My ex-husband - when I picture his smile and his laugh it makes me smirk and tear a little thinking about his British gaps (that's what he would call his teeth). I miss his face even now after being separated over 4 years and divorced for 3. He was a beautiful person, inside and out. Selfish and addicted, but genuinely had a great heart (we were both selfish and addicted in our own ways). He was 6'5, gray, blue-green eyes. He was handsome and funny. He loved a good time that man. Loved to air guitar and dance. He used to put his finger in the air and shake his hips back and forth to most things proclaiming, "yes this is good". He had more "isms" than any person I have ever met. The gnaw of his pointer finger, the scratch of the forehead when deep in thought, the way he ordered a martini, "I will take it dirty" (3 second pause), "with some olives" (3 second pause), "grey goose" (5 second pause), "straight up." He would chuckle to himself all the time. He was gentle and he LOVED his friends more than anyone I have ever met. If you were to hear him talk about his buddies, you would realize how much he appreciated those guys. He loved his friends more than most people love their first born.
Somewhere along the way my ex's heart had been blocked. It had been numbed. I wasn't sure what had him blocked throughout our relationship and I am still not entirely sure now, but we were blocked from each other. We put barriers between ourselves and the other person. Each in heavy protection mode from going in too deep, from getting hurt, from fully committing, from fully being seen. We drank, we partied, we did drugs, we shopped, we both hurt each other, but what is so unbelievable to me is, with all the blocks, we still loved each other so much. We both were in equal amounts of fear but that didn't mean that our relationship wasn't full of love. We just both didn't think we deserved healthy love. We were two codependents trying to navigate a relationship that we didn't want to lose but didn't know how to keep.
After our divorce, he and I went on our own journeys. Inward journeys. He was struggling with alcoholism and I filled the void with everything except my own love, from drugs, to alcohol, to shopping, to food, to events. We had both hit rock bottom, at different times and speeds, but both eventually got there. He is still "paying" for some of his actions. We haven't spoken in some time now, but I would venture to say that he isn't really "paying" for anything. I am sure he is on a beautiful journey right now. I am sure he is learning all his lessons and looking at it as, "glass half full" because I know when he is fully sober, he sees life as a gift, the good, the bad, the ugly. I know he sees it as a stepping stone and I know after he is done with this part of his journey, he will be out in the world serving up light. Because at the core of my ex-husband is a good man, a man destined for greatness.
The end of the story isn't written yet for him, as he is currently in prison serving time for shipping cocaine over the boarder (BIG WHOOPS). A desperate decision made deep in his addiction. I know when I speak of how wonderful he is, for some people reading this part, they will think he is a bad guy and I am naive or have Stockholm syndrome because how could a "great guy" do something so illegal? The truth is though, he was a good guy, he just made some really stupid decisions. Good people, do bad things sometimes. And yes, this was a pretty bad thing. He was deep in addiction and couldn't see clearly at all. He was in so much fear that he couldn't get out of it. Fear he wouldn't be able to provide for myself and his family, fear of debt, fear of loss, fear of not being enough. That company supported his whole family, and as it went through troubling times throughout the course of his addiction, he felt the pressure like nothing I had ever seen to support his family - his mom, his dad, both his brother's and their families and his baby sister. An "opportunity" presented itself that looked like it could cure all his problems and he took it.
Although, I had no idea how intense the anxiety was at the time, the level of drinking was a good indicator of what was going on behind closed doors. The wine bottles moved through our home at lightning speed. Sometimes so quickly that his shame forced him to fill the bottles with water, put the cork back in and the seal back on top. He would forget he did things like this until I'd open the bottle for myself and a friend and poor water out of it. He would sneak vodka into his coffee in the mornings or drink the last of the wine on the kitchen counter before he left for work. My family would visit and find bottles buried in the backyard while playing with our dog. He would disappear to hotels for weeks at a time to drink alone, as he was so embarrassed by his inability to stop. I once found him crying in the shower begging for answers as to why he couldn't say no to this substance that genuinely had him powerless. He described it to me as "a force of nature." He was in the depths of darkness and couldn't see straight. It was so beyond painful to watch and experience and reliving it and writing about it, literally makes me cry.
