Divorce and Self-Doubt: Did I Throw In The Towel Too Soon?


This morning, for the first time in a very long time, I got up, put on my exercise clothes, and went for a speed walk on the trail that runs along the old railroad tracks near my house. I gave a split second thought to saying the hell with it and walking to Safeway as I’m out of sugar and need more to make lemonade from the lemons life hit me with last week, but decided against it. So what I had to leave the job I so enjoyed. I’ll find another.

Walking, working out, was something I used to do every single day. When Stu was sick, exercising kept me healthy so I could take care of him. After his death, it gave structure to my days and kept the panic that raged in my brain to a low roar.

When I remarried though, my sixty minutes of me time fell by the wayside. Nudged, no, shoved out to make time for managing personalities and tension and tempers. I spent my days in fight or flight mode, ready to play referee at the drop of a briefcase or a backpack. The results were textbook.

I gained weight. I got sick frequently. Back to back to back bouts of strep throat. A sinus infection that migrated to my gums. Hip bursars discovered by a particularly prescient friend during a Jazzercise class that were quickly confirmed by a rheumatologist. (A rheumatologist! Old people see rheumatologists!)

“You see that?” she asked, circling a spot on an MRI of my lower back. “Your spine is collapsing.”

Was it old age? My turn to get the rheumatoid arthritis that runs in my family? No. It was the weight of my world, all my desperate efforts to keep everything on an even keel, crushing me. And my body was crying “Uncle.”

Sometimes at night, when my courage and confidence have the audacity to fall asleep before I do and my self-doubt gets its second wind, I torture myself thinking about the good times. The dinner parties that ended just before breakfast. The nights spent watching movies and, God help me, Top Gear reruns until we fell asleep on the sofa. The road trips filled with friends, endless rounds of Cards Against Humanity, morning wine tastings, and the discovery that a) I simply cannot drink during the day, and b) I can find a place to nap in any barrel room known to man (and probably those man’s yet to discover).

I have many beautiful memories from my two and a half year marriage, and a few indescribably painful ones of things I shouldn’t have tolerated for two and a half seconds.

We all know it’s unhealthy to focus on the lemons life hits us with but, on those nights when morning feels years away, and self-doubt has invited fear and second-guessing to the party it’s having in my head, I have two choices: concentrate on the moments that shattered my trust in my husband, or curl up next to self-doubt and worry,

What if I threw in the towel too soon?

Wrenching as it is, I choose to concentrate on the crap. Release the flood gates and let it rip. Relive every single second of every single stunning, out of the blue betrayal until I’m so angry I’m out of bed, making coffee, and muttering like a crazy woman, Throw in the towel? Am I insane? I clutched that towel. Cared for it. Mended the holes that man blew through it without a moment’s hesitation or a morsel of remorse. I loved that towel. I didn’t throw it in.

And I didn’t. I just put it down when it got too heavy and hurt too much to keep holding on to.

It’s four fifteen in the morning as I’m slipping into my sneakers and congratulating myself on surviving another long night. I’ve been through half a box of Kleenex and six cups of coffee and that latter fact alone means just one thing: today’s speed walk will definitely include a stop at Safeway. Sure, I need sugar. But it’s much more likely I’ll need the ladies’ room.

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3 Replies to “Divorce and Self-Doubt: Did I Throw In The Towel Too Soon?”

  1. Enjoyed your books, meeting you, listening to you, and now another chapter in Susan’s life story. You have been through so much, you never gave up while taking care of Stu, your sons, and many things I will never know, can guess at a few. You are a beautiful lady, educated, talented, and strong in so many ways. You will make it into your next chapter with a new look at life, laugh again, and make it with your head held high. You have sincere friends who love you. Your faith will see you through this. God bless

  2. Susan, I am the ‘no one’ on the wine cruise I took with you, husband and Bev & Mike. I enjoyed your humor and your optimism. Unlike you, when the towel got heavy I tossed it and bought a new replacement. When my anxiety got to ‘insane level’ I jogged until my legs could barely move. Suicide thoughts were never too far away. The only thing that kept it boxed, was the fact that I knew life was finite. I was not going to waste it because of a person who could be cruel was making me see my self esteem flush down the toilet. In many ways it is the fighter within and the courage that makes me move, take risks, enjoy others. You, I enjoy. I did not know about the divorce until I met your ex- in May. I kept bugging him about his beautiful, talented wife Susan….I swear, I must have repeated myself five times. He did not mention it until two weeks later…..
    I am now glad I belabored the issue….I wish you well. Hugs, No One

  3. I admit I tend to cringe at platitudes about lemonade and doors closing/windows opening. But I absolutely believe in Divine Purpose and that we mere mortals can rarely see the dots, much less connect them!

    I believe our lives are changed by our life experiences, especially by how our lives have co-mingled with those of others — even pets. I hope you can see that the “after” version of Susan is better — stronger, wiser, more resilient — than the “before” version. I send warm wishes to you and your boys for your happiness and success, not only because I like you, but because you deserve it.

    As for me, I realize, ironically, that were it not for your Ex I would never have met you or (most likely) read –and PURCHASED– your books. My life is richer. Hugs, Bev

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