What’s it like to get divorced after decades? Depends on the parties. Me? It’s trying to disconnect a one-sided connect. Years with one person places them solidly inside the mind and soul. The person flashes intermittently. You want to tell a story and his face pops up. Even though you know he won’t be listening to you. I was in the candy aisle at Five Below facing boxes of Jujyfruits. I don’t eat them, but I used to buy them. One day I was listening to an ad about a travel-size sleep apnea machine. I don’t use one. The chiropractor’s receptionist told me about a treatment for chronic pain that might be worth a shot. I don’t have chronic pain. I listened to info that had nowhere to go. I changed my contact for Medicare and looked at the date I had listed him. Last August. Wryly amusing. When I switched phone carrier last week and found other devices on the account with my social, I remembered his phone call last September. I updated the GPS last summer for his motorcycle trips with others. I talked to our children about his loneliness and inability to share feelings so they would reach out to him more. I left the Netflix connected so he had something to watch when he was alone. Those are things that popped up uninvited as I made changes. The memories urged me to feel like a fool. And then talking to myself I said, “You’re not!” Deny them power. There will always be that la-la land I lived in that holds more secrets, but I was forced out into the real world where most of them don’t matter to me.
And there is animosity. I don’t think it’s necessarily typical. I think it is built from how, when and where. It’s quite purposeful to build animosity because it fuels a fire and creates barriers. Keeps people apart that you never want to talk to each other. But if they would connect, you have already created distrust. Like fake news. It works beautifully. It’s worked before. I’ve uncovered lies in this last year that involved someone other than me, yet they are past and seem meaningless to confront. “What’s the point?” has been echoed too often. That works too. To become resigned to just live with it.
The future? If you find yourself thinking of a new relationship, look at exes if there are any. Listen to the stories. A person may tell you that the ex is crazy or manipulative or selfish or a user or doesn’t know what love is. And that could be true. And then again? Why lie? Figure it out. There will be other clues anyway. Relationships with children and family and friends and jobs and discrepancies. The answer for the future is often in the past.
But face it. The person most willing to discount less-than-desirable stories and overlook clues is the one in love feeling loyal and making excuses. And most of us can’t learn a lesson from someone else’s experience. Because we all believe we’re the exception forgetting one thing. It’s not about us. My best advice for me that I wish I had taken to heart in youth. Set boundaries and limits in your life. Not just with a significant other but with everyone. I had sliding boundaries and limits, especially with those I cared about, because I didn’t want to offend or be disliked or discarded. The people-pleaser who didn’t please me. And this isn’t about being selfish to please only yourself. It is about having a good two or more-sided relationship with people. Is it harder to say yes or no? Depends on whether your answer is really all yours.
Disclaimer: You know the song? You’re So Vain. Well, you might be tempted to think this is about my spouse. His strong imprint on me. It’s not. It’s about the difficulty of severance. It’s about writing someone out of your story and growing from it. I’m the vain one. It’s about embracing me.