Yesterday I told the story of what happened between me and my ex on Saturday. This got me thinking about how I never explained to him why I sought an annulment. Given that he has expressed pain about it, it became evident that I needed to explain why I did it, so I wrote him a letter. Overall I am happy with it. My only complaint is its length–I wish I could have said the same thing with fewer words. I hope he is able to hear what I am saying without feeling triggered. It might just be tl;dr, but time will tell. This is copied and pasted from the Word document, including the graphics. I edited out identifying information.
August 9, 2016
Dear [name of ex],
At the outset here, let me state that I am very sorry for how I hurt you in the past. I did many so many things wrong, and did many wrong things. I regret them all. Please forgive me. I know that you are also sorry for the things you regret. So let’s just wipe the slate clean on both sides.
Because I care for you, I thought it would be good if I explained why I sought the annulment. Before I do that, I will tell you why I did not seek it: I did not seek it because I hated you or did not love you.
I sought the annulment for a couple reasons that are very complex. Unfortunately, it will take me a number of paragraphs to explain it all. I wish I could do it more briefly, but I don’t know how. I want you to understand, but am worried. It is such a sensitive issue, and I might accidentally trigger negative emotions in you, which will make it hard to understand what I’m saying. Please bear with me as I work through this. It is not my intention to trigger any negative emotions; I just want you to understand. It can be really hard for me to express my heart, especially in written form, but I will try.
I am not blaming you for what happened, just describing what it was like for me. The annulment was not about winners and losers, so you did not “lose.” This point is very important.
First, the entire time we were together, I never really felt that we were together, really joined as a one-flesh union like the Bible talks about. There was always a blockage, like a wedge between you and me and I felt this acutely. It is why I would complain about [name of cult] and [name of cult leader]—they came between us. There were only two names on our marriage certificate, yours and mine, but it felt like there were three names, yours, mine, and [name of cult leader/name of cult]. It was a three way marriage. After 20 years I could no longer take it. There were many, many times I honestly wondered if you hated me. The wedge blocked us, because it made it impossible for me to see how much you loved me. I know now that you did love me, but at the time I could not see it clearly at all. Related to this is how I never felt that I could love you on my own terms; I had to love you on somebody else’s terms, terms that were not truly yours. I had to love [name of cult] as part of loving you. That offended me deeply and seemed profoundly wrong and unfair.
The second reason is related to the first. I wanted to be free to marry a Catholic man should I have found one, but I also wondered in the back of my mind if anything would transpire between you and I in the future. And I thought that if you and I were to ever date or enter courtship, we would need to begin with a clean slate. We would need to start a relationship on an honest foundation. This would have to exclude any influence from [name of cult], since that influence is what contributed to our marriage being poorly structured—according to Jesus Christ, a marriage cannot have three (or more) participants.
Here is an analogy. Do you remember how [name of a female cult member] has those small stones embedded in her arm after she and her scooter went down many years ago? Once I asked her about them, why she never had them removed, and she said that it would be very difficult and painful. Between the divorce and the annulment, that’s sort of like what I had to do. I had to remove a deeply embedded wedge, one that had flesh and skin grown over it and had been embedded for a long time. It was very painful for both of us, the kids too. I cried a lot. Did you? But like a painful surgery, it had to be done because the wedge between us was not part of God’s plan for marriage.
Do you remember a letter I wrote to you many years ago? I think it was sometime in the late 1990s. I said something about how hard it was to be a wife, and how I did not like being a wife. I don’t remember the other details. You kept it for a long time but do you still have it? Here is why I mention it: if you read it through the eyes of somebody who did not feel a one-flesh union with the man she was with, it may make more sense now. If I remember correctly, and it is possible that I do not since I wrote it so long ago, the letter was my expression of sadness, anger, and resignation over not having a one-flesh union. If you still have it, I would appreciate being able to read it.
I think I understand why you want me to reverse the annulment. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you believe that the wedge was from God, and you believe I lied to the diocese. You thought of the wedge as glue to keep us together, right? But I don’t believe that the wedge was from God because it blocked our love for each other and it blocked our one-flesh union, and I know that’s never God’s will. Also, I didn’t lie to the diocese. I kept a copy of the testimony I submitted to them. We could set up a time to go through it together and you can show me where you believe I lied. But haven’t we hashed through the bad memories enough in the 20 years we were together? And where did all that get us? But hey, if we need to go through it again, then OK, I’m willing.
I’m not interested in “winning,” and I don’t view you as “losing.” The annulment was not about winners and losers. It was about finding the reasons that explained how I felt for 20 years, and resetting the playing field back to a point of honesty and truth. Perhaps more importantly, we only have right now, this moment. The past is done, it’s over. Wouldn’t you agree that it might be better if we just picked up from where we are now and begin a friendship anew? The kids would appreciate that so much, and it would be healthy for them to see us interacting in a positive way. And we can do that, [our eldest daughter’s] wedding is evidence. I enjoyed your company at her wedding. It was fun to all be together. Proverbs says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” The wedge is gone now, but like after a surgery there is a wound, and it needs bandages and medicine. Friendship is like medicine, since it means joy and laughter, good conversations, shared memories. We have a lot of good memories and funny inside jokes that developed over the years. You know how to make me laugh and I appreciate that. I would appreciate us setting aside the painful memories, focusing on the good memories, and creating more good memories. Wouldn’t this be very healing?
I know this is complex, and that it is a very sensitive subject. I sincerely hope I didn’t trigger any negative emotions. That’s not my intention. What do you think we can do to help our healing, and the healing of our children?