This is Divorce: The Sudden Shift in Your Reality

This is Divorce

This is Divorce.

Hello Everyone, 

For many weeks I have been completely silent online. There was one reason for that only; my husband and I separated for the final time. Just before we separated he began an argument with me about what I had been writing on my blog. He said that I was using my blog ‘to trash him’, which was in no way true. I was simply explaining some of the ins and outs of my personal life, and how you can not allow those factors to cause you to lose sight of your goal. 

That said, for the duration of our marriage, he never watched any of my YouTube videos, nor read any of my blog or social media posts. Suddenly, upon realizing that we were on the brink, he took interest in what I was writing and saying. I am not writing any of this to be mean or spiteful, but only to explain why I didn’t write anything for so many weeks. 

Let’s just say that for the purposes of this blog at this moment that the safety of both me and my children was in question. That reason, coupled with my new knowledge of the fact that he was reading all of my social posts, did not lend itself to an environment where I felt free to share. Has that changed? Only slightly. I am sure that at some point he will make time to pry into my life by reading these posts, but after weeks of losing the right to write on my blog, I simply do not care anymore. 

I decided for myself that he was not going to take one more thing from me, not my training goals, not my spirit, and not my ability to communicate with the world on my blog or any other social media channels.

There will be a time in the future where I may share the details of the final moments of our marriage, but this is not the time. We are getting ready to go through an ugly divorce, a nasty custody battle, and I will not provide his team of paid henchman with any ammunition to use against me and my babies. The only thing that I will say is this. I did what any mother would do in my situation; I protected my children, even at the expense of my marriage. Enough said for now. 

This pretty much sums it up.

This pretty much sums it up.

So what does divorce look or feel like? It feels like having your guts ripped out, while watching your standard of living plummet towards the earth, and having to figure out how to rebuild your life from basically nothing, and you have to do it all with a smile on your face to protect your children from the truth of their life. 

It doesn’t hit you all at once. For me, it happened in little ways. First, it happened the day after he left. I was making our usual amount of coffee, and realized that I no longer had to do that. The next day, it was looking at the door and seeing three jackets hanging, where once there had been four. It is tiny little knives that meet you around every corner.

Little knives in your heart.

Little knives in your heart.

You think you are just going to do the laundry, when you realize that one of his socks was mixed in with the clothing. You are overcome with a myriad of emotions; anger, resentment, profound grief, disbelief, disappointment, fear, and so much more. You look at your children playing joyfully in the bath tub, and you try to establish new routines, implement new rules. You have to tell your children that ‘Daddy loves you very much, but Mommy and Daddy are not going to live together anymore’. You have to fight back the urge to say the things that you are really thinking, because this is not their fight. Thankfully in our situation, they were not asking where Daddy was or why he was gone, so that has been a small blessing in all of this.This is their only childhood, and it is your job to protect them from this terrible new reality. 

When my parents were going through a divorce, I felt like a tattered and worn ball that was thrown violently between two parties that didn’t want to play ball. They were both highly educated, incredibly intelligent people who made the profoundly stupid mistake of not understanding that we were not responsible for their divorce. They would take their resentment towards each other and pour it on us like some disgusting syrupy goo that you could not wash off. I remember thinking that I wished that they could understand that I could, and would not divorce either of them. I was not going to choose one over the other, even though there was plenty of reason for me to do that. I was only issued one mother and one father at birth, and I didn’t get to dismiss them from my life because my parents were unable to make their marriage work. Case closed. 

Why do I tell you that? Simple, because I learned from their mistakes. I know what that feels like. I know the insecurities that created in me and my siblings. I simply will not do that to my children. It is my job to model love, compassion, and strength for them, even if I have to do it as a single mom who doesn’t think so highly of their dad. Is he a terrible person? I will let my children form their own opinions about him. As for what I think, I wouldn’t divorce a kind and loving husband, so I guess you can deduce what I think. I am not saying that he will not make a good husband/boyfriend to someone else down the road, but I am saying that the shelf life of our relationship expired, a long time ago. I was too patient, too forgiving, and simply just too stupid to end it. Thankfully, his actions took care of that for me, and now all I have to do is deal with the collateral damage. 

Do I hate him? No, I still love him. I will always want the best for him. I just no longer want to be a welcome mat for he and his family to abuse. Honestly, I could fill this blog and several others with the terrible things that happened during the course of our marriage from he and his family, but I probably won’t. The reason is because when I decide that I am truly done with something in my life, I release it. I don’t hold onto it, mull it over, regurgitate it and reanalyze it. I try to learn from it. I make my peace with it, and I just go on a more mature, more seasoned version of me. More to the point, my children and I deserve a peaceful life, filled with two parents who love them, and are whole. The only way that he and I will be happy is apart. It took me years and years, almost 10 to realize this, but it is an undeniable fact.

