There has been a lot on my heart and mind, weighing it down like a boulder tied to a drowning woman’s ankles. No matter how hard you paddle, the weight is still there. You try so hard to let it go, and some days you think you’ve tackled it, figured it out, and yet the next day it can come roaring back.
Moving on is never easy. I tell myself that and try not to push too hard. You can only distract yourself so much before it becomes just that, a distraction. Desperately hopping from one happy moment to another doesn’t chill the burning that ignites inside. One day, time will heal, and the happy moments will transform into balanced happiness, but that is a far off shore. I am grateful for the little moments and the events that I am able to attend which help assuage the lonely thoughts, but I truly miss having that one person to share all those moments with; the person who was happy to hear about those experiences and laughs.
It’s been a deep, inner war with the thought of being with another man. It’s paradoxical. There is this intense, shattering fear that has literally woken me up in the middle of the night with tears streaming down my face while there is also a base desire to hold someone, be intimate and feel loved. These two, at this moment, are not going hand in hand. On one hand, any thoughts of being with someone else makes me feel dirty, like I’m cheating on a husband I no longer have. It’s like betraying the vows I took, but that are no longer relevant or in compliance. How do you go back from that? It seems like such a cut and dry moral dilemma, but it’s not. I’m still being faithful to a ghost. But then there is the other hand, where I am desperately trying to move on. I’m consumed by it at times. I want to have the ability to have fun with another man, to kiss him, touch him, be embraced and told I am worth the time.
And then there is a third hand, one not many know about since they don’t understand the scars that are still being formed and mended. I am still very much healing from TSW (topical steroid withdrawal). There are days (who am I kidding, everyday) when I look in the mirror and think, who wants this? My mouth is a constant trouble area that hasn’t felt a kiss in 6 months. My hands are rough, my arms dry and itchy, my neck a scratching post, and my face incessantly unwilling to heal. Pictures don’t show the struggle, the constant nurturing and attendance my skin demands of me. I could never sleep over another man’s home; if I kiss someone, would they understand that perhaps the next day my lips will not have taken it well and be okay with the fact that I may not be able to kiss them for another few days, perhaps a week? Would someone be able to get over the rollercoaster that is my condition? Thinking about sex is just a cruel joke because how in the world will I ever be able to calm the crazed paranoia of not only allowing a man who isn’t my ex see me completely naked while going through this, but to worry about getting an infection on my still healing spots, or worse, be set off into an unstoppable itch fit that would end the evening abruptly. All of this, things that no normal, freshly divorced human being would have to think about, is the very center of my world. It is the center of many TSW men and women’s lives after divorce. Even those in marriages have to worry about these things. It can create a far deeper loneliness than many realize. And none of this is said for pity’s sake, but for understanding, for the scope that is reality for myself and others. To bring another human being into this mess feels disastrously unfair.
“But you’ll find someone who loves you for you.” One, it’s a beautiful notion, but taking that first hit of rejection can really knock you off your feet, and two, I’m not ready for love. I need to learn to love myself again first before trying to give my heart away. It’s this constant limbo. I’m in limbo with being physically healed. Now I have the added pleasure of waiting in limbo of being emotionally healed. Self confidence is no more than a subjective breeze. It comes as quickly as it goes. One moment I can feel pretty, and then 30 minutes later I can feel at a loss just by trying to fix my agitated skin.
Seeing pictures of my ex with his girlfriend makes things harder. I chanced upon one on Instagram two weeks ago and my heart sank. It makes the desperation of curing the loneliness even more urgent. If he’s able to hold her so closely, why can’t I be held the same by someone else? And then I look in the mirror and am instantly reminded that my loneliness will most likely be belt-buckled in for a long while.
I’ve come to experience that the obsessing over all of this worry is an anathema to the healing process, but perhaps it is part of the healing process, to feel all of these emotions, embrace them and come to terms with them. My life is far from normal. Not the kind of far from normal I had been living before I started TSW, but life isn’t always that box of chocolates momma liked to talked about. Sometime, it’s that stale bag of chips that you have to eat since there is no more food in the house and you’re starving. You try to mask it with some dip but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still stale.
And if I feel this way, someone who has immense family and friend support, I can only imagine what other TSW brothers and sisters feel like who don’t have the surrounding love I am lucky enough to have. To those who are stuck in disastrous marriages because they are more afraid of struggling alone than listening to the snide-filled remarks from their significant others. To those who have not one family member to turn to in need because they are “doing this to themselves.” To those who have children that must watch the torture they are going through while their spouse or significant other complains as to why the dishes aren’t done.
It’s shocking to think I am on a larger emotional rollercoaster now than when I first started this hell. And I know it was because I had a partner. Just having him there was a comfort. And it was awful seeing the emotional turmoil he was having from watching me fall apart physically, but I felt like we were in it together and could get through it, that this was going to just be a phase in our lives that was abhorrent and shitty and something we could celebrate triumphantly over once we made it through to the other side. My struggles were his, and vice versa. That not only my bravery was something to be proud of but his courage to stand by my side as well. My ex truly was such an unimaginably terrific carer the first year of this. I counted myself blessed to have him there reinforcing that I was still beautiful, still the love of his life while I sat and read how other husbands were nothing but mean and deprecating. I miss having that so very much.
But I am so utterly grateful to have the family that I do and the friends who have literally been there, everyday, to hear out my wild emotions, tears, and tiny accomplishments. You all know who you are. I would not be sitting here writing this without you. I would be in a much darker place and I would never have been able to continue on with my documentary endeavor, which is so important to me. All of this pain and confusion and loss is something I never wish people to experience. No one deserves this. My documentary could be a stepping stone in the right direction. I don’t want to be idle, I want to fight. I want to embody that cliche of being the change in the world. Sadly the funding coming in to help produce the documentary is far from substantial, which is crumbling my confidence, but I can’t give up.
The path we are on with this condition is not simple, not easy, and not poetically glamorous. But this is my journey and I am determined to make it to the finish line. And not only make it, but thrive. I want to leave something behind in this world that made it better, that gave someone hope and comfort. I’d love to get back on the stage as well, but if that never happens, I know I can still find love and happiness in discovering ways to help others. My inner child wishes we all got to pick one super power. Mine would be medicine, be it an ability to heal wounds, heal cancers, or heal broken hearts.
If anyone would like to help donate to or sponsor my documentary, please visit my website at www.preventabledoc.com
Love, B. R. Wren