I also want to make it perfectly clear that no one is to blame here. I could say it was my fault for never realizing how dependent I became on him... I could say it was his fault for never speaking up until it was too late... I could say it was both of our faults for not being cut out for traditional marriage... But I'd rather say it wasn't anyone's and we did the best we could.
Marriage... it's something I didn't give much thought about going into and have a whole lot in the last few weeks, months, years as it unraveled. I'm not sure if marriage suited me or rather, maybe I didn't suit it? I think the problem (maybe) was that I was stuck somewhere between traditional and modern without realizing it. As far back as I can remember I've been taught to be a strong and independent woman. You can do anything, you can conquer it all, the world is yours to do as you wish. And so I did! That role I knew how to embody and so I thrived. But what happens when you get married (which is change enough already) and you move to a foreign country where you struggle to find work, make friends and just basically rely on someone else to be your absolute everything? Walking into marriage with some traditional expectations without even realizing it while making it perfectly clear that I had no intentions on being a traditional wife, let alone a housewife (not that that's what he wanted either). Sitting on the sidelines and watching in frustration as the person you're supposed to love unconditionally thrives in his career and you experience an overwhelming mixture of pride/resentment for him and pity/anger towards yourself is something I didn't expect or know how to cope with. And it happens more than you think, just no one's willing to talk about it. Trying to find the balance when everything seems and feels and looks so off balance to you that you don't even know what it should be like, let alone know if it's possible to restore. Losing all faith in yourself, confidence on the floor, feeling like the world's worse wife and still you carry on with a smile on your face because surely things will fix themselves in time and if you don't say them out loud, then maybe, just maybe they'll go away.
Then we moved again and I had such high hopes/expectations (you'll notice I use that term a lot and that was one of my mistakes) for LA. This will be our new beginning, our chance at that honeymoon phase we never had except that for various reasons, that wasn't the case here either. You can't fix something without really evaluating the problem and simply treating the symptoms... Everything seemed so easy for him, a seamless transition into a foreign country and yet I continued to struggle. I didn't know it at the time but I had been dealing with depression and anxiety for a few years now and while everything was spiraling downwards quickly, I only blamed myself (sometimes/often him). I remember crying at thoughts of old me and wondering how I had gotten to be the way I was now, so sad and insecure. I used to be happy and full of life... what happened? Was it my fault? Was it my marriage's fault? I didn't know how to separate the two that had become so deeply entwined. Who was I? I was a failure therefor my marriage was a failure therefor I was a failure and the viscous cycle just kept on repeating in my head. Thinking back, he did everything he could and man I must've been hard to love. He tried and tried and tried until he couldn't which given the circumstances, is understandable. Dealing with someone who suffers from depression and anxiety is rough but dealing with someone that isn't diagnosed and keeps insisting that they are fine and can fix everything on their own, don't need any help thank you, is even harder! I was after all, the world's greatest pretender and fool them all I did. No one had any idea just how sad I was, him included. Sometimes I think I even managed to fool myself but I'll save the details of that journey for another post...
So after years of trying, we decided to separate. Or rather he thought it was best we did and I cried and begged and pleaded all the while thinking that he may be right. We still loved each other deeply but the way things were/had been going, it was only going to lead to more sadness and heartbreak. He said we should focus on our individual happiness and not try to force us anymore. Can you imagine hearing that from the person you love? And what was even worse was that I didn't know what made me happy anymore. Sometimes I feared that maybe I could never feel happiness again to be completely honest. "But I need you and I can't..." I would whimper. Surely I would die. And then I'd remember how when we first met and were falling crazy fast, head over heels in love with each other and I was at the height of my independence/happiness I told him once "I don't ever want to need you. I want us to be to individuals that chose to be together because we love each other"... shit, fuck!
I can be so reckless sometimes... reckless and stubborn... reckless and stubborn and blind...
I am an emotionally passionate wrecking ball that loves and feels too deeply always. I can spend years building something and then in a moment of anger/frustration/sadness tear it all down. The let me run away before you can hurt me more and I'll show you, I don't need anyone kind of personality that you love and hate simultaneously. So naturally that's just what happened. It was all or nothing in my eyes and in my hurt I decided that if he couldn't try anymore, than neither would I and I'd just forget him. Divorce is such an ugly word. It's daunting to think about, let alone say out loud. It's like they want you to feel like a failure with a label like that one. I kept trying to decide how to say it best for when you know, the world started asking. I settled on "we're splitting up"... felt less invasive, less ugly.
I think I may have been going through the various phases of grieving at this point... denial, anger, bargaining (I won't even embarrass myself further by explaining this one), depression and then finally acceptance. One day I was wandering through the Rose Bowl flea market and it just hit me, he's right (hate it when that happens!). The ultimate goal in life is happiness and that's what we should be after. If it leads us back to each other (which I whole heartedly hope it does) then that's great and if it doesn't, it won't really matter in time because at long last, we'll be happy. He used to complain that I never listened and he was right, I only heard what I wanted to hear. Fear of judgement and my own preconceived notions of what was right and wrong, black or white just didn't fit our situation. I needed to focus on myself and rebuild from within. Then and only then, could there be hope for a possible us in the future (after everything I am still a hopeless romantic optimist at heart) if that was the way things were meant to pan out. So I put on my big girl pants and announced to him that we could try the grey area, separation... not quite married, not quite divorced, on our own terms and by our own rules. I knew then that this would mean a lot of uncertainties, a lot of uncomfortable moments so we agreed we would try this as long as it worked for us. Then I asked myself where I would be if I could be anywhere and he wasn't a factor in my decision making and the answer came up from deep within my soul, New York. It's the last place I remember being truly happy and fiercely independent. Something about that city just challenges you to be your very best and I felt like I was ready for that challenge!
I decided this could be my chance to reinvent myself. To take the good and leave behind the bad because as much as I didn't like who I had become as Jackie Beale, new Jackie couldn't exist without her long and often painful journey. And the old Jackie Lugo that I had so desperately continued to search for, well I had to come to terms with the fact that she was now something of the past. Now I would be just Jackie... maybe Jackeline? Of course I did what most girl's would do under these circumstances, I dyed my hair, got some tattoos, packed my car up (and my cat) and headed east.
So anyways, that's the story of how the #everythingwillbeoktour was born, because no matter the outcome, I genuinely believe that everything will be ok in time. I have tears of sadness and happiness running down my cheeks as I sit here and write this all out, realizing just how far I've come and everything that it's taken for me to get here. It has been an incredible journey and I have had the good fortune of meeting some of the most amazing people along the way, each touching my heart exactly when I needed it most. And as bittersweet as this journey has been, I know that I can't have the good without the bad and I wouldn't be doing this without his encouragement. He always believed in me, even when I couldn't. I still have a long road ahead and I don't expect it to be smooth sailing but I'm ok with that.
So who am I now? I'm just a girl who lost herself in marriage and is on a journey to find herself again (with her cat), embracing all the adventures and bumps and bruises along the way.