“The life you had is gone.”
I would tell myself as a lament and in an attempt to force acceptance.
“You now have the opportunity to create a new life.”
I would continue, in a hope that optimism also operated on the “fake it until you make it” principle.
“You can now build a life you want. A better life.”
I was desperately trying to see the good in the devastation that had become my existence.
“But I don’t want a new life! I want my old life. With my husband. I want our imagined and planned-for future. I want what I had!”
The pain of loss and the fear of starting over challenged my resolution to move forward with the energy of an obstinate child.
I didn’t want anything new. Anything else. Anything different.
I wanted what I had. Or at least, what I thought I had.
When I tried to picture a new life, a life without him, my brain responded with the muscle memory of a comic artist who has drawn only a single character. All I could picture was him. I would see myself older and he, changed as well by the years, would be by my side. Like watching a silent movie, I envisioned the life experiences we would daydream about on long car rides or late nights on the deck. I saw things changing around me – new jobs, new homes, new friends. But always, he was the constant.
Even as I reminded myself that it was gone, I resisted letting go. I wanted what was known. Comfortable. I railed against the unfairness of it. The theft of my dreams among the obliteration of his promises.
“But it’s gone,” I reminded myself throughout these visions. “You’re wasting your energy. Throwing good money after bad.” I became my own drill sergeant. “Move on! Drop it! Let it go!”
“But if I let it go, I have nothing,” I whispered back at myself.
I tried to force a new identity on the man in my life vision, but it was like trying to fit a child’s mask on a grown man – it couldn’t block it all. I tried to blur his face in my mind, to smudge him enough that he could be anyone. If my inner voice and I had been female characters in a movie, we would have surely failed the Bechdel Test because all we talked about was a man.
“It’s gone. It’s gone. It’s gone,” became the words that punctuated my footfalls as I ran countless miles in an attempt to purge him from my body. At night, I filled the pages of my journal with both memories and pleas.
I held no love for the man I battled in court. He was a stranger. A monster. I wept for the man that I thought I wed. I cried for the loss of an illusion. But damn, it sure felt real.
But illusions rarely stand the test of time. Like most apparitions, it began to lose it opacity with time. I started to accept the delusions inherent in the former life I pined for. The old existence with its new blemishes no longer held the familiar appeal.
“I can’t build anything new until I release the old,” I was mouthing as I woke up from a dream. A dream where I was alone. Alone and happy.
“The life you had is gone.”
I reminded myself again. Only this time the words had lost their dreadful weight and were infused with a sense of curiosity.
9 thoughts on “The Life You Had is Gone”
Great inspiring article!
So much feeling – beautifully said. “I can’t build anything new until I release the old” – powerful!
I am still trying to believe things will get better for me. I’m living in poverty, he got our fabulous hose, I got a settlement and alimony, whooped. He changed my life forever, it’s hard for me to make lemonade out of lemons. I feel abandoned.
I understand that feeling. I was there too. Just on the financial side – he got the house (and let it go into foreclosure with my name still on the mortgage), he paid $200 of the tens of thousands he was supposed to pay me and I paid $80,000 over 5 years for attorneys and his debt in my name (all on a teacher’s salary). I had to take a long view of it for it to be okay. For five years, I had to live very close to the bone. I’m just now, nine years out, starting to rebuild my savings and feeling good about my credit score. I decided to view that $80,000 as a downpayment on a better life and it was up to me to ensure that it wasn’t wasted money.
He has changed your life forever. What you have now is your baseline. What you do from here is your choice.
Hi, thanks for your blog, oddly enough the topic of your articles tend to match the way I am feeling when you write them. As many others that read your blog I went through the painful discovery of what a covert narcissist means a year ago now. I totally subscribe your article about the life you had is gone. That is the only way to move forward. That and trying to get excited about the new things and people still to discover, it is not over till is over. Despite the losses I try to see it as a gain for having recovered my life and being able to be surrounded with genuine people who don’t need to wear a mask and lie about who they are to themselves and to me.
So, thank you very much, as you have been a place where I could go and read and feel somehow surrounded by others that knew how I was feeling. Life gets better without this kind of people, no doubt about it. Keep writing please. Inspiration is a powerful tool
Thank you for your comment:) I’m so sorry that you needed this blog, but I’m glad it was here when you needed it.
You read my mind and put it in words.. thank you..