It all fell apart the week of the election. Things had been getting distant for months, even years. But the months leading up, I had been crumbling under the stress of this insane election cycle and what was at stake. I had also felt completely alone and unseen. We hadn’t had sex in months and more nights than not he would fall asleep an hour after getting home, without even taking our dog out as he had promised he would.
To be fair, the first year of residency is innately soul crushing. It’s 90 hour weeks of the most physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging work you’ve ever done and Spouse was killing it. Had our marriage been in a better place, it would have been tough, like second-year of med school, but we could have handled it. But the stress of residency just tipped us into an unmanageable place and it all became clear on election week.
Weeks before I had expressed my unhappiness and had not gotten the response I’d hoped for, so I decided to withdraw. I began investing emotionally in other friendships, personal hobbies, and my job. It was just too painful to invest in him and get so little in return.
Then Donald Trump was elected and Spouse got off work at midnight and texted on the way home that he just wanted to hold me and we would get through it together. He was hurting emotionally and all of the sudden he wanted support from me. The disbelief and pain of that week made it clear that we no longer had the emotional connection we once did. He wanted my support and I had withdrawn. We decided to separate that weekend.
The months between the election and today, the inauguration, almost don’t feel real. It was this suspended reality, a limbo with an end. Now, we’re settled into our separate lives and the personal work we each need to do and I’m really proud of that. We’ve been civil and respectful and even though we’re both in pain, we also both know this is the right situation. Either we will find a way to come together and our marriage will become stronger and deeper than ever. Or, this will be the beginning of the end.
I’ll never regret the years we spent together. Our mutual respect and true friendship probably carried us longer in this relationship than would otherwise have been possible. And I like that. Isaac is a good man. He really is. Whether or not he is a man who could be a true life partner for me is yet to be seen. The distance between us is not only his fault. I see a lot of things that went wrong and really we should have been much more diligent with our relationship.
But also, I’m realizing how much he was gaslighting me our entire relationship. I would often bring up the few things that really were causing me distress and he’d downplay their importance, promise to do better and then… nothing. And if there were things he needed from me, he never told me. He’s identified in himself a difficulty being open and honest about his feelings. I don’t know why I didn’t notice. When we first got together he was so open and honest and over the years it just vanished.
So today, there is much more uncertainty in my personal future, but also so much uncertainty in our political and social landscape. Both feel scary and unsettling. But I’m also feeling confident in my ability to navigate both, be true to myself and fight hard for what matters to me.