Although, I had no idea what was going on, I look back now and there were signs. The biggest being a bat phone that at the time, I accused him of using for side relationships and women. I was deep in survival mode and just trying to get through the day. All I could see at the time was a problem I was trying to solve. How could I save him? I tried love and punishment, I tried interventions, facilitating sober living facilities, detox centers, rehabs, getting a sponsor. I hid bottles, I'd pick him up from work when he was drinking, I'd make him big meals to sober him up, I'd miss jobs and go late to work to help him get to his commitments. Until one day, I stopped. I stopped it all. I was so dizzy I couldn't see straight. I could barely walk. I couldn't drive. I finally realized I couldn't save him, I was only enabling him. I had to save myself.
When I first filed for separation, I went to Paris for a few months to focus fully on myself, to try and enjoy life again. My parents and in-laws saw it as selfish, even my friends couldn't understand how I could walk away from my husband when he was struggling so much. No one really understanding how much I was struggling, how much pain I was in, because I had been taught to push my pain under the rug, to ignore it. So I looked great, while he was drowning. But the truth was, we were both drowning. I was desperate and I saw it as survival. Exhausted and making myself sick, Paris gave me the ability to see the beauty in life that I had lost throughout the course of that marriage. I graveled in food, wine and art. I took trips to Italy, Spain, Germany and England. I loved on myself for the first time in a couple years. This was the first step in starting to put my feelings before someone else's.
Looking back though, there were absolutely ways I was numbing and not taking into consideration our relationship or how that may have participated in furthering his addiction. I am not taking responsibility for his actions, nor should he take responsibility for mine, but we both exacerbated each other's addictions. I shopped my way through Paris, spent all my money I had made from my makeup career that I had saved. Not realizing how much financial turmoil we were in, he would ask me to stop spending so much but I always thought I deserved it. I always thought that if he were drinking, then I got to spend. It was such a twisted cycle and I have apologized to him multiple times for this throughout the course of my own spiritual journey. I should highlight here, that he has also apologized to me multiple times. We have definitely made our amends. At the time though, we exacerbated each other's void filling techniques.
The last weeks of Paris, I had to make a decision about finalizing a divorce or trying again. My boundary was, "if he was drinking when I got back, I was done." The day I walked in the door from Paris, he was wasted. Sabatogery at it's finest. All the light I had gained in Paris, sucked out of me in one swoop, when I saw the man I loved at the top of the stairs swaying from side to side. My dizziness was at its peak. I filed for divorce 5 days later.
This was a long road of hope and disappointment, as he went in and out of rehab centers and sober living facilities trying to get sober. As we went back and forth on whether to get back together, so did his sobriety. Filing for divorce wasn't enough to keep me away from this man whom I loved so much though. So instead I put the United States between us and moved to New York, so I could start over, focus on myself and get out of the enabling and addictive pattern I was participating in.
Even while living in New York and having a divorce that finalized, we went back and forth. When he was sober we were the best of friends, which I quickly realized was getting in the way of me meeting anyone else. Then we wouldn't speak, I'd get a boyfriend, that wouldn't work out and I'd go back to him. He would do the same. We both lived in this pattern for a long time. I'd say he and I actually fell in love with each other after our divorce. It was during the sober, spiritual journey we were actually able to see each other for the first time, be honest with each other for the first time, be genuinely intimate with each other for the first time. Not sexually but with our vulnerability. We were no longer living behind the walls and the numbing techniques.
It wasn't until November of 2018 when it all came out about what was going on behind closed doors. It changed the nature of our relationship as he was facing time in prison. Any hope for a future went out the window for a few reasons. One, because he couldn't stay sober while awaiting what his sentence would be. Two, I could no longer participate in the toxicity of the relationship and pretend like past actions weren't affecting us. Three, he was going to prison, so the jig was up.
The 9 year relationship was over. And the universe literally had to separate us, to separate us.
