As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m remembering how divorce arrived on my doorstep like an uninvited holiday guest. And even though my life now is wonderful, there are still moments when the past sneaks up and bites me on the proverbial butt, the sting catching me completely off guard.
It’s been 10 years since my now-ex husband announced with flat, dead certainty that he didn’t want to be married to me any longer – that our marriage was “done,” as if we were a pie baking in the oven. Done.
This pronouncement came after more than a dozen of his family and friends had been in our home celebrating Thanksgiving and making plans for the new year. It came while I was still healing from the transplant surgery I’d had 11 months earlier and many things still took me a great deal of effort to physically do. It came without his ever mentioning the woman who was waiting in the wings to take my place.
I was washing the dishes when I heard the words tumble from his mouth like ice cubes clinking in a glass. He stood leaning back against the kitchen counter with his arms folded across his chest as if he needed protection from me. From us.
There were so many times after I moved out that I didn’t think I’d get through the next few seconds, let alone the next few years. I spent a good deal of the “being left, being chronically ill, wondering how I was going to pay the bills” days, weeks and months wrapped in a cocoon of sweet denial, but slowly, painfully, I woke up to the reality of where life had taken me. Like seeds from a tree being swept along by the wind, I learned to bloom where I was planted.
In all the loss, I found myself. Or re-found myself, as well as a treasured love that I’ll forever be humbled by, and I have no desire whatsoever to be anywhere but where I am now.
Yes, except for that teeny tiny part of me who still wants closure even though I know I will never, ever get that because he is incapable of accepting his part in the disintegration of our marriage. And because he knows it’s the one and only thing I actually want from him. It’s the last vestige of any tie I feel to the man I thought I knew, but didn’t, and I have no doubt I will sever that final thread. In time. When it’s time.
It’s not a linear path we walk when a relationship ends. We push, we pull, we trudge, we hold fast, we deny, we hope, we rail, we move forward, we fall back, we stand still.
We can be firmly planted in the present we adore when a scent, a song, a casual comment will remind us of the life we once had and suddenly we’re falling backwards into the past.
We are who we are in large measure because of our past. And sometimes that means revisiting what was. Sometimes that means pulling up a seat alongside our memories. It means lingering. Rehashing. Grieving again.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay. As long as we don’t allow ourselves to take root in yesterday. Because we don’t live there anymore. I don’t live there anymore.