I also have the ability to understand the long game here. Someday, emotions will calm, he may remarry, I may remarry, we will have to learn to find peace in the one fact that we have to co-parent our children together. At the end of the day, years from now, that is all it will be. It will simply be another relationship in my life that I need to manage. It will have a different dynamic. It will have different expectations, but I hope that it will always have love and respect. I know that may take many many years to achieve, but I will conduct myself according to that one goal. I do not want to do or say anything that my children would ever look upon with disgust. I want them to see their mom as someone who took a really bad, and completely unfair situation, and built a life for them that was so much sweeter than the life that they had. I want our story, my story to be one of victory, not simply survival. I want to thrive in my divorce, not just survive my divorce. 

So what do you do? How do you go on? You make the slow realization daily that you were once a person who didn’t have another half. You used to be able to choose your own movies, your own evening activities, meals, vacation places and more. You were a person with hobbies, friends, goals and dreams of your own before you merged them with someone else’s. You realize that for the first time in your 40 years on this planet, you are actually going to be allowed to exist, in your own right, and live your life your way. There are these small victories that happen when you realize that grocery shopping is easier, there is less laundry, and you can really focus on yourself and your children. 

These children are going to need a lot of love and counseling. I can help them with the love, but we are all going to counseling together (Ava, Cash, and I-not the ex). They need to realize that they are not at fault and that they do not come from a broken home. They lived in a broken home, a very broken one, but now they are going to live in a whole home, one where the foundation is solid and stable and sure. I despise the term broken home, because it is positively laughable to assume that simply because two people manage to tolerate each other and live under the same roof, that they are somehow not broken. This is a lie. It’s a lie that society feeds us, to keep us in place, to keep us half alive. 

Sure there is a stigma with walking around with two children, and no wedding ring. People look at you. They make assumptions about you that may or may not be true, but they don’t really know anything about the situation. Just today, the kids and I had to get out of the house, so we walked into town to get ice cream. We live in a very upscale part of New Orleans. When we walked into this store, ordered and sat down, I felt the stares. I noticed one blonde woman and her husband in particular who kept looking at my left hand for a ring, which was not present. 

She was your typical trophy wife; tall, blonde, well dressed, huge ring, etc. She was me until 2.5 weeks ago. She is just walking around in her safe, secure, over privileged life not wanting for anything. What she doesn’t know is that the river that separates her life from mine is not so wide. She could be me in an instant if the tides turned. As I sat there thinking about that, it occurred to me that even though her stares were making me uncomfortable, that I didn’t want to live her life anymore. 

She was at this ice cream parlor, and it obviously meant nothing to them. They ate half of their ice cream and threw it away. For us, it was a huge treat. My children at every last bite of their ice cream, because they know that it will not happen again for quite some time. It occurred to me in that moment that I felt somewhat dead in my former life. We had everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. This new life will come with far less in the physical sense, but we are blooming as a new family unit. 

In case you are wondering if I have completely let go of my bikini bodybuilding training as we have navigated this new life, NOPE! I haven’t missed a single workout. I have lost more than 10 pounds since I began training. It has actually been wonderful to have a goal and a plan to focus on while the rest of my life is very uneasy at this time. Bragging? Not even close. I am simply telling you that when you make a decision for yourself that you are going to do something, you will move heaven, hell, and anything else that comes down your path to make it happen. 

It is going to be a long, bumpy, and windy road until this is over and I can look back and laugh. That said, I am going to strap myself and my babies in and enjoy this ride. I feel alive for the first time in so many years. I feel free to breathe, to exist, and to be. 

Living my Life, 

Raphaela

It Was My Foot on the Gas Pedal.

Raphaela's Speeding Ticket
         Time To Slow Down a Little

Ok, so, to be fair, it was my foot on the gas pedal, but that doesn’t make paying this speeding ticket any easier. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. day, I was headed back from a 2 day trip to Pensacola with my babies. I left work early on Friday, grabbed my babies from daycare, and then drove 6 straight hours to arrive at Pensacola so that we could spend the holiday with my husband.

My husband had been down at NAS Pensacola taking a course for his ‘Marine Aviator Career’, translation, I get to watch the kids alone for an entire month…Yeah Marine Corps! I have been through so many deployments for 7 months at a time, and training for weeks on end during this marriage, that I am surprised that it even phases me anymore. That said, it does.

