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  • Marya Kazmi


Updated: Feb 4, 2021

When The anesthesia of love wears off, there is always the pain of consequences. You don’t have to be a stupid woman to marry the wrong man.

-Amy Tan “Saving Fish from Drowning”

Bear with me, this post is a little different from the previous ones . Part of what I know and I think every woman and man needs to know about the dissolution of a marriage is that nothing happens in one day, or even in one month or year. There are a million moments of jagged words, lost opportunities for effort, and hurt. It all adds up over time. Then the tipping point occurs and the person who recognized and felt that build up long before it was evident to their spouse, finally steps over the threshold between holding onto hope and the possibilities in freedom.

Men often go into marriage and relationships thinking the woman they are with will not change, so when we evolve and grow, they may feel something has been taken from them and hold on tight to maintain the equilibrium they need of the familiar dynamics and control.

In 2013 a fire was awakened inside me and the naive 20-year-old girl my husband met in 1998 was no longer the woman who stood before him. For my ex, I not only changed, but I was also starting to see my power. I was the first woman ever to knock him off his pedestal and hold the mirror of his shortcomings in front of him. Despite that, I still wasn’t strong enough to just walk away.

The journey to freedom took seven more years, countless more mistakes and sacrifices, and a slow painful release of the relationship and family I dreamt of and worked to build.

The possibility of my ex feeling discomfort led me to either hope for change all the time, or fear the possibility of abandonment. Both of which required energy and attention that I didn’t give to myself or effectively to my children. I needed to push aside my own hurt to create space for him to expand and own the moments and prioritize his comfort over my thoughts and emotions. Just as I now express my thoughts and feelings I had the words back then, but lacked the courage to speak them into existence.

In my journey of marriage I captured moments for myself and in the beauty of technology the cloud kept the story of the demise of my marriage tucked away in electronic notes. These are the thoughts I sat and would ruminate over while I contemplated the reality of my marriage and the pressure and fear that it would never change unless I made the moves to change it.

Here is the window into this world for me through the final seven years of my previous life as my past self.

Notes on the Journey: Suffering in Silence

July 2012 I want you to get therapy for your depression , inability to emotionally connect and work actively on things that will change our marriage. I will not wait another 11 years for you to go at your own pace of showing affection towards me and building a relationship. Stop using trust in me as an excuse, my age as your fall back or mistakes as a trump card. When you move on you leave the baggage behind and DON’T look back. I did it for you many years ago, so I know if you want something it is possible to make it happen. Think if you really want to be with me or just have a home with the perception of a happy life. I don’t want and don’t deserve to settle for sometimes affection anymore. I want a partner, a friend and a man who feels fortunate to have me as their wife. Just as every man should feel and many do for their wives.

August 2012 What you said: “What little you have and contribute to this?” “Thank God we don’t have daughters, what kind of role model would you be?” “You are like a daughter I never wanted” How we got there: Two days and a quick vacation later . . here we are again. The tide turns on a whim. We went from sitting down for a nice brunch at a special OC spot as a family with our little baby, to silence throughout our meal. Why? I mentioned I wanted to take a ceramics class. Something for me. Should I have responded that we should do it together? What would I expect as the response? Similar to when I suggested salsa lessons or working out. What is this? Is this a need to control me and my life? I try to put that thought out of my head, it seems too much for him. . . but then I don’t have any other explanation. I can understand not wanting me to vacation with girlfriends, or go out dancing, but why should I not be able to try a ceramics class or do things for myself. Why must I gain his approval, but mine is just a second thought for the sake of saying he did it. Does he really hold off on making plans until he has spoken to me? Highly doubtful. How long until I feel the independence of a woman with a family. It feels like never if I am still in this.

December 2012 New year new drama. Why expect anything less. This is one of the many ruined New Year’s Eves. I should now add this day to the many that come following. Including my own birthday. I understand that his own birthday is sensitive, but for my birthday to be the same. I don’t get it. Ungrateful and selfish These are hurtful words. I can sit and try to find the truth in his words or feel confident in who I am and what I bring to the table. This will undoubtedly be another start to a year and a birthday like so many before.

March 13, 2013 YOU believe I am selfish for . . . Working Studying Not giving into your whim for intimacy Not going above and beyond to connect Wanting to be happy Wanting to spend time with friends Relaxing when I can Not pushing a relationship with in-laws who don’t have one with me Not doing enough at home Not cooking when I was working Not doing laundry, dishes, cleaning when I was working/school/teaching Spending money on things that I want Making myself happy because no one else will It’s ok to be selfish, that’s what it is. While I still take care, love, support , guide, teach and spend time with the boys. I should love myself enough to make my life better, enhance my mind and enjoy myself. It’s too short not to.

March 28,2013 All we really want is. . . To be loved To be listened to To feel special and valued To be respected To be encouraged To be told all of the above as often as needed. All we really want is genuine love we can trust in

July 20, 2013

I have made a decision. One that was not easy, but the best given where and who we are now. Life is too short to be lived in misery or half heartedly. The only thing that binds us is our children. This weekend demonstrates how little there is between us and how this could easily be the norm for you. I want an alternative norm, On my own. We both deserve to be happy and at peace and right now we are not.

