Is Love Enough??

 

“Uhhh, so what?!? Love is not enough!”

The words slammed into me like a baseball bat. Shocked and shaken to my core, I quietly sat; not daring to say another word. I could feel the words still floating around the room – watching me, waiting for me to say something else so it could remind me again. A voice, deep inside spurred me – poking me, “Come on man! Fight back! Do it for love…do it for you!!” But I remained silent.

I’ve always found it odd how there are times I can’t recall what I did in a single day, yet, I can remember back to a single moment in my past; a moment like this, and recall it in such vivid detail. Maybe it’s because of the impact it had on me, or that I still carry around the invisible scar these words left behind. Or, maybe I’m making too much of it, and it’s just how our brains work. But I will always remember this day – this conversation, for the rest of my life.

It was Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010. My wife of almost a year, had just leveled me with the same impact as what I assume a punch from Mike Tyson feels like. Luckily, my wife does not hit like Mike Tyson, or anyone for that matter, but her words…that’s another story altogether.

If you know anything of women from New England, you won’t find it that surprising. Most people from that area have a certain something about them; in their speech and delivery, that can put you on dream street (not in a good way) real fast. On top of that, my wife is highly educated, so confidence is not in short supply.

We were watching MSNBC, and they were discussing the news that former Vice President Al Gore, and his wife of 40 years, Tipper Gore were divorcing. I was floored; saddened at the thought of love losing yet again. I exclaimed I couldn’t believe this was happening; they seemed so in love. How could you be in love with someone; high school sweethearts, and then wed for 40 years, and just quit? And then it happened. My wife of 11 months; the woman I just returned home from celebrating a delayed (but worth it) honeymoon in Barbados with, said something, that looking back now, definitely contributed to everything that would transpire over the next 8 years.

“Uhhh, so what?!? Love is not enough!”

Said with a heavy does of matter of fact, a smidgen of annoyance, and just a pinch of dismissive attitude; sprinkle on some insulting laughter for taste, and VOILA! You have  a husband, emotionally reeling on the couch; questioning everything who knows…or thought he did. But that’s ok, because she wasn’t talking about us.

We had love. Our love was enough.

I have always been a bit naive when it comes to matters of the heart. I will be the first to admit, I’m a hopeless romantic, and before I met my wife, I was more hopeless than romantic. I was never one to have much luck with woman. I have never been assertive or confident. I was never the guy who walked up to a woman and hit on her. But on the occasions that the universe found fit to bring love into my life, I was in…all in.

It was no different with my wife. I fell fast, and hard…she did not. I respected she wanted to take things slow. She shared stories of past relationships where she was hurt, and didn’t want to have that happen again. It also made sense the more I got to know her. She was calculated; almost methodical in her thought process before making a decision…it made choosing what she wanted to eat, or movie to see super fun, let me tell you.

She eventually said she felt what I felt; though, I have always had my doubts. I can’t say I really ever felt love “from” her; at least not the way I loved her – true, deep, passionate, to the ends of the universe love. But, I also understand I’m a very open kind of person; almost gregarious in a way. Some might find it smothering. The amount of love I send out in a relationship is only rivaled by the amount I’m looking for in return – an unfortunate side effect of a child raised by an emotionally/mentally abusive mom. That’s a tall order for anyone to fill, and unfair too. It definitely took it’s toll on my wife, and for that I am sorry.

Don’t misunderstand me; I do believe my wife loved me, but it always felt, only so much. Like she was rationing it out. I guess the more apt thing to say would be that I’m not sure she was ever “In love with me”. But, it was going to be ok, because…
We had love. Our love was enough.

Life together eventually found us uprooting from where we met; my home of 30 years – San Diego, CA, and moving all the way across the country to a place neither of us had ever lived – Washington DC. I didn’t want to move. I wasn’t ready to leave my life behind, but I didn’t want to lose the woman I had fallen madly in love with…and I knew she was going, with or without me. I feared what each day would bring. How long could I hold off the depression. Would I be able to make it out here in DC? No friends, no family, no idea about anything. I just had one person…and she was quickly growing tired of my leaning on her. But, it was going to be ok, because…

We had love. Our love was enough.

