I’m starting to contemplate being on my own again, after 27 years. My wife and I are separating, and I’m going to move into my own place.
Sometimes it seems exciting, and I can’t wait to start my “new life” at 49 1/2 years old. I like the idea of buying all new stuff for my place, furniture and the like that will be to my taste. I look forward to doing whatever I want to do, whether it’s going to see a movie or to have a drink, or to hang a new picture on the wall, or listen to music and watch TV at 3am (assuming I have a TV).
I’ll be able to talk to my girlfriend more often, instead of only at 10PM at the end of the day, with a noise machine playing the sound of rain falling so my daughter in the next room doesn’t have to hear us. I can text her whenever I want without hurting my wife’s feelings. I can literally talk out loud, and freely.
I can have friends stay over, and we can stay up late. I won’t have to circumscribe my life to avoid bothering someone else. I won’t have to deal with someone else’s moods, just my own.
I can take guitar lessons, learn to play tennis, do more cooking, and maybe even remodel a house. Or do none of those things. Or start doing them with great enthusiasm, and then get bored, and do nothing but watch TV for a while, and then start again.
It’s all exciting, especially when I’m feeling positive and in a good mood, but I also feel sadness, guilt and fear.
I’m sad because I’ll miss being in the house I’ve lived in for the past fifteen years, where I’m sitting now in “my place” on the couch. I’ll miss the “we” that’s been a huge part of my identity the past 27 years – our house, our kids, our life. There are good reasons that my wife and I are separating, but it’s sad to think these things that were ours will now become “mine” and “hers”.
I know I’m going to miss seeing my kids as often. Already I’m planning to be with my girlfriend in another state at least ten days out of every month, and I don’t know how many of the remaining twenty I’ll be able to see them. I think it will be often, but there will be evenings when I’m sitting alone in my new place, wishing I was with them. I’ve chosen to make these sacrifices, but I know they will be difficult.
I’ll miss being an “intact” family. My parents divorced when I was eight years old, and many of my childhood memories are of pain, sadness, confusion, and anger. I became anorexic and depressed during adolescence. My parents’ divorce was easily the most traumatic event of my life, and I’ve been determined not to revisit that trauma on my own kids.
I’ve wanted to leave my marriage before, but I didn’t because I knew it would hurt our children. I wanted them to grow up with the full love of both parents, feeling like they were the center of our universe. And even though my wife and I haven’t always loved each other very well, we have done a good job of loving our kids. They seem pretty happy and “normal”, so at least we’ve given them that.
I’ll miss and mourn this feeling of being a family, because I know as soon as I move out it won’t be the same. Once we take that step, once we tell the kids, it’s not going to be the same again. Even if we get together as a family, or go on vacations together, it won’t be like before. It will seem forced, maybe awkward. Our kids will learn, as I learned, that sometimes love doesn’t last or it’s not strong enough. Even if they’ve known that our marriage wasn’t the most happy or loving, it will still be different for them if we’re not together. A new reality to deal with.
I know my wife has mixed feelings too. She’s scared to be alone, but she also doesn’t want me around anymore. We cause each other to be angry too much, and there’s too much hurt. So there will be an absence of hurt and anger, hopefully, but what will replace it? I guess that’s up to each of us, on our own now, to figure out.