Deciding To Get Divorced
This was, and remains, the hardest decision I have ever had to make and by far the hardest thing I have ever been through. I found it harder than grieving my father’s death as a teenager and harder than going through breast cancer. What I hadn’t realized until I was actually going through it was how “common” it is for women to get divorced during and after breast cancer. This was shocking at first, but then as I was going through it, it became more and more obvious to me why the two seem to go hand in hand. I had tried for over 20 years to make my marriage work. From the very beginning, there were problems, but I looked the other way and thought that I could “fix” it.
I was lonely
Looking back now, it was so obvious that he never had any interest in being my partner. He carried on living his life just as he had prior to meeting me even after we were married. His lack of connection and intimacy made the marriage impossible, and I was unhappy from the very beginning. Every time I would express how unhappy I was he would turn it around and make me feel like it was my fault. So, after years of hearing this, I actually started to believe him. His opinion of me became more important than my own. Even though I was super unhappy and very lonely I still believed that I could make this marriage work.
I tried, and tried, and tried to make it work
He suffered from untreated depression and refused to get help, so I overcompensated by making sure that everything on the outside was as “perfect” as it could be. It was a lot of work to try so hard for so many years to make something work that simply was never going to work. Once my daughters were in the picture it only gave me more reason to try even harder to make it work. The harder I tried the more he resisted.
Breast cancer changed everything
Living with him was like living with a zombie. I felt like I was trapped in a life that was holding me hostage, but none could see it but me. I started to question how I would be able to live the rest of my life in such an unhappy and miserable marriage, but I had no real intention of leaving. It was breast cancer that empowered me to take the steps I needed to take to free myself from this abusive relationship.
I think everyone has that moment when they know for sure that it is over. For me, it was on the day of my cancer surgery. I woke up at 5 am on November 18th, 2019 to take a shower and get ready to head to the hospital. It was still dark outside as I got out of bed slowly and quietly so I wouldn’t wake him up, I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror thinking “ why am I always alone?”.
My time to heal
I turned on the shower and as I stepped inside, I started to cry, the tears streaming down my face as the water fell on my body. I knew at that very moment that my marriage was over. I got out of the shower, got dressed, and then quietly walked out into the bedroom where he remained sleeping. I looked at him and thought, this is not about him today, this is my time to heal and to take care of myself, and that’s exactly what I did. I knew the right time would come once I had recovered from my surgery to leave him. Six months later it did.
Has metastatic breast cancer affected your ability to start or maintain romantic relationships?