April 21, 2013
Divorce is hard enough with the loss of the marriage and the dreams of what could have been. Tony and I are really working toward an amicable agreement. Our son is grown, we have enough equity and savings to allow for us both to not be financially strapped through this. We are both working our programs and wanting to live healthy, adult lives by overcoming our addictions and other compulsive behaviors. The latest test has been handling family. Last Sunday, he came to dinner at my house for his birthday. Will and my parents were also here. It was a bit awkward, but it went well. It was an opportunity for Tony and I to function as friends.
Yesterday I went to a wedding reception on his side of the family. It was the first time I was around the extended family since we separated. I was honored to be invited, and I was told that “they were not divorcing me” and that I was still considered part of the family. That was a very nice sentiment since I very much want to remain a part of their lives. For 25 years, I have lived and loved alongside the marriages, deaths, births, and various occasions. In fact it was 25 years ago this very week when I met many of them for the first time.
I got to thinking about that…I was 23. We were celebrating Tony’s 42nd birthday. Many of the cousins and aunts and uncles wanted to meet this girl that Tony was so enamored by. My memory is that I was happy because I was “the chosen one” by this long-term bachelor. I believed that I had a lot to bring to the marriage as a woman and future wife and that any family would be ecstatic to have me join their family. That was a bit naïve on my part, but an indication that I basically felt pretty good about myself. I think I was a bit insecure about my age, but was convinced of Tony’s love for me and that everyone would be happy for him now that he had found "the one". I was used to figuring out how things worked, and was pretty sure that I could do this wife thing since I loved him so much and believed he loved me as much. Oh, the dreams of those new to love, not jaded by life's experiences, pains, hurts, and addictions.
Thinking about how things ended last summer…I was now 47 and he was 66. Neither of us was happy, and instead of feeling special and cherished, I felt rejected. My sense of myself was at the other end of the spectrum. Fortunately I had begun to make changes to feel good about myself again. However just a few months earlier, I felt defeated, unloved, numb, an emotional shadow of my former self and yet 140 pounds heavier. Those years represent a big schism. I can’t help but ask myself “what happened?” That of course is a big reason for this blog, for my commitment to finding out the WHY, and for redirecting my behaviors and choices for the future.
I digressed a little. I started off this posting about family and I had intended to write about the value of relationship, and reflect on what it has meant to still be loved by those who are on the other side of the divorce. I want to be able to say to me and to others, “it is ok” and that there are no musts or rules about who we love and who choose to love us back. It is ok to feel awkward and to work through tough situations as we navigate these experiences. I chose to love Tony’s family and to remain relating to them as I have these past 25 years - my family. They welcomed me and learned to love me through my oddities and dysfunction. And we still are – making those decisions to love. Love is always a good decision. I can have gratitude about that. After all, it is the attitude I am striving to have.