During the counseling, our therapist said this to us:
“There is no such thing as a winner and a loser in a marriage. There are either two winners, or two losers.”
In my head, I always added “If you make your partner feel like a loser, then you’re a loser, too.”
After a year and a half apart, I went back, because I believed he’d changed. Together, we clung to that mantra, repeating those words to each other fairly often for the rest of our marriage.
But sadly, although it was an oft-repeated mantra, it never became the vision I hoped we’d live by. I was unhappy for years trying to be who he wanted me to be, and trying to get him to understand and appreciate who I was. Already now, I can look back and see that what was wrong when I left the first time, was still wrong in the end. The core of it became the reason I left again; I did not feel like a winner with this man. And I know he didn’t feel like a winner with me either.
After stumbling for so many years, failing miserably and angrily, one day I realized I’d never find the winner I knew lived in me, as long as I stayed with him. And as I faced my own disappointment with what I’d discovered was going on, I knew he also needed a chance to be a winner with someone new, too. It wasn’t going to happen with me, and I could see in his eyes and tell by how he treated me, how much he hated me for that. So I left again for the final time, acknowledging and now accepting that we lost at something we’d tried to hang onto for 21 years.
We went through divorce mediation last week, because we couldn’t agree on what was fair. We never could see things the same way, and that stayed true to the end. We managed to come up with an agreement, forced on us by the lawyers we always swore we wouldn’t need.
I don’t know how he feels about that mediation. And although this is no longer my concern, I would be shocked if he doesn’t feel quite wronged. I feel immensely wronged, too, as I face years of rebuilding from what it turned out was going on.
In the end, I had to save myself from the choices he was making, and he needed to start over, too. And although I never want to be with him again, my heart breaks for him, as it does for me.
We both lost, just like that counselor said would happen all those years ago, because we didn’t treat each other like the winners we both wanted to be.
~ cj 2013.03.04
Yes, I know there are two sides to all of this; I can only tell my own. In the end, despite how hard we tried, we both lost, because we couldn’t win together.
I’m looking forward to my new life, and I’m happy in a way I’ve never been, now that I’ve found the winner in me.
I want him to feel like a winner, too, now that he is with his new love.
For us both, I hope we never lose like that again.