What’s Your Boggart?

Before it actually happened, I would have told you that my biggest fear – hands down, no question, don’t have to stop to think about it – was my husband leaving me. Any boggart that was going to come at me would have been Justin, telling me that he no longer loved me and that he wanted me out of his life. The idea of being abandoned (that’s the word that always pops into my head) by the man I loved made me freeze up and left me constantly on the alert for any sign that what I feared was about to come to pass.

Many times when someone fears being abandoned it is rooted in an insecure home life (or at least that is the common conception. I won’t pretend to be an expert). In my case the only people I feel will always be in my corner are my family. To worry that my family won’t be there when I need them does not occur to me. It is everyone else that I think will leave just as I look to them for support, let them in, or begin to trust or rely upon them.

Some of this doubtless can be traced back to the fact that I have lost more than a handful of friends in whom I trusted and felt had become a kind of family themselves. Looking back at these faded friendships I can see reasons in some of the cases; just like everyone there were places I was a monumental screw up and did not handle things well. Those losses hurt, but at least I was able (with ample time to let myself look more objectively) to see where I messed up and what I could do better. Much harder are the relationships that have fallen apart without me knowing what exactly it was that I did or didn’t do. Ultimately, with or without a sense of closure, enough people have chosen to leave my life upon getting to know me that being abandoned by those I trust is a major fear of mine.

One of the few people I ended up trusting was my husband – Justin. Over time I began to trust that he would listen, that I could tell him whatever I had on my mind, that he would be the person there for me. Over the five years we were married that trust was tested more than once, but I believed that we would work through it together, as a team. Getting married at 19 meant that a lot of growing up became growing together. Purchasing a car, leasing an apartment, those were things we each did for the first time with one another. I write this as the dog that we adopted together three years ago twitches her feet against my leg while dreaming.

What I am trying to say is that what I feared most was not losing someone who made me feel pretty, or losing financial support. The idea that was able to make me feel as though the floor was falling out from under me was that each time someone knew me – really took the time to understand me and know all of me – they would decide to leave. To have the person that I opened up to most and trusted above all others decide that I was no longer worth their effort or time was a knife through me.

Over the years when people have left my life I have been given various reasons to explain it away. A popular one is that people my age aren’t equipped to handle whatever the crap of the day is (chronic pain, migraines, depression, take your pick). This held some water when I was 13 or so – most teenagers aren’t equipped to deal with their own lives, let alone someone else’s. Now in my 20’s the idea that my life is too ‘hard’ for people to know how to be in my life is less than convincing. Everyone has crap; to think that mine is extra special is beyond egotistical.

Now if you ask my what my biggest fear is I won’t know what to tell you. The highly mature part of me that listens to Harry Potter audio books every night insists that the answer must be boggarts. Having conquered my fear, I must now fear actual fear. Plenty of things still scare me, but I know I can survive even the worst of them.


One Year to the Day

Precisely a year ago to the day, my world shattered into more pieces than a lifetime of counting would be able to account for. It has now been a year since I showed up at my parent’s home, nigh inconsolable and utterly incoherent with me bags packed. How they understood me between sobs I don’t know; but eventually they pieced together the fact that my marriage had ended.

At the time, this felt like a sudden and entirely unpredictable event that had crept up on me without the slightest hint or warning. Two sessions of therapy a week for a year has helped me face the reality – I had been refusing to recognize problems in the relationship, most likely as a form of avoidance. After all if you don’t look at it, talk about it, or acknowledge it, something really isn’t happening.

There is no good way to have a marriage end that I know of, and I know that my ex went about breaking things off the best that he knew how. That said, if you are in a relationship that feels over and don’t know how to end things, don’t plan it out for six weeks. Trying to tell your partner’s parents before you actually split is also shitty. Essentially the message here is that a breakup needs to start as a conversation between the actual couple. Respect the agency of the person you are with.

To get back on topic, the actual ‘I’m leaving you’ conversation was mostly civil, especially considering the late hour. None of it felt real to me at the time – a large part of me was convinced that everything was going to blow over. After all, we had never had a fight in which one of us did not come home, Justin had only recently been diagnosed as bipolar, and he had just started medication. We hadn’t even tried marriage counseling.

I was still convinced that we would manage to pull everything back together on the first of October, when I was in a car crash. The very next day Justin came to see me, to tell me that there was no possibility of reconciling. Truth be told, between crying my eyes out, pulled muscles from the crash, and the constant overwhelming urge to kill myself I don’t remember much over the month or two that came next. What I do remember is the constant struggle against how hopeless it all felt. Thinking that no one would ever want me again because of how broken I was inside and out, railing against the unfairness of everything.

I wish that I could say there was no self-pity. That would be a lie. There were tubs of ice cream, at least a pound of chocolate, and enough Thai food to keep at least one restaurant in business. In order to preserve at least a little dignity, I’ve decided to file all of these things away as forms of medication and treatment that were completely necessary.

At first what kept me going was my routine (okay I still fall apart without it. Sue me) – knowing that I have things that are coming up to be ready for, things I need to do. The time between things is when pain sneaks up on me unaware and catches me off guard. It was only my routine that kept me from falling apart, because I was too busy pushing through the daily motions to let myself dwell on the hurt that threatened to swallow me whole.

At one year out, most days aren’t so bad. I still need to stay busy and sometimes the hurt catches me off guard. Building a new life after losing one isn’t easy, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t even happen over the 90 day mandatory waiting period between filing and receiving a divorce (that’s as fast as it happens here in Washington, folks. No faster). 90 days for someone to leave your life completely. Really weird to think about.

Sometimes it hits me that it only took a year to get here. That’s forever and it’s also only a blink of an eye. A year ago me making it through a 5k was astounding, and yet this morning I went seven miles as I get ready for my second half marathon. We’re even going to pretend that I can jog for some of the race this time!

I thought that my whole life was already figured out a year ago, but everything got turned and all kinds of twisted. It turns out I have no idea where I’m going or even who is traveling with me (well, okay, Dakota is coming with. That I do know). This is going to be one hell of an adventure – anyone want to come along?