When my ex decided to leave me, having fallen in love with another woman, it wounded me rather deeply. Nothing new there. That’s to be expected and that’s what most people experience upon the end of their marriage. You typically feel a lot of pain when someone leaves you, throws you away because you are no longer of any use to them. No longer wanted. My situation was a little different. You see, my ex really left me during our first year of marriage. That’s when he told me he didn’t love me. That’s when he told me he didn’t want to hear any of the pain or deep feelings I had in my heart as I was trying to come to terms with the aftershocks of having been badly abused by my parents while I was growing up. He didn’t want to know about the turmoil, uncertainty and brokenness. He didn’t want to know the real me at all…in fact, he rejected the real me. He wanted me to keep the ugly to myself and only show him the nice. He insisted that we have a relationship with my abusive parents. He loved them. He thought they were great. I tried. I tried to be a good daughter. I tried to be an upbeat, obedient wife. I promise you I tried very hard, in fact. It wasn’t easy, because I’m a deeply wounded person who would have really benefited from some love and acceptance. Not having that love and acceptance actually did a lot more damage. The rejection probably would have pierced the heart of even the most stalwart, but they probably wouldn’t have stayed around for 22 years afterward either. They would have most likely said, “To heck with you…you don’t love me, I’ll find someone who appreciates me for the wonderful person I am.” I, however, didn’t think I was a wonderful person. I thought (and think) I’m pretty much of a mess. Probably not even worth loving. So I stayed. And tried to be a good “wifie.” Tried to keep all the negative stuff under wraps. Tried to contribute in every way I could, which meant being the main breadwinner of the family and taking care of business. Tried to be as little of a burden as possible. Tried to go on. Tried not to need him for much of anything at all beyond what a basic partnership required. It was lonely and painful and it pretty much destroyed what was left of my soul. Why did I stay? It’s that self-esteem thing, you know? Not having any? I didn’t believe I was DESERVING of love. I took it on the chin, believing the very best God could do in my pathetic case was to find someone who would tolerate me. My ex tolerated me fairly well, as long as I could perform. But as the years passed, performing became more and more of a chore. I got worse and worse at it. I lost energy. Couldn’t even fake being normal. I was never a good cook. Never the best housekeeper. But I lost the ability to perform even at the most basic of levels. I just couldn’t. Social events drained me of energy and became almost intolerable. I couldn’t connect with anyone because I had to hide my horrible self. I went to work and came home, hiding away in my house, reading, playing with my dog, trying to act as if I wasn’t a dead man walking with a broken core. I was afraid. I was lost and unacceptable. By not being able to do the chores required, work the hours demanded, keep up the happy facade, I failed horribly in every way possible. And I hated myself for it every single day. Until he left. I had always believed God would somehow repair, restore and create a true marriage for us. I hung on because of that belief. I knew I didn’t deserve love, but I thought God would bring it about in time if I persevered. I was wrong. Now, I’m alone and very, very lonely. Isolated, in fact. I have been divorced for 9 years and haven’t been on a single date. I don’t get out much. I’m fairly shy and not that great at having fun. I still don’t know how to act normal. Relationships present a frightening new world, one that I don’t know how to navigate and for which I don’t speak the language. I don’t even have close friendships. I have a few friends, but we rarely see each other and don’t especially connect. My fault, not theirs. I don’t know how. So my life is empty. It’s painful. It’s hard to have hope and to believe I have a future that isn’t bleak and barren. My ex has remarried. I’m not supposed to know this, but I do. He didn’t marry the person he left me for, but he is remarried, and has been for a few years. She had a child before they married, a girl, who is a teenager. They are happy. His life is full. His parents have passed away and they left him a chunk of money too, so his financial problems are blissfully gone. Mine weigh on me every single day. Heavily. So, while I don’t wish him any harm…in fact, I’m glad he has found happiness…it still hurts. Because my life is so empty. And my needs, both financial and emotional, are so totally not being met. I’m in a mess. I’m unfulfilled. I’m broken and broke. It’s hard to keep my brain from continually asking, “What did I do that was so wrong? Why is he rewarded, blessed even, and I’m screwed?” Why me? Maybe that’s the question. Why was I abused? Why was I (and am I still) unloved? Why has my life been so hard, so persistently nightmarish, when his (and the lives of others I know) has been relatively blessed? Why must I struggle so just to get through the day? What did I do that was so horribly wrong? What is it about me that makes me dog poop while everyone else is a person of worth? I want to break free. I want to find happiness too. I want to be loved…maybe even loved a lot…even though I don’t deserve it. Maybe even in spite of the fact that I’m a wounded soul. I want to be valued and cared for. I want to connect. I want to live life before I die. I don’t want to be dog poop any more. Is is wrong to want to find my prince charming? Someone who, unlike my ex, can see some redeeming value in me? Is it crazy to hope for a “happily ever after” kind of ending to my story? Because, I have to be honest here, if that never happens, I’m not sure I have a story that’s even worth telling. It certainly wouldn’t be worth living…not without the Hollywood finish…at least a little bit of splash. There’s been too much pain. Too much suffering. If there is no redemptive ending to my life, then I might as well stop talking. Stop writing. Stop living. Now.