“Why are you here today?” the therapist asked me.
I stared into the cup of tea in my hands. Three people at the counseling center had asked me if I wanted something to drink, and by the third ask, I was starting to feel extremely rude turning them down. But truth was I didn’t want it.
I swallowed hard.
“The lady I spoke to over at rape crisis said you’d take my insurance. And my housemates said I need to keep going to therapy, that I’m not done.”
She nodded. “And I’m glad you’ve come here, but that’s not quite what I meant.”
“Oh,” I said, setting my teacup down on her coffee table.
She waited. And the silence cracked me open first.
“I’m getting ready to file for divorce,” I said. “And I want to feel okay about it.”
She nodded slowly.
“It’s not what I wanted at all,” I added.
“When you say it’s not what you wanted, what do you mean?”
“Any of it. The divorce. This, coming here. My friends, they tell me there’s no shame in coming to talk to someone, but what I really wanted? Was for him to come in with me, do marriage counseling. And he said no. Over and over. No. And when he finally did agree, he kept putting it off. ‘Someday’ never came.”
It was a long session, the first visit. I cried the entire time.
I felt a deep sense of shame and responsibility for the separation. The marriage had failed. So I had failed. And I owned that entire failure. “It’s all my fault,” I told my therapist.
“Well, yes and no,” she said. “You’re 100% responsible… for your 50%.”
And while I stayed the course, it took me years to feel okay about it.
Dear Self from 5 Years Ago
Dear Self from 5 Years Ago,
I forgive you.
I know you’re just going to brush it off, brush it away. Because that’s the way you are. You’re the kind who beats yourself up long after you’ve been pardoned.
But you’re doing what you can do, what you have to do.
And it’s going to turn out so well. Even if you can’t see that now, clouded by doubt, uncertainty.
One day you’ll wake up and see you’ve grown so much that you’ll realize that what you were staring at and thinking was the sky is just a ceiling – and not a particularly high ceiling at that. As you grow, you’ll burst up through it, shattering it into hundreds of pieces. The impact will be painful and disorienting at first, but soon, free of those artificial boundaries, you’ll be blinded by the brilliance and beauty that waits outside and by the realization that most limits are artificial self-imposed, and you are, they are, we are all freer than we let ourselves imagine.
But for now, please know that one day it will all make sense, even if it’s a bit of a mess right now. Be as kind to yourself as you can. Just think of how rough we were 10 years ago. We weren’t so bad then either. We were scared then, too.
I forgive you even if you can’t forgive yourself.
P.S. He’s better off, too. You made the right call.