This week has been rough, as I expected it to be. The 23rd is my ex-wife’s birthday, the first I’ve spent away from her, and also a time where we’d typically be at her family’s house in Chicago. Unfortunately due to the way my ex handled the split, I no longer keep in touch with any of them, so in that sense I feel as if I’ve lost an entire family. Her mom, dad, and brother, but also her friends that we’d visit with, her family’s friends that I’ve known for over a decade, her extended family. They’re all lost to me now thorough false villainy she imposed on me to somehow justify her own actions. It’s appalling, but mostly just so very hurtful that her self-image was more important than handling the situation with compassion. She cheated on me while I was grieving, and even I can understand her excuse for an exit from the complicated emotional state I’ve been in, but she chose to spin a web of false stories, and a white-washed version of the truth that not only made her look completely innocent, but went the extra mile to instill in people that I deserved it. It’s been brutal to say the least, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s not entirely surprising.

Anyway, today is especially tough because Christmas Eve was when we typically celebrated with my Dad. In the early years he would come over to my childhood home with a bundle of gifts. Sometimes we’d go to his mom’s house (Mammaw) and unwrap gifts there before coming back to unwrap more. Regardless, they were some of the best Christmas memories of my life. Later on, after he remarried, we would attend some of the best Christmas parties imaginable at his wife’s brother’s house. Into adulthood, we would simply go to his house to enjoy his cooking, which always meant chicken and dumplings, and his family-famous banana pudding.

I’m doing fine processing it so far, but the grief comes in spikes, like a random spear thrown in an ambush. Those spikes have come often this week for so many reasons, ultimately from my extreme sense of loss and loneliness, of the sense that things will never be repaired, that my life has become far too fractured. I know logically that it will of course get better, but this feeling, something that I feel has merged itself with my very identity, is that lack of trust I mentioned in my previous post. I don’t trust myself, struggle to trust others, and don’t trust life itself. Unfortunately in a sense, life has become my enemy, something that has prodded me and assaulted me far too many times for me to forgive, or to understand why. I’ve been fully disarmed, dismantled even. My armor has not only fallen away, but also stolen form me, and meticulously hidden.

I don’t think I’ll ever find that armor if I’m being honest, will never be as strong as I was when empowered by naivety. Yes, there’s irony in that notion, and of course I’ll be stronger in many ways, but I have been so grievously wounded that I know I will never claim the power of my original mindset. That mindset allowed me to love openly and completely, to give myself fully to my partner, and to believe them when they said they loved me also. Because I believed, truly, that this was the case, and was therefore entirely defeated, outwitted, and left with nothing but self-doubt. How could I have been so wrong in my true gut feelings? How could I ever trust them again? Further, who would be willing to be so patient to let me work through them?

Saying all this, I still have hope, as faint as the glimmer truly is. Sometimes I feel pressured to leave a positive spin, and for the moment I can’t honestly say I feel it’s the truth, but there are moments where I understand that things will be okay, that I will get strong again. And though I believe I will most definitely not don that original armor, and feel its truly gone forever, I believe new armor can be forged, beaten and frail as it may be.

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