Future Performance Anxiety

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are days we can be overtaken, we feel paralyzed by a single emotion and can’t move. Usually when this happens the emotion simply rolls over us, doesn’t really matter whether we are prepared, it comes in and takes over, intelligence is locked up, pragmatism sent to sit in a corner with dunce cap on; we are reduced by our feelings to a primal state.

Do you know what I am talking about, those feelings we get every now and then in our lives? They don’t have to be the terrible ones; just the ones that make us stop everything. As a woman, I suspect I give in to these moments of madness more easily or maybe, it is I admit to them more openly. I am not ashamed I have an emotional life; my heart still beats and still bleeds. It is my hope because I can still be hurt I am also able to feel great joy and someday perhaps great love as well. I am grateful (I think) I live alone right now; this way when I am paralyzed no one is here to witness; that is unless I tell them. Usually I tell, admitting to weakness because I need a good, swift kick in my hindquarters.

Even when everything feels done, it isn’t quite over. Does that make sense? It is the absolute truth. On 13 December last year, my husband walked out of our marriage for the second time. Without a note, a backward glance or a goodbye, he had his reasons and whether they were good, bad or true they were his. At that time, on that day I was paralyzed by grief.

For weeks, I was paralyzed by grief. I mourned the loss of the future I had planned with him, a future I though we had both planned. The sad reality was of course, we were truly traveling on very different courses.

Then I started to see the truth. The truth of our marriage and that future, my grief changed and with it, my paralysis lifted. I started to breathe again. I won’t say it was immediate, I still had days of sadness, moments when the grief would settle on my shoulders. Those days though, they became fewer and the weight of the grief became less.

I rejected his assessment of blame. I rejected his harsh judgment of me. I rejected his assessment of our marriage; it was a false vision of all three. It was in fact self-serving, selfish and cruel.

I did all of those things through pragmatic reason, setting aside my emotional response to the blame game he played and I all too easily fell into.

Until last night, when I asked him to sign divorce papers, divorce papers that would sever our marriage both legally and financially. Allowing each of us to retain debt and assets that were individually ours, no division of any property. Asking him to do this without a fight so our marriage could finally end, using only one attorney which I would happily pay for.

The blame game started up again. Despite where I thought I was emotionally, it hurt. I don’t know why it hurt, my heart cracked a little again and with it, the grief came roaring to the surface. Perhaps it was the memories of before, of those early days.

Maybe it was the memory of the dreams, or maybe it was simply this wasn’t where I wanted to be and now I have to learn all over again how to live in this world without the safety net marriage creates. I admit, there are things I miss and maybe this is part of my fury, part of what I grieve for.

I miss arms around me in the night, holding me as I fall asleep.

I miss someone to talk to after a hard day, someone who listens to my rages and laughs at me.

I miss going out to dinner and talking.

I miss someone to share coffee with in the morning.


I miss cooking for someone who appreciates that I have taken the time.

I miss having a travel partner.

I miss someone to dream big with.

I miss laughing over stupid jokes.

I miss someone to share the hard stuff with, whether it is my physical limitations or simple household stuff.

I miss someone who makes sure I don’t fall out of bed during a seizure, worrying about me when I travel alone.

I miss phone calls just because.

I miss someone telling me I am beautiful even when I am at my worst.

I miss being loved, being made love too and knowing it is real and more than just that minute, just a nut.

The funny thing is, I have been missing all of those things for more than two years. I have been missing every single one of those things not just some of them since the day he walked back in the door from the first time he left the marriage, blaming me for every failure.

I am stubborn and hardheaded; I wanted my marriage to be forever. I wanted to fix what was broken. I did not want this ending. Unfortunately, this is the ending I have written because I am stubborn and hardheaded and I deserve joy, I wasn’t joyful, not for the past two years. There have been brief moments, but not moments of paralyzing joy. That is what has been missing, all along that is what has been missing and until now I couldn’t see it.

So, he has agreed to the divorce. We will proceed and it will be an ending. I was paralyzed this morning. I wept. I suspect those won’t be the last tears. Grief is a strange thing isn’t it. I don’t grieve because our marriage was perfect, I grieve because I dreamed and wanted the dream. Now, I think we can both move forward to different lives, different choices.

285This morning though, I was briefly paralyzed and in pain. Now, it has to be about moving forward again and getting to happy.


  1. Val, you really should have been a councillor as you have analysed yourself perfectly.. Now all you need to do is follow your own advice! 🙂 as you Move Forward… and Let the past go… let go of guilt.. the grieving will end. as other things and people I know will fill in the gaps…
    Time truly is a wondrous healer.. and I see you coming into a better place…. as you build your relationship with your self.. 🙂

    Much Love Sue xoxox

    • It is a slow, sometimes painful process. I am moving through it. Hopefully, as I move through it and write about it others can gain from it. It is why I throw it out there Sue.

      As always, love back

    • It is a slow, sometimes painful process. I am moving through it. Hopefully, as I move through it and write about it others can gain from it. It is why I throw it out there Sue.