You keep thinking that love will be enough, until one day, you turn around, and it isn’t. Or, at least you think that, because the person you love, constantly reminds you your love is not enough. Allow me to clarify…

I’m in no way saying my wife walked around every day announcing my love wasn’t enough. In fact, there are plenty of times she boosted me up, and supported me. Hell, that’s the main reason I really wanted to win Dad Blog of the Year at Mom 2.0 this year; I wanted to thank her…she was my first fan, and that will always mean a lot to me.

But, eventually, you start to notice the feeling of love is just a little bit less than it was the day before. The annoyed tone in how you talk to each other seems to be increasing. Bickering has turned into exchanges of mean comments. You notice their level of tiredness has increased, and bedtime seems to always come right after the kids are in bed. You don’t share the same laughs together anymore. Date nights are all but a thing of the past. At least when they do happen, you make sure to post on social media how happy you are…you know – to fertilize the grass and all.

Then things go to another level. The mean comments become hurtful stabs. Someone uses something from the other’s past to shame them. Someone makes a hurtful comment about the other’s appearance, or makes constant jokes about the other’s family.

We did all these things to each other, and more…but why? Why wasn’t love enough then? Why did love fail us when we needed it most? Maybe she was right – love isn’t enough. Maybe it never was.

That’s not fair. This isn’t loves fault. Love didn’t insult us. Love never told us we were unworthy of it, or unlovable. Love didn’t prevent either of us from getting the help we needed early on, or abandon us when we needed it the most.

No, love was always there, and it still is. When my wife said those fateful words, all those years ago; she was wrong…but she was also right.

Love isn’t the end all be all of a relationship. Just like the day you get married is not the end of the race. It’s not the goal. That’s the starting point. Everything else was training just to get to the starting line. Love is the foundation; the slab if you will, that your house (relationship) is built on. It’s enough to be what you need it to be.

If you want to build that house; cool…but you have to put in the work. If you want to stop at the slab; that’s cool…you’re just gonna be cold outside. So keeping each other warm and safe will take work too. It’s all work. It takes tons of work. Sometimes the house burns down, but that’s not the slab’s fault. The slab is there to tell you, “Hey, sorry about your house, but I’m still here. I’ll always be here, just in case you want to start over. I’m enough.”

But, what happens when the slab gets damaged? Sometimes it’s a little damage, and sometimes it a lot of damage. And you have to decide if you really want to fix that slab. But, it’s not that slab’s fault. It did it’s job…it was enough.

Our slab broke about 6 years ago, and unfortunately, it seems we weren’t honest with each other about the amount of work we were doing to repair it, or, sadly, the desire to even try and fix it. And over that time, we did plenty of more damage. But, everything would be ok, because…

We had love….oh, wait.

April 11th, 2018…I said the words I never thought I would say. I told my wife I wanted a divorce. It was the hardest thing I have ever said in my entire life. I’m crying right now as I type them again. We no longer had love. Our foundation had become nothing but rubble, and it was clear to me, my wife had given up on me.

I don’t know where to go from here. I literally have no idea what I’m doing. I person I fell madly in love with (to me) no longer exists. And while I can only speak for myself, I assume she feels similarly about the person she loved all those years ago.

The weeks since I said I was leaving have been…well, strained at best. There are moments of peace, but more often than not, it’s a lot of tension. But, that’s to be expected.

I’m sure people will ask why now. The reason is…I’m 40 years old, and I have come to realize that I don’t love myself. In fact, I have a very low opinion of myself. And a great deal of that is because the person who said they would love me forever; convinced me that it was ok to trust/love again when they met me, gave up on me…and when they did, they went the same route that others had when they too tired of me. Some of that I get; I had not been doing the work to take care of myself, until the last couple years…but I guess it was too late. I just wish she would have told me sooner, or continued to believe in me, like I always have in her.

In case you find yourself wondering if I have any regrets. The answer is no. Because, although it may sound cheesy, I truly believe I am the person I am today (stronger, wiser, in better shape), because of the those very hurtful situations. Plus….my kids came out of those too…and I love those two like no tomorrow.

