His Rock Bottom | Softer than it Should Have Been
In hard life circumstances, people often talk about hitting a “rock bottom.” This phrase is typically synonymous with the hardest parts of an addiction and recovery journey. Everyone’s rock bottoms are different. Certainly they would be, we’ve all had different upbringings, life circumstances, and family systems that have shaped us, and in many ways, the world around us. But one thing we know is that when a person hits the proverbial rock bottom, it implores a person to change. It serves as a catalyst to start to choose differently, and ultimately to live differently. It generally isn’t a soft landing from which one lightly and quietly tiptoes into a new reality, but I feel like that’s exactly what my ex-husband did.
Many months after finding out about my ex-husband’s infidelities, I remember the time that I hit rock bottom. It was sad. It was tragic. It was scary. It also forced me to start to make different decisions and not hit the repeat button. What was my repeat button? It was trying to trust again, trying to make it work. It generally played out like this: find an online date, drink too much on said date, abandon date, show up crying at my ex’s new apartment sobbing, and try to convince myself to trust and love him again. Only to be repeatedly hurt and learn once again his actions were not matching his words. In fact, they were directly contradicting them. My trauma cycle was on repeat. I did it for so many reasons. I did it for my heart. I tried it for my family. I certainly kept trying for my son.
Until I realized: he never shows up for me. He never once, not a single time, showed up crying in the middle of night (or day) on my doorstep. Instead of fighting for his marriage, for his family, or against his addiction and poor choices—he maintained self-interest as priority number one.
I cannot know his private moments or thoughts. I cannot know his therapy sessions or treatment. I cannot know his support group discussions. I cannot know his conversations with family and friends. All I can know is my experience and the tangibles of his actions alongside of those. With conviction, I can say it did not appear as though he ever hit rock bottom in spite of admitting he did so one time. He did not apologize with honest sincerity, not to me or to those closest to him. He did not show remorse with my family, whom he hurt nearly as bad as me.
Just what was he so busy doing instead of owning what he had done? He was starting his clean slate, in this order:
He got a new job. He dated a new girlfriend(s). He bought a new car. He attended a new church. He moved into a new home.
He did all of this in spite of not taking responsibility for his decisions that left so many in a wake of devastation and still awestruck of what transpired. Many people think that divorce would have served as closure. It didn’t; it couldn’t have without these important steps cleverly omitted from his process. My divorce served as just another task I had to complete as part of a long laundry list of “to-dos” to try and distance myself from the pain he caused.
What I have learned is that my situation is not unique. Many other women I’ve met and talked to have experienced a similar cold, sterile, clean-break of a partner starting new and, notably, never taking the hard steps to demonstrate accountability. It’s as if we have to accept that the important parts of life: morals - integrity - character, can be skimped over by the people we once loved most. It makes some of us want to scream, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!” but it falls on their deaf ears as they scamper around trying to arrange sparkling new lives.
I’m proud to say that instead of scurrying around to move on and cover up the pain and hurt, I try very hard to put in the effort. It takes more than time to heal, it takes hard work. The hardest I’ve ever done. A very likely and forgone conclusion of my own, is that if he ever indeed did hit rock bottom, it was only because he lost the person who his close family and friends thought he was, but it certainly wasn’t because he lost me.