No matter which side of the divorce equation you’re on, there’s a nagging doubt rolling around in the shadows: Did I do everything in my power to heal our marriage? Was I giving it my full effort? Is this the best I can do?
I’ve decreed 2015 my year of exploration… not so much for physical travel but more for emotional travel. If it crosses my mind, I probe at it, even if it means shedding a few tears or feeling some sort of happiness or recognizing a loss. I FEEL IT.
I think about these memories/emotions/losses now because I’m not dragging them into the future with me. 2015 is the year of exploration AND shedding. Husband #1 may have been along for the ride in Marriage #2 but Husband #2 won’t be joining me in future Marriage #3.
The door closed…
My friend asked me why I gave Husband #2 a year of joyful visits and how I knew it was time to turn away. I answered her on the last part, “I could no longer see the future in his eyes.”
Prior to his leaving, I could always see the future. Or at least the one I imagined when we stood at the altar. The edges were fuzzy but the underlying theme was that we were together, growing old, two wrinkled hands holding on to each other, his beard snowy white, my skin creped and freckled, the two of us with deeply etched laugh lines around our eyes.
I would see us on a porch having lunch in the shade. I would see us on the patio enjoying our morning tea and coffee watching the birds. I would see us together traveling here and there to visit family, places, islands, museums, or just the end of the country road.
I would see “us”.
And then one day I looked into his eyes and “we” weren’t there anymore. So I listened for the future instead.
At first I heard it in his voice.
“We” could go on this trip next year. “We” would take things slow. “We….”
Then his voice changed.
“I’m getting a permanent job.”
“I was thinking about buying a house.”
“I’m going to the family reunion in the spring.”
Even as we drove around during one of our long weeks together, there was no more “we” in his words, only terms of individual lives.
During our year of sporadic visits and weekly phone calls I listened closely to the words and phrases he used.
“I’m not sure about my feelings.” A common refrain.
“I don’t want to talk about this now.”
Then one day as we drove around a beautiful lake, we spotted a house on the hill, the For Sale sign planted in the front yard. Out of curiosity, we looked up the Realtor information on the house. It was reasonably priced, affordable, with land and a view.
His words to me, “You can buy this house and I’ll come to visit you for the summers.” Followed by, “I’ll probably only stay in the bedroom with you for the first two weeks. Then I’ll stay out in the barn so I can have my space.”
The future was no longer visible in his eyes or his voice.
At least not a future that included me. Or should I say Full-Time Me.
So I tucked that tidbit away with a collection of similar sentiments he’d shared over the course of 2014 and continued with our vacation.
Fast forward to our last phone call – Sunday, December 14, 2014.
In that conversation I heard the truth finally come out, not some sugar-coated statement meant to manage me or to put another layer of “good guy” vibe on top of his façade. He got real:
Husband #2 could continue like this forever.
And based on his past behavior, that was his intention. I saw how he made decisions for us that didn’t include my desires or my input or my vision of the future.
Or even asking my opinion about such things. I wasn’t part of the conversation. Sure, he talked about these things with his family and friends, but not with me, the primary participant in his scheme.
I gave him the year I promised him and then turned away.
I no longer had to worry about the doubts in my head asking if this was the best I could do. He was already gone.