Although; I will say if there is one regret, it’s that all this will make Her feel like she was right. No, not her…Her. The Her, before she became Her as well. The Her that left the following message on my cell phone the night before I was married:

Hello Michael, we hope your wedding day is beautiful tomorrow, even though you have chosen to abandon all your “real” family for those people. That’s right; we’re your real family, and you know it. So, enjoy this time. Enjoy these moments, because they won’t last. You’ll never be one of them. They don’t even like you. She’ll throw you away like the trash you are, as soon as she’s done with you.

Mom always did have a way with words.

But, she’s not right. Well, some of it was right…but not the important parts. I am not being thrown away; I refuse to let anyone have that kind of power over me anymore. My may have given up on me, but I’m the one leaving. I’m closing this book in my life…not just a chapter, but the entire book up this point. Because I let everyone else write it, and in doing so, allowed them (including my wife), to tell me who I was, and what my worth was…or how little it was.

I’m starting a new book…a better one. One where I can say I’m proud of me; where I alone determine my own worth. Where I surround myself with people who actually want to be in my life, but most importantly…where I’m happy.

Thanks for reading all this. I hope you are still here for the next journey, because something tells me…it’s only going to get better.

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38 thoughts on “Is Love Enough??

  • May 17, 2018 at 9:57 am
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    I am truly sorry that things didn’t work out for you and your wife. The hopeless romantic in me is still holding out a bit of hope that you two may be able to salvage your marriage. But, if that doesn’t end up happening, at least you will have the peace of mind that your decision to leave will be the best move for you, and also for your children. Believe me when I say this, because I know from experience, that staying in a loveless marriage, or relationship where children are involved, is the most damaging thing parents can do to their children. Speaking only for myself, I can promise you that I will continue to be a faithful reader of your work, and will be rooting for you, no matter where your journey takes you. Best of luck to you, Mike.

    Reply
    • May 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm
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      I appreciate it…I wish I never had to write this

      Reply
      • June 2, 2018 at 7:14 pm
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        Hey, damn. I got nuthin but love. I have been rendered nearly speachless for two solid years with a similar journey. Your ability to put words to it heals my lack of them. I journal, but i cant get enough clarity for more than a ramble or two.
        Know how much i get your journey. Know in your soul that there are a lot of is standing up and declaring that wr DO deserve to be loved. You are strong. And as much as it hurts ans sucks,and the time never will see right, i wish i had done this at our makor first blow up when my kids were similarly aged.
        21 years of an emotionally abusive marraige is not what i set out for, but ive learnd lessons and i have three great kids. Time for a new book. One im gonna write this time around. Im over here supporting you on your new journey too ❤️

        Reply
        • June 2, 2018 at 7:23 pm
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          I thank you my friend. I’m heartbroken to hear you lived this story for 2 decades. As well as the struggles you have shared about your daughter’s struggle. I’m here for you friend.

          Reply
  • May 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm
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    It’s all gonna be better. Maybe its a good time to focus on yourself. Love yourself.
    And hang in there.

    Reply
  • May 17, 2018 at 11:33 pm
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    Oh my goodness, Mike. This was a beautiful, heart-wrenching and brutally honest piece of writing. Your vulnerability shines in the best way possible and I admire your decision to begin this next part of your journey. I’ll be following along, for sure.

    Reply
  • May 18, 2018 at 12:24 am
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    I’m sad that you have lived this story, but I’m looking forward to your next chapter. I appreciate you.

    Reply
  • May 18, 2018 at 4:26 am
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    Wow. I could’ve written almost this exact same blog about 3 years ago. I’m sorry that you’re going through this but pray that you and your kids are better for it. I sincerely appreciate your honesty in both sharing these experiences as well as accepting your share of responsibility while not blaming/trashing your wife.

    Reply
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  • May 18, 2018 at 9:06 pm
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    I’m so sorry to read this, but I know you will come out of this in a better place. Sending nothing but love to you man!

