What It’s Like to Be Me: All Falls Apart Pt 4, Fading Hope

For a few agonizing months, I was torn between the hope of reconciliation and the awareness such hopes would never be realized. There were signs along the way. I ignored them all. Yet the closer we came to the day she said things were over, the more obvious and unavoidable those signs became. 

My mental state also complicated things. After a decade of emotional abuse, my eyes were slowly opening to the manipulations and maltreatment I had experienced. However, I didn’t really feel free yet. I was committed to being married because I felt compelled to honor my wedding vows, despite all of the hell I endured. Growing up, I was taught that divorce was giving up, and you should never give up. Instead, at the expense of my mental health, I dug in and hoped for the best even while hope was fading.

This is a short song, lyrically speaking. Yet it captures my uneasy feeling, that self doubt common among victims of narcissistic abuse. “I feel like I'm just too dumb to get away from myself. I feel like I'm losing touch with everyone else.” No, I wasn’t dumb, just conditioned to think I was.
Staind: “Outside” 
Aaron Lewis sings with such conviction, you can feel the pain in his voice. The agony in this song stands as an avatar of how I felt for so long, knowing all my efforts were squandered. “All the times that I've cried, all that's wasted, it's all inside.” There was also an overwhelming loneliness. When Bekah left, I lost more than my wife. I also lost my support network. All of my friends were her friends. So I lived with the lyrics “All alone I can’t mend” more than I ever want to revive.
Family of the Year: “No Good At Nothing”  
I’ve been a wallflower most of my life. Seems I’m good at it. When this song opens with the line “I feel at home on the sidelines,” I know exactly what the songwriter means. There’s some resignation here, the sort only available through an honest assessment of failures. First admitting “my magic markers just weren't magic enough,” then “Can't do nothing for a lemon who's begged for a squeeze.” These metaphors spoke to my soul better than any pastor or therapist ever could.
Tedashii and Natalie Lauren: “Love Never Leaves”  
No matter how bad the situation, no matter how difficult the relationship became, I refused to quit. I couldn’t leave because I believed love would stay. Always. There was no drug abuse in our home. No domestic violence. And (as far as I know) no infidelity. Just conflict. I didn’t believe there was a good reason for divorce. The chorus of this song explained my perspective. “I know love don’t do the same way it used to, Strangers in the same bed, I know you’re questioning about life I know this, It’s all on your face. And lately, lately, we’ve been so distant, Baby I wish things could be different, Don’t stop searching for what were missing, So don’t walk away. ‘Cause love never leaves.” Ultimately, my conviction wasn’t enough. Two people must believe this to keep a marriage together.
Mr. J. Medeiros and Tara Ellis: “Holding On”  
“Dark days cold nights, This is what we’re going through.” These words have haunted me ever since I first heard this song. I have shared it in social media a few times since its release in 2009, and I leaned hard into this song about relational perseverance after Bekah and I separated. It begs a partner to hold on and promises it will be all right. Yet it fully embraces the frailty of human emotion. “From your brow to your chin your confession is that we are lonely, If we could only escape through the memories that take precious moments like these from a youthful heart.” If I needed any last shred of hope, I found it in this song.


What It’s Like to Be Me: All Falls Apart Pt 3, Still Trying

In the months between finalizing the legal separation and the inevitable request for divorce, I tried to fix whatever it was in me that was broken. The way I saw it, if we were to save our marriage, I’d return as a better man, husband, and father. I jumped through every hoop I was told I needed to clear. I bent over backwards to be accommodating. I lost some weight. I learned to grieve. And I tried everything I could to hold together what was falling apart. 

Ultimately, my efforts failed. However, I hope the work I did was not wasted. Bekah might not have been able to see the better version of me but the better me was saved for someone else. Bekah might not have cared about the changes in my life, but my kids benefited from those changes. All things work together for the good. 

Simple Plan: “Try”  
My road to repair began with the torturous process of self examination. It isn’t a pleasant experience in any way, shape, or form. When I heard lines like “I've made more mistakes than I can even count” or “I've been the best at letting people down” I knew where the songwriters of Simple Plan were coming from, that deep well of admitting all those things you don’t like about yourself. 

NF: “Wish You Wouldn’t”  
Maintaining a relationship isn’t easy for lot of artists. Well, a lot of things are difficult for artist. One of my biggest hurts was knowing I never had a spouse who supported my craft. And for her? I’m sure she felt like I was chasing a dead dream, wasting my efforts and misplacing my priorities. For NF, it’s rapping. For me it’s writing. Those things we can’t not do. Our artistic pursuits are different but I empathize with his struggles. She doesn’t like the long hours that don’t fit inside the normal 9-5 schedule, he says “I wouldn't be with me either.” She’s mad he took on new projects without consulting her, he says “I guess I was scared to see how you reacted.” He realized what took me far too long to figure out: “it's obvious that ain’t working” 

Fitz & The Tantrums: “Fools Gold”  
“Oh maybe I just wasn’t good enough to blow your mind, you know I’ve tried.” Fitz and the Tantrums open the song with these lyrics. Most people could probably relate to the unfortunate possibility of culpability at some point in their lives. In my failing marriage, it wasn’t a question of maybe. I knew I wasn’t good enough because Bekah told me. On the day she asked for a legal separation, she spoke words I’ve never forgotten, “Your best will never be good enough for me.” To heal the emotional wounds, it might feel good to sing along, “Maybe I just wasn’t strong enough to toe the line, make true the lie.” I’m only fooling myself though. There is no maybe, I wasn’t strong enough. 

Linkin Park: “Final Masquerade”  
When a relationship is ending, you can sense it. As hard as we may try to stave off the feeling of inevitable dread, we know it’s there lurking in the shadows. This is the emotional state evoked in me when I listen to this Linkin Park song. It’s easy to hear the pangs of an approaching ending when they sing “I don't have a reason and you don't have the time.” I saw my own predicament of unfulfilled expectations in lyrics like “All I ever wanted, Secrets that you keep, All you ever wanted, The truth I couldn't speak.” We all want something, and when things fall apart we end up with disappointment instead. 

Staind: “Right Here”  No other song adequately describes the pointless endeavor or my attempts to save my marriage as this song from Staind. “I hope you're not intending to be so condescending, it's as much as I can take. And you're so independent, you just refuse to bend so I keep bending till I break.” I bent a lot – often when I probably shouldn’t have. All of it was done under the belief my failure to bend would give Bekah reason to divorce me. By the time it was over, I had bent so much I was broken.