“After a grand finale of lies surfacing, borderline infidelity, and a whole lot of tears and arguing, in October of 2018 I made the hefty decision to leave my 11-month-old marriage. I walked away with nothing. No money, no job prospects, nowhere to live, and absolutely no idea how I was going to figure anything out. My daughter was 18 months old and had just experienced a complicated febrile seizure the month prior, which landed her in the hospital for 2 days. I didn’t know if it would happen again. I didn’t know what I would do if it did.
Fears of my own inadequacy as a mother consumed me. Mom guilt rained down and pelted me from every angle like a heavy hailstorm. Real talk: I didn’t think I could do it alone. I didn’t really think I could do anything alone. But something inside of me must have because I walked anyway. I picked myself up off the carpet where I’d had my last panic attack, laced up my shoes, and went. The only thing I packed was a jumbo box of Pampers Swaddlers, a pacifier, and a whole gym bag full of anxiety.
I can still remember my daughter playing with the ’90s-looking phone at the shabby hotel where my mom and I stayed the first night, ‘Hello? Call you back click! Hello? Call you back click!’ I’d ventured to the courthouse earlier that day, and printed out a stack of ominous papers that perched next to the phone my sweet girl played with. They had things like _________ vs _________ printed on them and I remember thinking, ‘Wow. I guess we’re at war now,’ though we had been for a while.
I won’t go into the details of the court proceedings, or what specific actions led to me leaving because quite honestly, it was the ugliest, scariest, nastiest thing I have ever been a part of. Our lawyers were mean. We were mean. There wasn’t a moment that passed in that season of my life where I wasn’t petrified my child would somehow be ripped from me by the person who helped me create her. It’s trying to imagine a worse feeling.
What I will say: I made it work. I found a tiny, one-bedroom apartment and we ate dinner with dollar store utensils. I started an online business and I went back to school. I cried in the shower a lot. I pieced together enough rent with help from my family and what little I was bringing in until I graduated and got a job and I fought like hell every day to get past the BS story that was playing on a loop in my head about what kind of love I got to have.
And then? I got back together with him for a year. And nothing changed. And my panic attacks came back. And we fought constantly. And my health deteriorated. And the kids were stressed. And sometimes he paid my rent and I felt guilty. But I stayed. Because I was both temporarily deluded and afraid. Not afraid for my safety, but other things. Afraid of losing time with my daughter and also now, another little human I considered to be my son. Afraid that maybe it was all me, that I was just broken, and this love was actually the best thing that ever happened to me. Afraid that fu**ed up thoughts like THAT which my subconscious hurled at me might actually be true. Afraid I was an absolute joke for thinking soulmates, true love, and any of that sh*t really existed. Afraid he was right when he told me, ‘You’re selfish and a quitter. You are failing your kids and burning down their chance to have a whole, ‘normal’ family.’
But that’s not true. The truth is, we just didn’t have what it takes. And from what I’ve learned, it takes a lot. There’s a stark variation between relationships that withstand the test of time, and ones that fade or implode.
The only difference I’ve found? True love. Actual, deep, soul-based love. And it just wasn’t there with the father of my children. As hard as it was to accept this and let go of the idea of a happy little family that I so desperately wanted, it ended up being the cold hard truth.
There’s a lot of talk out of there about relationships being a choice. That two people have to wake up and choose each other over and over. And while I agree a relationship (meaning the fundamentals of how you treat each other and others) can be fostered and nurtured, prioritized or neglected… I believe a soul connection can’t be faked. It can’t be grown. It can’t be built. It’s based on something beyond our physical comprehension, and it’s rooted in some type of cosmic electricity. It’s spiritual magnetism.
And that indescribable force is what lends us the strength to throw ourselves into a terrifying state of vulnerability over and over. That’s what gives us the courage to open our eyes and send that first text, fighting through the mire of insecurity riddled goop that says, ‘We need evidence they’re not going anywhere.’ It’s the parachute we shakily strap to our core before we free fall into the unknown.
What I’ve realized: THAT has to be the foundation. Without that, no amount of forced effort, therapy, self-help books, date nights, road trips, etc. will ever amount to or fix anything. At least that was my story. And adding a marriage or child into the mix certainly didn’t act as a substitute. It was like trying to build a house with wet sand, a few sticks, and no tools. Sure, I may have been able to fake some semblance of a falling down fort, but it was never strong enough to sustain any level of wind, rain, or even slight changes in climate.
That’s what I saw over and over in my short-lived marriage. When my daughter was born, we were stressed, exhausted, and full of emotion. Change of climate. We were fighting. When my daughter had a febrile seizure at 18 months and stopped breathing for a few moments, we fought. When his son (whom I later adopted) went through some emotional and behavioral challenges due to his mom dying, we should’ve been teaming up to help him through it, but we fought again. Every single time there was a chance to form an army of two and take on life’s challenge together, we inevitably turned the guns on each other.
One night, I found myself at 3 a.m., much like a matchbox 20 song, losing my d*mn mind. I began rooting through old photographs and took out three. They were all of me as a little girl, and I was around the same age in each. One was a shot from below me as I was swinging on the swing set, I almost killed myself trying to ‘fly’ off of (oh sweet, gullible Daisy). The next was a still of the split second between me making a wish and blowing out the candles on a massive carrot cake. And the third was me holding my favorite beanie baby with a winsome, sleepy smile on my porcelain, rose kissed face. I looked at these photographs. I mean, really looked at this little girl. She was so sweet. So whimsical. So innocent. So sensitive. The dam of tears had been broken an hour ago and it certainly wasn’t letting up now.
Through them I noticed the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ beginning to fall out of my mouth. ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,’ I said over and over to this girl in the various shots. At some point in all of this, my 3-year-old daughter must have woken up because she joined me in bed and clasped my hand in hers. ‘I love you, Mommy,’ came the softest voice. That was the moment I decided once and for all, I deserved true love, just as much as that little girl in the photos and the other in my arms. An alarm sounded. I’d spent far too long listening to the words and wants and feelings of everyone else around me. I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t saying yes to anything that didn’t light my soul on fire ever again. I certainly wasn’t going to feel guilty for showing my daughter what type of love she deserved too.
Where I’m at now: we’re no longer in that little crappy apartment. We got ourselves a cute little house with a big yard and white French doors leading out to it, which happened to be on my vision board. My ex and I share custody of our daughter and although I still receive a barrage of texts on a weekly basis regarding my decision, I feel stronger than ever. I’m exploring a connection with someone who makes me feel all the right things. My health and anxiety issues have improved. I have my son a couple of nights a week and we have a standing board game date every Sunday.
So I’m here to remind you: It shouldn’t be that hard. I thought marriage was meant to feel impossible. Like it was just part of this giant communal joke we got to sadly participate in once we became another poor sap who got conned into believing in the silly constitution. A ‘sacrifice’ in marriage is changed plans, not a changed soul. You shouldn’t cry that much. Fairy tales do exist. Soulmates are real. And yours might be waiting for you.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Daisy Hixon from Arizona. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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