To my soon-to-be-former husband and long-ago-lost best friend,
As we start down this path towards separating out all the pieces of our life together, I have to let you know that this is not an easy process for me, as much as it seems that way to you. I am sure it feels that I am unfeeling at times, or indifferent to the pain I am causing you. Please know that this could not be further from the truth. It is precisely because I am not indifferent that we have had the past few years, such as they have been, and during that time I have tried all I can to reconnect with you, to find a place to rebuild, some little corner of the foundation we put in place 20 years ago that still feels secure and stable. At each turn where I feel optimism rising, something happens to make it vanish into mist. I will always be sorry for that, for not finding a way to nurture that hope when it surfaced, ever so briefly.
This has been a year of tremendous introspection and transformation for me, too. While I know you resent it when I say this, my reflection on our marriage and how we have come to where we are keep bringing me back to the same realizations. I never doubted that you loved me, but it has been many, many years since you liked me. I feel this started just weeks after we were married and until the past year, when our son disclosed his cutting, I annoyed you endlessly - by chatting with people everywhere we went, not having dinner ready when you came home, the house not being tidy enough. I disappointed you - by not making enough money, by gaining weight. I made you angry - by confronting you or questioning you when I felt you were being overly harsh with the kids, or with me, by asking you to drive more carefully and more slowly, by commenting on anything since you so often took things as confrontation.
I cannot count the number of times I said, "We can't live like this any longer", yet did nothing effective to stop it. I would just hold back from confronting you and let things lie - you got less angry that way - and time would eventually ease the tension and we would fall back into our regular daily existence again. I knew that our family could only be harmonious if I chose not to respond to feeling hurt by you. This had a serious impact on me personally, and definitely took a fatal toll on our relationship.
I am seriously asking myself why it is that I can no longer find it within me to try again, to do the necessarily painful and hard work of trying to rebuild our relationship again, brick by brick from the ground up. This is why I began seeing a therapist. I could not live with myself if I did not try every avenue to uncover a new approach or find a path that has been overlooked.
What I have learned is that comes down to an issue of trust, on several fronts. There have been too many experiences over too many years where I have trusted that things are getting better, only to have a sudden shift back to more hurtful patterns. When I would try to address with you how hurt I felt by your words, your tone, and your actions, I really do believe that your angry response came not from a lack of caring that you had hurt me but a sincere belief and perception that you hadn't. The problem for me, though, is that you did hurt me. Very deeply. Sometimes profoundly. And many times.
What I need you to know is that I will always love you, and I will always feel a deep sense of loss about the end of our marriage. You are not simply imprinted onto the fabric of my life, but woven right into it. Since I was 22 years old, you have been an important part of so many of my experiences and memories. You were the reason I could never go out with the handsome veterinarian, to whom I was so grateful because he was the person who first suggested that I should take a good look at my feelings for you, saying that I was fooling myself when I said that we were "just friends". That encouragement led me to the realization that you were the person I wanted to be with, to grow old with. It was very difficult when it seemed, as time went on, that while you enjoyed our relationship, you never seemed quite as taken with the idea of a long life together as I was. The movie "When Harry Met Sally", that we watched every New Year's Eve, always brought me to tears at that moment ... when Harry says, "when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start right now!".
I have always worried that I pushed you too hard to make that commitment and to marry me all those years ago, overlooking the reasons you may have had for not wanting that. You always said it was never a question for you, that you had always wanted me in your life and that marriage was what you truly wanted, yet you were so reluctant for so long. I was so focused on how much I loved you, and how many people say they married their best friend but for us, it would be absolutely true. The night we became engaged, I had come to you planning to end the relationship. After two years, and 10 years of friendship before that, I had come to feel that if you didn't know by then that you wanted to marry me, then you probably didn't. As Bonnie Raitt sang so poignantly at the time, "I can't make you love me/ if you don't/ I can't make your heart feel/ something it won't". While it was the last thing I wanted to do, I realized that the short term pain of ending the relationship would be better than continuing on knowing that you didn't want me in the same way I wanted you. But when we talked that night, you already had a ring, and had made your decision.
It is just about killing me to do something that I know is causing you so much pain. When we have come close to this over the past few years, it is what has pulled me back. But we have to take this path this time. The impact on both of us is too great, and it is nothing short of destructive to the kids. There has been enough of that for all of us. Bonnie Raitt is still right.
While I will be seen as the "instigator" to some, and the "villain" to others, I know in my heart this is where we have to go. Please do not think I am not feeling tremendous guilt and sadness. Just driving past our favourite restaurant, the one where we spent so many special evenings, puts me into tears every single time. Seeing ads for events and places that were important to us, that were part of our traditions, is so hard. These are things that will bring happier thoughts in the future, I am sure, but right now just cause a wave of grief to wash over me.
I know you feel I am giving up, quitting. I guess I am. But I feel strong in my belief that I have done all that I can do over many years. It was 2 months into our 20 year marriage that I felt I'd lost my best friend, so I know well the feeling you are describing when you ask how I can expect you to go on after losing yours - I have just had a longer experience with it. I so wish there was another way. I wish, with all my heart, that I could find it within myself to tap into something that would show me a new path, one we haven't yet taken and that might lead to a better place. But I don't see it. And so much damage has been done already to each of us. I cannot express how desperately I tried to find another way, and how deeply I wished for one to appear before me. There is just too much hurt for me to trust that we could start over. We are now in the final third of our lives, and I do not want to live out my days in this emotional climate. And I am deeply sorry.
It is time for the kids to have a different kind of life, and to experience a better role model for good relationships.
It is time to be happy. It is what I wish for you, and for me.
With love always,
Your soon-to-be-former wife and long-ago-lost best friend