chldren take? Oh, and let me add ths and tell you that I lost my Mother who meant the world to me and my kds the week before Thanksgvng. I guess for now, I wll just keep pckng myself up, dustng off the drt and keep gong.

  5. I love “Parenthood” and that scene dd not make me mourn for my own marrage endng as much as t remnded me of my parents splttng up. My marrage endng was sad not for what was but for what never was and never would be. The chldren and I have sadness over the loss of a dream, but the loss of the realty of lvng n chaos and fear was a relef. I’ve tred to brng joy and peace back nto our lves, and am only sometmes successful. It stll often feels lke a bomb went off n our lves and the peces are scattered everywhere.

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