Our soulmates don't always come riding in on a chariot with a white knight attached to it. Sometimes we find love in dark places. Our relationships, our romantic partnerships, our "soulmates" are a means of bringing us closer to our souls. Our soulmates sometimes take us on a tale spin in order to remove the layers that are hiding our true nature. My ex and I were two codependent people. Two people rolling through life like Tasmanian devils and happened to swirl around each other for a good 7-9 years until we finally dropped each other off in our homes, the homes inside ourselves.
There isn't a day that goes by where I am not beyond grateful for all the lessons I learned around that man. He was the beginning of my spiritual journey, the catalyst to wake me up. I send him so much love and hope he is happy and healthy wherever he is.
A lesson in love:
Soulmates sometimes enter and leave our lives in chaos, and other times they sit across from us sipping their coffee and teach us that love is found in the simplest of moments.
This relationship definitely left my life in some chaos but there is no doubt it brought me closer to my soul. Believe me, I recognize when we are in these toxic relationships that sometimes it is hard to see why they are happening. The level of pain I experienced was unlike no other AND I learned so much about addiction, codependency, self-sufficiency, love and fear throughout the course of that relationship. There is always a silver lining.
If I hadn't gone through that level of pain, who knows if I ever would have figured out how to put my feelings first or if I would have moved to New York to experience the Big Apple or if I would have seen he was my mirror. I also learned I could support myself without the help of a man, which was a huge lesson in self-worth and confidence. I was able to start new businesses and experience parts of the world for months at a time I may not have been able had I stayed in that relationship or had it not happened. I learned to love selflessly and from afar. Sometimes we have to walk away from people we love this much to save ourselves. Loving from afar is one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn, but sometimes love really just isn't enough.
It seems as though sometimes I have to learn lessons in the hardest of ways. This was definitely not an easy way to learn to love myself or wake up but I did. And now that this love story has brought me closer to my soul, I can genuinely say I am happier and have the tools to go through life. It doesn't always mean it's easy but this relationship was the gateway to seeing a better life, a life surrendering to a power greater than myself, a life of faith, and one of spirit.
When a relationship has you feeling sadness, despair or anger, remember you always have control over your mind, your perceptions and your feelings. If you look closely, there is almost always something positive in every situation. Breath deeply, become aware of the triggers and then unidentify with them. It's not about suppression but recognizing you are the awareness of the feelings, you are not the feelings themselves. When we unidentify as a feeling we automatically lighten the intensity of the emotion by half. From this place we create a space between ourselves and our feelings, allowing us to see circumstances in a different way. Get out of fight or flight and focus on the positive. Let this shift the way you see things and have faith the universe has your back.
And lastly, always thank your teachers. Some of my biggest teachers were the ones who brought me the most pain. Or should I say, the ones that brought the most pain out in me. Meaning I take responsibility for the participation, the allowing of the pain and the recognition that I stayed to endure more and place blame. That being said, that pain was needed to learn the lessons on this path to divinity. They were a part of my hologram of life so I could wake up. So thank you to this man, my ex-husband for all the good, the bad and the ugly.
It's also so important to remember the good. So I want to thank my ex-husband for all the good, because we also had a lot of fun together. So I am also celebrating the below:
-We both had a zest for life and adventure. We traveled the world together and he opened me up to so many different places and experiences.
-He supported all my ideas tirelessly, because there were many, and no matter how many plans I made for my life, he was always so excited about all of them for me, even if I didn't follow through.
-He showed me love and partnership in New York City. We would try all the restaurants, walk the parks and bar hop with friends. It was a ball.
-We bought Gus together. The happiest doodle dog on the planet who fills my family's heart with SOOOOO much joy.
-We would talk morning, noon, and night. We would wake up talk, he would leave for work and I would call him the whole way there (which was an hour in traffic). Then I'd call him with "Erica ideas and thoughts" all day long and then talk again on his drive home. To bed to talk more.
- We laughed our faces off about the silliest of things.
- We would dance all the time, around the house, in the car, on the streets, everywhere. We celebrated life together when we were happy.
That was my biggest love story to date. Remember that even when it's ugly, it can be beautiful and your soul mate doesn't always look like what you think it will, but it is always person who brings you closer to your soul. Thank you to my ex for bringing me closer to mine.