      As always, love back

  2. Val, I know this post. I have felt this post. I have been this post. And I have good news. While you may suffer the pain of lost dreams, time will allow you to heal and bequeath you with new ones. New dreams that will allow you to see who you are meant to be. New dreams that will show you how far you’ve come. New dreams that will reveal that your happiness is a work in progress and that sometimes, the people that touch our lives aren’t meant to be in it forever. However, no matter what, that person will always be a part of you. Whether we like it or not, he or she will be part of what we were but, they will not necessarily be a part of who we are destined to become. Embrace the opportunity to feel your newfound freedom. Do it when you’re ready, but do revel in the feeling of weightlessness that comes with being released from captivity. Hostage to a bad marriage. Hostage to unhappiness. Hostage to what you thought was supposed to be your happily ever after. Your time to soar begins when you say it begins. And I hope that time is soon. Hugs!

    • Bella, thank you so much. I am trying, all that you have said here I am trying. Working through some of it is like rolling on broken glass yet still it is better than the alternative. Freedom wasn’t in my plans, so now I must figure out what to do with it. Strangely I don’t know how to act in this new life I have been handed, so I am stepping through it with eyes wide open and a small bit of fear. Honestly, who the hell thinks nearly 60 year old women want to be single and free? What do we know after a lifetime of marriage. But, there you go you take what life hands you.

      Thank you for your uplifting words. I will roll about in my shattered glass and see what sticks.

  3. You grief for the loss of dreams, as I once did. I am here to tell you that it’s okay to be single and it does not mean you are alone. It takes time, but you will get through it all. Your heart will break more, I unfortunately say that will almost certainty, but i am proof you will get through it and then rise to be an even stronger woman. I send you much love and wish I was closer to hug you!

    • I am fine with it all Christy, this is the last of it. I am sure I will continue to have these moments and I am sure it will piss me off. I am certain I deserved better. I have been through far worse and survived. This hurts and I am not enjoying it. It wasn’t what I planned, I don’t enjoy that either. Thank you my friend.

  4. What a beautiful post. Anyone who has gone through a traumatic breakup can relate to this. Mine was 20 years ago and I remember the pain vividly. It took a long time for me to recover and part of me closed down. Eventually I did remarry but even now (and I have a great life) I think back and can feel the hurt and yes even the rage. The good news is that I no longer wish it would have worked out (because it wouldn’t have) and I can recognize why it didn’t.

    • Kate, thank you. Truly I know it will not every stop entirely I just wish it would stop paralyzing me so suddenly and unexpectedly. I understand it, on a pragmatic level I understand it which doesn’t stop it from happening. I know it won’t go on, I even know these moments of regret will subside, I am impatient and want them to end now. I want peace.

  5. I think what you probably miss most is “The Dream.” Because all those things you say you’re missing are part of The Dream.

    The dream we’re all fed when we’re little girls of Prince Charming’s who will rescue and care for us. Of happily ever after’s and white picket fences. But what they don’t tell you is that not everyone gets it. Or maybe they do for a while and then it goes away, like dreams, which are fleeting. I’m so sorry, Val. I too once missed all those things you mention. I went through the heartache of breakup. It’s all part of the grieving process. Yes, you’ve lost the dream, but things will get better and you will feel better. You will heal. We humans are resilient, and thank goodness for that.

    • I am, getting better that is. It is just these damn stupid and periodic bumps in the roads. The buttons that get pushed you know? It is all the years, not wasted but spent.

  6. I understand where you are coming from. I haven’t gone through it with my husband but overcoming future performance anxiety is exactly what drove me to create a blog. I have spent a majority of my life paralyzed by my own emotions. Especially, the ones that seem to come from out of nowhere. I am putting massive amounts of positive energy into the universe in your direction hoping that you will use your incredible grace, sharp wit and amazing strength to continue to work the healing process in the best way for you.

  7. frigginloon says:

  8. frigginloon says:

    So its Speed Dating next, right? 😉

    • I am thinking I will just hang out without dating for a while. Much better answer actually. 😉

      • frigginloon says:

        Oh Val you spoil sport. It’s not that I want you to find someone new, I just think it could be a hoot. You know ripping through those men in 60 seconds and then writing about it 😉

  9. “I grieve because I dreamed and wanted the dream.”
    When my marriage fell off a cliff, I believe that’s what hurt the most. Not that I’d failed or all the things I missed in my marriage before the end but the darn dream choked me.

    That stone on your chest w.i.l.l. get lighter. Like the other comment, “NoBODY died.” It was the dream.
    Feel better soon, Val. Small steps. 😉

    • Most of the time, not all the time I am moving toward being fine in this state of single and alone. I am able to look toward a future in which missing those things won’t feel like a stone on my chest and I won’t trip over the hurt. Small steps toward creating spaces that are mine and rather than spaces we shared and are chasms of screaming echos, they are coming.

      I do, most of the time feel better.

  10. I agree with Ian. What kinda broke me outta that sad moment when going through a similar situation is when my mom said, “Honey, ain’t nobody died…” You’re gonna get better and be better. It’s a real tough process but it will definitely pass. All of what you’re missing, you’ll find it with the person you’re supposed to share all of that with.