This is not only in response to last week. Our intimacy has faded and neither one of us has a desire to bring it back. We no longer enjoy each other’s company and make reasons to avoid being alone with one another. We have started to live and exist separately with the children.

I am not a victim, I have perpetuated these norms as much as you. We are equally to blame for years of denial and blindness to the reality of our lives.

Better has still only been tolerant of one another. We have done the best we can for our children. Despite what you have said, we are both good parents and in the interest of our children must do this sooner than later. They have suffered enough through our charade.

Let’s walk away from each other with dignity and respect. Let’s move on because it is time for us both to find happiness.

We spent 11 and a half years trying and working hard to build this life, but it’s not the right one for either of us. I will never be, nor want to ever be the person you desire me to be. And you are set in who you are as well.

We must be strong because this will not be easy for them or for us. I will most likely turn back and try to undo what I have said. But no matter how we overcome this if we do, no change will only result in the same feelings and moments in a few months or years to come. We have been in a cycle and will continue on this path if one of us does not make the difficult decision.

[It cannot be him, he is willing to live this life as a norm. You are not. Remember that.]

July 23, 2013

What does it all mean? Where are we now? Where are we going? For you it is trust based on a handful of nights. For me it is the friendship and warmth of a marriage. Who’s to know what should have more weight. But it is clear we are on two very different wavelengths. Do we search through the rubble for that ounce of common ground, or move forth and build separately based on what is most important to us. No one can answer this but me. Now what? Lost, lonely and confused. . .

July 28, 2013

When nothing changes it all remains the same. If I don’t make a change, he has won. He gets the benefits without the necessity of making much effort. And I am left more lonely and lost then I was before. I don’t want this life. I need, I want and I know I deserve more. What are my next steps? I have to move forward not backward or standing in place. Soon has to become now at some point.

August 2, 2013

“I am committed to us and can’t envision my daily life without you.”

Last night, he told me this as a consolation for days of silence catapulted by an argument over some tone I took, or words misspoken on my end. All I can sit here and think is where does that picture in your head leave me and what I need?

“I am committed to us and can’t envision my daily life without you.”

How? I am merely a body that lives in this house. Not someone who is acknowledged, given affection or even appreciated for the things I do.

“I am committed to us and can’t envision my daily life without you.”

Will I be in your life as a silent partner who should not speak about things that are your personal matters ( work and your family). Will I be a person that sits in a car next to you silently and still? Do you envision dinner conversation of few words if any, mornings jumping out of bed to avoid time alone, nights watching TV in separate locations or TV in the same room with no interaction.

“I am committed to us and can’t envision my daily life without you.”

What do you envision?

Does it match at all or come close to what I envision? If not then that is the message that we can’t do this anymore.

If you are willing to make it match then it must be a wholehearted commitment because otherwise we will return to this exact spot in a few months or another year but this time we would be dragging our children through it as well.

August 3, 2013

Last night was a turning point? How real is what I see and want to feel? When can I let go of my inhibitions and allow myself to feel safe and loved. Can this really be a change without more work? Family therapy, couples counseling? I am fearful and doubtful. The hurt and issues run too deep and have been a part of a cycle for too long to not heal with more drastic measures. I see his effort, but fear it won’t last and is momentary. The children cannot go back and forth any longer and we need to know where we are going now. How long before a change is truly a habit?

August 4, 2013

Two weeks have almost passed and we are still roommates sharing our children. No effort has been made to show or prove that there could be something to salvage or hold us together. Today we should be celebrating our youngest boy’s 8th birthday with family and friends surrounding us. Instead, we are parading a charade of a marriage with a thin cloak of tolerance toward one another. It is time to let go. This is not the life you or I want. I want to be loved. I want to be acknowledged and appreciated genuinely.

If it were me I would touch you and hold you. I would find the moments in the day to joke and talk to you. Beyond the mundane and routine.

I would offer to massage your feet or press your back.

A recap of where we are now . . .

Saturday July 21 Our son performed in his first play. I reached out to your parents to invite them. I suggested the children spend time with them. Your response was cold and indifferent. Your parents came to the show and left at the end.

Sunday July 22 I drove to Boston with our oldest and my mother for his first overnight trip away from home. That was different from the plan we had to do it together because you decided it would be. Tuesday July 24 We finally sat down and spoke. You shared your biggest concern was a lack of trust in me and the decisions I make. You brought up the evening I went out for my best friend’s birthday and multiple events from the past. I shared what I felt was missing between us and throughout the marriage. Your response was: “ I go and give at my own pace. If you wanted to, the change would be so simple and innate for someone you love and don’t want to lose. But I am not the person and I must accept this. I will. I have. I CAN!!! The evening ended and nothing changed. Thursday July 26 Even less communication Friday July 27 I went to my nephew’s 16th birthday party alone with the boys. You went out with a friend and reiterated your blatant double standards by driving after “3 beers and 6 shots”. I questioned nothing but offered to pick you up. Made a comment about how spending time with friends IS important AND you should do it more often. Saturday July 28 You made plans with work friends even after our plan was in place for two months to pick up our oldest from the airport on arrival from Boston. You knew because we scheduled this on March 31st when I bought his plane ticket. Our oldest returned and I went to the airport alone with our other sons. ( always a reason and an apology) Dinner together with no conversation

Sunday July 29 Separate routines. Same level of contact and conversation.