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  • May 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm
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    Wow, Papa. This was a powerful post. Let me tell you, I went through a similar experience almost 5 years ago. 5 years. It feels so much longer because that was a very. difficult. time. A time that felt like it dragged on. I won’t get into details, but, my husband and I had some trauma (inflicted by ourselves) in our past and it caught up to us 10 years into our togetherness. In September, he came to me, with an 8 page letter, detailing my faults, evidence as to why we needed to get divorced. He made me listen to him read it. He didn’t hand it to me. I had to hear the words. It was hard. I lost weight (I couldn’t eat). I saw my world crumble right in front of me. I was powerless to stop it. It was visceral. I fought through it, though. I sought out therapy. I started going to church. I needed a community other than him. I found what true love was, and it wasn’t him. It was me. I needed to forgive myself. I needed to forgive him. I watched him drink himself into tears and I picked him up and moved him to a place our kids couldn’t hear. But, we moved through it. It took years, but, we did. We’re still married. We fall into old ways, but, we recognize them. We’ve learned. (I know I did.) I did everything you said you did. Jabs. Irritation in tone. Anyway… I know this new path you’re forging is going to take you where you belong. Your post was beautiful, eloquent, raw, and truthful. Keep it up. (Btw, I couldn’t imagine saying those words to my son that your mom said to you. Just saying.)

    Reply
    • May 18, 2018 at 10:54 pm
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      Thank you so much for reading, and for sharing your story with me

      Reply
  • May 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm
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    I’m so sorry, friend. From one who has been there, as gut-wrenching as this is, you can get through it and heal. The only way out is through. Wishing you peace.

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  • May 23, 2018 at 11:06 am
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    I’m very sorry for all of this. I cannot imagine how hard it is. Please know that I am hoping and praying and rooting for you as you rebuild and restart and make it better this time. God bless, friend! ^_^

    Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 7:08 pm
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    This is shocking! It’s not for,anyone one the outside to understand though. I wish you all the best in the new chapter. I wish your wife the best in her new life too. It’s honestly all about the kids. Things will work themselves out. Just raise them babies.

    Reply
    • May 28, 2018 at 7:16 pm
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      Thank you…it still doesn’t feel real to me some days either.

      Reply
  • May 29, 2018 at 10:45 pm
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    I’m going through the same symptoms. I’m actually sitting here casually looking for a position with a new company out of state. I plan on leaving, quietly if things fall into place. Currently I’m in this relationship that took me away from my hometown. I’ve been gone so long that even there does not feel like home. Most days here are good. But the fighting is too much. We are glorified roommates. I plan on ghosting my current life.

    Reply
    • May 29, 2018 at 10:49 pm
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      Chris, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. I appreciate you reading my story, and sharing yours as well. And believe me, if we didn’t have kids, I would have been gone long ago. I wish you luck, and happiness.

      Reply
  • June 1, 2018 at 11:56 am
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    Mike~ I’m so sorry to hear you guys are going through this. I know there’s nothing we can say to make it easier. Just know someone in your old hometown of San Diego is sending hugs your way!
    Vicky

    Reply
    • June 1, 2018 at 11:57 am
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      Aww, thanks friend. I appreciate that. This, unfortunately has been a very long time coming. I think I just blinded myself to the facts…I just didn’t want to believe she would becone the very thing she helped me escape.

      Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm
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    I needed to see this today. My husband & I have been going through many difficulties over the past decade, and I just keep praying that he will learn to love himself & it will get better for all us, including our two kids. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    • June 2, 2018 at 2:05 pm
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      Thank you for sharing, and for reading. I hope he learns to as well. It sounds like you love him, and supporthis growth…that’s something I wish I had in my marriage. My wife did everything she could to tear me down. Now I’m 40, alone…and have no idea where to start

      Reply
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  • July 3, 2018 at 8:48 am
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    Oh Mike. OMG I had absolutely no idea and I am so very very sorry to discover you guys are going through this. Please know I am sending you blessings of peace and healing.

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    • July 3, 2018 at 8:53 am
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      Rob, thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your care. You’ve always been a great friend.

      Reply
  • July 8, 2018 at 12:14 am
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    I’m late to the party, Mike, but I’m right there with you. My D was eight years ago and some of it still feels like it’s happening today. If there’s any support you need, ask. I’m cheering you on from over here.

    Reply
  • July 15, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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    Thank you so much for sharing – I wish you all the best in your healing and in your future! Focus on yourself and those children!

    Reply

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