Thursday, June 02, 2005

confessions

I gave up living my life by other peoples' rules a long time ago.

I am about to discuss something I don't normally talk about, except with the people to whom I am closest, but I think maybe now is the time to let it breathe...

When my soon-to-be-former-husband was diagnosed with Schizophrenia a week after our wedding two years ago, my life came to a screeching, seriously whip-lashed halt. Suddenly, in addition to being a newlywed, I became a full-time mother and caregiver. He couldn't work so I worked more. I kept the house and yard up while working 60 hours a week, while making sure we went to the doctor every week, sometimes twice a week. Eventually, our house had to be sold and we had to move. The relationship became stale, resentful, cold, and very, very unhappy.

The worse things spiraled out of control, the more I thought about divorce. As soon as I talked about the idea openly, I was met with disapproval from a lot of people, including some of my own family: How can you even think about such a thing while he is obviously so sick and helpless? What about your marriage vows, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, which you made in front of God and everyone you know? How can you be so selfish? He needs you.

He needed me, but what I needed seemed inconsequential and insignificant, unimportant and unnecessary by comparison. Taking care of myself was dead last. I felt like I was dying...my spirit was drying up and disappearing, not to mention my physical self. I lost weight...I hovered near 100 pounds for several months. There was no color in my face, no light behind my eyes. Gaunt-looking and exhausted, I ignored the bathroom mirror at all costs, probably to avoid myself and the guilt I felt.

It is excruciating to tell the person to whom you are married that you don't love him and no longer wish to be married...that this marriage is dying a slow and agonizing death and you wish to be free to care for your soul before it is extinguished. The honest-to-God truth is that I didn't want to have to have a first marriage to fully understand what my personal limitations are. Like everyone else, I wanted to do things right the first time. Thus, the consequences for ignoring my heart and what my inner voice constantly whispered were insufferable.

What it really is all about is self-sacrifice versus self-preservation. I chose to preserve. I can't say people were stunned when I left my husband, but I sensed the head-shaking and finger-wagging, the frowns of admonition, the whispers and staring.

I have been an admirer of Ayn Rand's since I first read Atlas Shrugged, some years ago while I was still in college. I find her philosophy of Objectivism especially helpful and comforting whenever I feel a wave of guilt coming on. Rand said: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

So, I live my life by what I think is right and by what makes me happiest. I do not do things simply because they are expected of me, or because other people think I should behave in a certain manner. I have gained a tremendous amount of strength and self-reliance in the last two years from my experiences, and now I am proud to claim them.

LINKS:
*National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
*The Ayn Rand Institute - The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism

5 comments:

Ryan said...

Yay! Good for you. I'm glad you've honestly come to terms with all that's happened, and aren't feeling guilty for wanting to look out after yourself. People may call it selfish, but if you don't satisfy some of your needs, it will only result in resentment. If you don't take care of yourself, nobody else will. (well, except me. I will too.)

Cassandra said...

Thank you for sharing something so personal. You are amazing.

I admire you for following your intuition even when the people you look to for support didn't agree. What courage that took to face the "head-shaking" and "finger-wagging". Just wait, in a couple of years they will tell you that you did the right thing.

The world needs more women like you and Ayn Rand. I absolutely love her worldview. Have you read The Fountainhead? I enjoyed it more than Atlas Shrugged.

DC said...

I found your site from a link on Cassandra's site.

All I can say is I am in awe of your inner strength. You sound like an amazing woman.

battlemaiden said...

Thanks for all the love and support. You guys are awesome!

Matt said...

After ending my own marriage to a person with mental illness after 8 years, I could write a book for a response to your post. You've actually sparked some thought for some of my own blog content. Like you, it's not a topic I really love talking about.

I studied Ayn Rand's philosophy extensively, along with a lot of other stuff, during my separation and ultimate divorce. Her stuff isn't an easy study, but you gain a superior command of life in general after reading her work.

A couple of more simple, quick reads are "As a Man Thinketh" by James Allen and "As a Woman Thinketh" by Dorothy Holst. Actually, all of James Allen's work really helped put life into perspective for me after my years of hell.

Just my $.02.