Monday July 30 You watched TV as I went upstairs and never spoke or stirred. I woke you up when you fell asleep to remind you to go to the bed because of your bad back. Without a word you turned over and slept the night on the couch.

Tuesday July 31 Same routine. You took all dry cleaning but mine.

Wednesday July 31 You BBQ and made no effort to spend time with the kids and me as we played the game of “Life” Just a little too ironic. You sat far away on the sofa and did not ask me any personal questions throughout the night other than to ask if I wanted ice cream. I can get myself ice cream. I want the other parts that make being a couple feel good, complete . . . safe. Silence and withholding love were weapons of torture that can be drawn out for weeks at a time. No explanation, no engagement, no consideration for the impact it has on me, or the dynamics of a home covered with the stench of tension and resentment.

March 2016 “You’ll have so many things to engage you if you’re born a woman. To begin with, you’ll have to struggle to maintain that if God exists he might even be an old woman with white hair or a beautiful girl. Then you’ll have to struggle to explain that it wasn’t sinning that was born on that day when Eve picked an apple: what was born that day was a splendid virtue called disobedience.” — Oriana Fallaci in Letter to a Child Never Born

When my first child was in my womb I made conscious choices to be better as a leader.

I wanted him to be a good eater, so I ended my boycott of tomatoes and embraced all food. In the hopes that I would model flexibility.

I refused money from his father who was uninvolved at the time, because I wanted my son to know how to be strong and stand on your own.

I completed my undergraduate studies while pregnant, through 13 months of nursing and two pregnancies, so that I modeled a strong work ethic and reaching goals.

Then I got married and had two more children within 3 years of each other. My only hope was to be a good mom, wife and meet the expectations of the man I was so desperately trying to get to love me. I lost the drive to change things and slipped into conformity, pleasing, and appeasing.

Eleven years have passed and in that time I have found my voice, my strength, and reclaimed the identity my parents raised me to honor and respect. Now as I imagine bringing my fourth child into this world I have to again make conscious choices.

But the stakes are higher and the impact can potentially be much deeper. I will have a daughter. In a household of boys, there will be a little baby girl to shift the equilibrium.

My decisions now as a woman, mother, and wife will shape who she will be in those roles. My relationships will influence hers. I am making the intention to reclaim my identity, my voice, and shut down my fear to just be in my marriage.

She will not see a woman who is limited by fear of someone else’s unpredictability and frustration. She will not see a woman that chooses to just avoid conversation in order to thwart a verbal conflict. She has to see better. I have to do more to be the woman I dream I can be. The woman I am when I leave the house and then hang up as I reenter. I am not going to be a simple agreeable woman who just does because everyone expects. I will control my life’s path and determine the path my children see and walk.

The boys and I have understood gestures to signal the time to retreat and rise above irrational comments. But what about a daughter? How do I hide her from a father who doesn’t see the bigger picture and isn’t willing to open his eyes beyond his limited scope? He’s a good man, until it means to stand up for a belief or speak out for those without a voice. She has to be stronger.

I was, because of my father’s influence. I want the same for our daughter.

June 2018

It only took three days.

Is it a mulligan if that is the end of all interaction that day? It was not triggered by any of the things you mentioned. It seems that it’s just because you didn’t like what you heard. Planning for our children’s academic future should be seen as a good thing. Taking initiative on things that I otherwise had not, is growth and progress on the very aspects you said I did not contribute to. In the end this helps us both. But now I am planning on my own because I realize I have to make it happen on my own. I didn’t say that, in fact I did my best to choose my words carefully and provide a context for clarification. Yet, the end result is the same.

That is the key to why our marriage does not work. You cannot handle hearing things that oppose your thought process. Whether or not you vocalize those thoughts. It leaves me speculating on how what I said was offensive or bad.

In the past I would appease and shrink who I am to provide more space for you. I no longer see that as a healthy option for myself or the dynamics of any relationship.

July 29, 2018

The first day of the rest of my life. A book has closed and now I am rewriting a new one where the central character is no longer someone else.

I have been given a gift to be born again and frame the narrative of my second life.

No marriage or relationship will always be good. Trials are meant to strengthen and teach you as individuals and partners. However, as you read this and a moment or thought resonated with you from the past or the present, think about the ratio of valuable and tolerable. If the positive affirming moments that build the foundation for a strong marriage are buried in moments of pain, fear, and looming regrets, then those will always be the moments seared in your mind and shaping the narrative of the marriage.

“In a world that wants you to whisper yell” -Luvve Ajayi

“You can’t leave lasting footprints if you are always walking on tiptoes.” –Leymah Gbowee

I am grateful to no longer have to engage in that mental game of guessing and wondering. I finally found my peace and am no longer whispering or walking on tip toes.


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