This is not a fairy tale.
I’m going to tell you a true story.
My husband and I have been divorced for a little over a year now, and this is what I’ve learned…
We wanted the same things and didn’t know how to give them to ourselves and each other. We couldn’t figure out the right language or behavior to keep the love we had for each other strong and growing and fresh. We married too quickly after just a month and five days of dating.
Nobody knows if they’re suited for each other in that length of time. You can’t have the sight that quickly for any soul. We were two decent people who ended up not bringing out the best in each other, so we hurt each other instead. I used to joke and say that I wanted Romeo and Juliet and he wanted June and Ward Cleaver. The reality could and should have been somewhere in between, but we didn’t have the tools at the time to make that happen, or should I say we didn’t know there were tools and how to use them.
Then life happened, as it does to all of us. We raised a much loved little boy into a wonderful man and then he went out into the world…and we were lost in the silence of all we hadn’t built between us.
Then the “200 year flood” came and we lost our home of 20 years. We relocated and shortly after that the pension that was supposed to kick in for him/us was with-held and that financial blow crippled us even further.
Having dedicated his entire adult life to serving the community that he felt had now turned on him, he became a very angry man. He fought for it and eventually got what he was owed including all back pay, but the damage to his perception, attitude and to us as a couple was locked in.
Five years of anger and bitterness and resentment takes its toll on even the strongest people. Our brains are wired for our survival, not our happiness, and we both shut down in all the ways that matter. My spirit was as broken as his pride; I hid in my writing and he hid in his hobbies. We did not know how to be there for each other.
We did not know how to fix us. We were too busy pointing out what the other was to blame for that we avoided addressing our own issues that would have made the difference.
So here we are. He has dated a few women, and I haven’t dated at all. He has lost his father, and I have found my parents all over again. Our son is Switzerland, as he should be. I’ve been to therapy to discover the tools I can use to be, do and give more in my own life and he is learning his lessons as well.
We are each growing painfully in our own way, as we should.
This is life.
My experiences since our divorce have taught me that the Treasury Department has it right when they teach that the only way to spot a fake is to put endless effort into the study of what is genuine. That way, when the counterfeit is offered to you, you immediately know it is not the genuine article. He has learned this as well, I believe.
I see it all around me and I know. My ex-husband is a good man. I want him to be happy. We actually talk now. I’ve had him over for dinner, and am helping him with his new puppy which is giving him great joy. He knows he can call me if he needs help, and I know I can do the same.
You don’t quit loving, it just changes form.
It makes me happy that we can begin a friendship that should’ve started 30 years ago. It does us both good, I think.
We were hard on each other’s hearts and pride. We both did a lot of damage to the other. There were times, in our anger, that we were not there for each other when we should have been. We are truly flawed human beings. We needed the lessons we’ve learned.
He is not the evil king or dragon in my stories. Those are metaphors for the damaged hurting parts of those who only hurt us in their misery. He is a good man. And I am certainly no benevolent queen or sorceress that benefits all mankind. Those are only metaphors for the very best of us that we can call forth if we choose to do so.
So, just this once, please forgive the lack of drama and imagination as I write this offering to you.
We each contribute something to the burning or the building of our bridges.
We get to decide where to put our efforts, and our rewards or consequences will present themselves to us accordingly.
This is Life.