    • No, nobody died. But dreams died, futures planned died and a marriage died. Those things, they are important and they have meaning. Trying to sort through those feelings, sometimes it is hard. I am better, most of the time I am getting to happy just fine. I understand why I miss things and I understand why it is just fine to miss them without wanting them back. I even know, exactly why it was so hard when I read back through what was said, I know exactly what hurtled me into hurt.

      So It is fine, I am fine and it is passing. But it is like eating hot hot peppers sometimes.

  11. I know it’s been painful for you, Val. Once you love someone you never really stop loving them. I still think about relationships I had in the past; reliving the best moments and wondering what I could have done differently at the time to ensure it would last forever. No, you can’t just get over it – like a bad cold. But, “DB” left you and returned to his mother because he had some kind of emotional insecurities. I mean, he ran back to his mother’s home?! I just can’t get over that fact. But, you don’t need someone like that in your life. At this point, though, realize you don’t absolutely have to have someone in your life to make it complete and whole. You’re a great writer, so you have a lot to give this world. Besides, if you feel the need to have a man in your life, just hook up with some hunky young military guy. They end up liking you mature gals because you don’t play games. Sometimes, “Mr. Tonight” is better than “Mr. Right.” 😉

  12. Being married isn’t perfect. Being single isn’t perfect. You can be lonely in either state. But being happy can happen either way too – and it will.

    • Agreed. It is the transition. It is the agreement with myself to make this transition as smoothly and painlessly as possible. It is finding and getting to happy, without the baggage. It is accepting compliments, learning myself and appreciating who I am, completely. All these things, I have to learn, again.

      I find the things I miss, well they are extensions of the things I want some day in the future, not necessarily with a husband though. I am finding I want to define a future that is mine. I am good with this.

  13. Discussing the divorce and going through the legal process would naturally trigger a set-back. So sorry that paralysis and pain had to climb back up to its initial height. Hopefully its descent will come more quickly this time around. The progress you’ve made may strengthen your resiliency.

    • Actually Carrie, it was a very specific set of discussions. It wasn’t the divorce it was a series of accusations and ugly fingers being pointing. It was ‘I would have done, if only you would have done what I wanted, sacrificed more, been more, given more.’ I didn’t recognize what set me off until later, I only recognized the crack in my heart, the hurt. I didn’t recognize what really was bothering me and what should have made me mad instead of hurting me.

      It is done now. We progress forward to the inevitable end.

  14. It’s a process. As I’m sure you know. You think you’ve worked it all through and here comes another emotional flashback. Hang in there. You’ve got this. 🙂

    • It is and this time it hit me between the eyes, unexpectedly. I didn’t know why, out of nowhere. It took a dissecting the conversation to figure it out, then when I finally did, BAM. All I was, well I was f’nking pissed off. So now, I am fine, I am still hurt but you are right, it is a process.

      • My sister just told me there was a name for this, it’s called “Grief Bursts”. She is in a grief support group because she was the main caretaker for my parents and they both passed within the last year. We have all had emotional outbursts hit us out of nowhere at odd times, and yes going through a divorce is experiencing grief, it is a loss. We don’t necessarily know what triggers them and that’s not really the important part, the therapist said the most important part is to go with it and get your grief out, feel your feelings. It’s the body’s way of purging things.

  15. Many many years ago, I endured a horrendous breakup – but that was with a girlfriend who walked out because she thought she found someone better. But a spouse of many years – this must be wrenching.

    I’m a bit of a clunk-head, Val dear, when it comes to handling situations such as this – but please know this – I have you in my prayers.

    Luv and hugz for a friend,

    • Eric, I think we are all clunk-heads when it comes to these situations. Whether they are own or other peoples. I think that is what makes them so hard. We don’t have the tools to do or say the right thing. Any time we end what were once loving relationships we want to hang on to the dreams we had and rail at the everything that went wrong. At least that is where I found myself yesterday. Heavy of heart and once again wondering where I had failed.

      I am grateful Eric. I truly am. Thank you.


  16. I’ve endured breakups, but I have never gone through what you’re going through, Val. It sounds very emotionally heavy. You invested a chunk of your life with someone for years and then you go through the hell of ending it. I hope that soon you’ll heal, move on and find yourself in a better place. I hope that ultimately this dramatic change will be positive.

    • I am healing, it is these growth spurts if that makes sense. Truthfully, change always hurts. There is no good way to get through it but to let the tsunami carry you forward and let the hurt roll over you and then stand back up. I hope, it gets easier. Actually, I know it gets easier. I know why this one hurt so badly. I talk about it here, maybe someone reads it and they realize they can get through too.

  17. Grief is part of the body healing process. It doesn’t feel good, but if we don’t allow it to take it’s course those locked up feelings slowly destroy us mentally and physically. I understand grief and know you are strong enough to come through this sad experience.

    • It is Ian, it is odd though how we process different losses. This one, because of what it represents I continue to try to ‘think’ through rather than simply allow myself to ‘feel’ through. I suppose this is simply part of my make-up. Then something hits me, those feelings wash over me and I am struggling again. I know in my head what they are, I simply don’t know always what to do with them. Thank you for your faith in me, I don’t think I can begin to tell you how much it helps to know people believe in me.

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