Most, and of course, I am throwing out a blanket statement, Marine wives (especially Marine Officer’s Wives) are stay at home moms. This is something that I think is amazing, but it is just not my life. It is a really wonderful arrangement, because whenever the Marines are on leave, or have a holiday, the whole family can pack up and have a nice holiday together. Military households function best when there is at least one constant in the home, and usually it’s the wife. She can keep everything going no matter how many times her husband has to fly at night, leave for a week, or deploy for months on end. That is not my reality, at all.

My husband and I both work outside of the home, and trust me when I tell you that it has caused us a lot of grief, and certainly put some wrinkles on my face. When he leaves, it means that our already insanely stressful life not becomes my sole responsibility. I have to manage our home, raise our children, run my business, etc. and keep all of those plates spinning all by myself. Thank God I have super powers…..Not! 🙂

I am not belly aching about being a military wife, just dealing it straight, like it is. There is a lot of romanticism about what it is like to marry a pilot/officer in the military, and I am just giving you a sneak peek at the other side of that script. It’s not so Officer and a Gentlemen…It’s more Top Gun, as in, they are Top Dog, and you just learn to deal with it. Your whole life revolves around the Corps, or whatever branch of service your loved one is in. This can be a really great thing for some. I have found this very challenging.

When my husband and I met, I already owned my business, had my own set of friends and a life that I loved. Then we met, married, had children, and I have had to bend to the Corps every command. For example, when we had my daughter, my husband was deployed just 6 weeks after her birth. He came home when she was almost 8 months old. There I was in California, with no family, a new baby, and trying to keep my business going. When he came home, the Corps moved us (and by extension I had to move my business) all the way to Georgia. This was a challenging chapter in my life to say the least. We bought a home, built a new warehouse, decorated both, moved across the country, and just for fun, I decided that this would be a good time to have our second child. Yes, that was sarcasm, but we got pregnant as soon as he came home, so that is just how it worked out.

So back to the ticket. I was racing home so that I could unpack, do laundry, get everybody bathed, and all of the bags repacked before the next day. There was a lovely Officer (it’s raining sarcasm in here) who decided t0 write me a speeding ticket. To be fair, I was speeding, not a lot, but he was sitting right at the point where the speed limit goes from 65 to 55, and that little gem wrote me a very expensive ticket. I was, to say the least, not a happy girl.

Once he walked away and I started driving again, I completely lost it and started balling. For a minute, I honestly couldn’t decide what I was mad about. Then it hit me. I was upset with myself for allowing my life to become so jam packed with things, that I was always trying to cram 48 hours worth of stuff into 24 hours. The truth is that I already had enough on my plate with my husband being gone, and I should have just politely declined his offer to come to Pensacola for the weekend.

In trying to please everyone, I failed myself. I have a right to relax, rest, and be renewed. I have a right to protect myself from becoming completely run down. However, somehow, I had lost sight of that. I had become so wrapped up in trying to be the ‘good Marine wife’ that I lost sight of the very little bit of my own life that I have control over outside of his career.

I know that some people will read this and think that I am being harsh. What I am being is honest. The military is built on the backs of wives (and some husbands whose wives are service members), and to make matters more complicated, the wives are very rarely ever celebrated for all of the hard work that they are doing behind the scenes. When we go somewhere, and anyone finds out what it is that my husband does for a living, they always thank him for his service. It makes me cringe, because the kids and I are the ones who make HUGE sacrifices for his service, and it is like we are invisible. It’s very disheartening, so please thank the wives and children next time you feel compelled to say ‘thank you’ to a service member. They are the ones keeping the home fires burning! Enough on that…sorry….unexpected rant just occured  😉

Anywho, my whole point is that though I was seriously unhappy about the ticket, it really helped me to set myself straight. It was a reality check that I really needed, and if you ever want to get my attention, *UCK with my money, and you will have it. Having to pay that money was upsetting, but I was going to fast. Not just on 96 East, but in life. I needed and need to slow down, be more careful, protect myself, my time, my energy, and my life from so much chaotic momentum.

If you come from a family that has two working parents (outside of the home), and one of you is always deferring to the other one’s career, then you will completely understand what I am talking about. Here is a little piece of advice-Slow Down, Take Care of You! The Red Cross has a great saying, “If you can’t take care of you, then you are no good to anyone else.”

Remember that it is ok for you to put yourself as a priority from time to time. You don’t always have to be everything to everybody. It’s your life too. Don’t lose sight of that. Stay happy and healthy, and everyone in your family, including your service member will thrive.

Gratefully,

Raphaela