[Note: I like to find a quote that goes along with what I'm going to write about. I think I may have stumped even google. There does not seem to be any appropriate quote for "I-hung-out-with-my-exhusband-and-was-surprisingly-very-comfortable-and-at-ease."]
"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. I never regret anything that has happened to me in my life, whether it is making a bad choice, deciding to do something I shouldn't have, saying the wrong thing or not doing something I should have done... because all of these things have given me the knowledge I have today and helped make me who I am today... and that is one thing I will never regret." Al Franken
Life can be weird sometimes; take some strange twists and turns. But somehow I believe we always end up where we are supposed to be.
I had an opportunity to spend some time with my ex-husband this weekend. I'm glad to say that the hard times that contributed to the end of our marriage are well behind us. I consider this man to be one of my dearest friends. Certainly I've known him longer than most people in my life.
Waiting for his plane to arrive I was able to laugh about the circuitous route he took from Boston to Jacksonville. Seems he had a rather long layover in Miami he hadn't prepared for. This man was a Naval aviator who could maneuver a helicopter over a roiling carrier deck on a pitch dark night. He could find his way around most countries in the world with one simple sentence - uno mas cervesa, por favor. It makes me laugh to think he had trouble getting from Massachusetts to Florida. Amazing isn't it what used to drive me crazy (as if I was any better) now make me laugh? What a difference a few years can make.
As he stood on the sidewalk waiting for me to swing in, pick him up and swing back into traffic before the baggage police started blowing whistles and waving me on, I wondered if I'd even recognize the man. How can you not recognize a man you were married to for 20 years, the man you had children with? I needn't have worried. I knew who he was the minute I saw him.
Is there proper etiquette for greeting an exhusband? Do you shake hands? Hug? Kiss? On the lips? He leaned right in for a kiss. I turned my head a little too fast and placed my lips somewhere near his earlobe. But I car was moving so it didn't feel too awkward.
We exchanged pleasantries. How was the flight? How was Miami? Where is your mustache? I said to him. He responded politely then cut right to the chase.
"Are you happy?" he asked. It wasn't a question I was prepared for. Yet, I didn't really have to stop to think. "Yes" I told him with all the confidence I could muster, considering I live in a rather depressed environment and had recently spent half a day under my covers crying like a baby. But all things considered, except for the possible need for medication adjustments, I am happy. Much happier than those last few years we were married. So is he.
I believe clinical depression, like alcoholism, is a family disease. And like the Cymbalta ad on TV says, depression does hurt. It hurts the whole family. Looking back we had our problems as any marriage does. But I blame my depression for the demise of our relationship. We tried counseling and weekends away. We tried ignoring the problem and railing against it. Bottom line you can't have a relationship when one of the participants is fighting for her life. For that period in time, though I could have won an award as Co-dependent of the year, it was all about ME. No relationship can survive that. Well, maybe some can, but I haven't heard of it.
I took him to the home of long time friends. I thought I'd get to see the whole family but because we were late just one of the birthday girls, and her brood, was still up. Like the recent visit with my nieces, it was deja vu-ish to see this grown woman with kids of her own. What happened to the bald headed twin babies? The High School cheerleaders? Where did the years go?
We sat around the table, raised a glass of wine (or beer or Coke) to the olden days. It felt so good - so comfortable - to be in the midst of this group again. People I have loved for over 40 years, who let me go my own way for awhile and kept the light burning so I'd have a place to return to. I listened as a few tales of bygone days were told, but mainly I sat in the peaceful glow of friendship where no words are even needed.
Then it was time to go. Like Cinderella, my time away from my domestic/caregiving chores was running out. Thank God I had a trusty new steed I could count on to get me home safely. I drove down dark roads lined with moss encrusted oak trees. I've watched enough spooky movies to know that a woman shouldn't drive alone on deserted roads like that. I probably should have been afraid. Instead I was wrapped in a feeling of contentment I haven't known for awhile.
I thought back to times past. I thought about who I was then and who I am now. I turned on the radio and laughed as Bonnie Tyler blared at top volume:
(Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you're never coming around (Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears (Turnaround) Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by ......
Twenty five years ago "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was one of my theme songs. With each whispered, "turn around" that was sung, I waited (in my head) for my husband to turn around and see me, find me, hold me, save me. I may have been depressed, but I never lacked for drama!
As the song continued I remembered what day it was. I was within hours of an anniversary I thought I'd never forget. Was it a memory or godwink? Could it have been God's way of calling my attention to my blessings rather than my burdens? The day after the twin's birthday all those years ago (Aug. 23, 1983 or 84) was the day I thought I'd hit what people call bottom and decided I couldn't stand the pain anymore. The events of that day played in fast forward rather than slow motion. I could see the event for what it was - not a desire to die but a desire for the pain to end. When one is "living in a powder keg and giving off sparks" all they really want is to stop hurting inside.
Driving on that dark road just me and the music and my memories was kind of like making a memory stew. Good times, good people and a few heartaches mixed together with the spices of life - laughter, love, hopes and dreams - sprinkled with the salt of tears. Can you believe all this happened in the span of just a few hours?
I got home in time to put drops in Dad's eyes and tuck him into bed. I couldn't wait to lie beside my Sweetie and revel in my blessings. Mostly my heart was full of gratitude. Gratitude not regret. I am who I am today because I survived the bumpy roads and the trials. Even when it felt like I was alone, I was - I am- surrounded by people who loved me. It doesn't get much better than that. I'm a lucky girl.
Wishing for you a memory stew,