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Take My Breath Away - the Terror and Joy of Life
I stumbled down the hallway the other day on my way to the kitchen to score a late night snack. Both the stumbling and snacking are something I do regularly. As I approached the living room I set my eyes upon my mom and dad sitting on the couch, holding hands, and watching a movie. I suppose, for many people, that sight alone would not take their breath away as it did mine. This short snippet of time, this single glance on my way to the refrigerator is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
We all have moments in our lives that we remember with incredible clarity, a clarity that includes not only what you see, but the sounds, smells, colors and lighting that existed at that point in time.
The day my dad cried as he crouched down in our garage, sat my brother on one knee and me on the other and told us that our grandpa had died, was one of those same moments. The day I walked into my mom’s condo and was shocked the incredible grief surrounding her just after she found out her daddy had died, was another one of those moments. Two days ago when I helped my sick daughter into the bathroom and she bonelessly sank to the floor in a faint; everything about that moment, the terror and the helplessness will remain etched in my memory.
This type of clarity does not always surround negative or traumatizing events. The day my daughter was born, the marriage ceremony to my love underneath a paper bell, making my mom laugh until she threw up and playing with my big brother when we were tiny tots – all of these memories will stay with me as well.
My parents went through an incredibly painful divorce over 20 years ago. Their divorce changed each and every member of our family. We all dealt with the rending apart of our family in different ways. Some ventured down paths of self destruction, while others took life one moment at a time. Thinking beyond that was impossible.
I am living in limbo once again. My husband and I have been separated for quite some time. We decided our marriage would end in May of this year. Even though the papers have not been filed, he has found a new love that lives across the country. I want to find myself in a place where I am happy that he is happy. Unfortunately, I am still struggling with thousands of questions that will remain unanswered. Did he ever really love me? Was he ever happy? Why did he stay with our daughter and me for almost 15 years when he told us every day how much he hated his life? His facebook friends comment daily on how incredibly happy he looks, what a great couple they are and what an amazing romance they are having.
In the meantime, while his new woman is lovely, his old woman is still here. We are still married and while he is off discovering a new and exciting world, my daughter and I are left to grieve for the family we lost. This is not what I wanted for my baby and it is not what I wanted for me. He and I used to talk for hours, but when I see him now he barely speaks and is almost unable to look me in the eyes. I have finally realized that I do not know my husband and probably never did.
My goal when we decided to divorce was to remain amicable, cherish our memories and to always treat each other with respect. I am virtually invisible to him as well as his entire family. Everything I thought I had, the people who had been in my life for so many years, all of it is gone, just like that. (snaps fingers)
My new goal is to react to my new life, my ongoing challenges, my husband and those around me in ways that will make me proud when I look back in 15 years. I might not have the chance to quietly sit with my ex husband in my late 60s and early 70s while holding hands and watching a movie, but that does not diminish the beautiful reality my parents have created. Our family was torn apart and broken, but with effort on everyone’s part, we have found new ways to relate and to affirm our love. Our paths all took unexpected turns, but we all managed to find each other once again. My parents’ new relationship is not perfect, but remains an inspiration to me.
My soon to be ex is on a new adventure. I need to make peace with the fact that, for the time being, his path does not include me or my daughter. So what do I have left? I guess what I have is hope. It is hope that this new adventure will, at some point, lead him back to us. We will all be changed, but perhaps we can find a new, positive ways to relate. I know in my heart that love is endless and has no limits. Maybe someday his years with us will matter to him, he will cherish the good memories and he will recognize that we can be around one another without having to sacrifice any part of himself.
For me and my daughter, I pray for peace in our hearts. We will continue to recognize the incredible strength and love we both possess. We are allowed to cry for what we lost, but mostly we are going to laugh, love and enjoy the beauty we are blessed with each and every day. The sight of my parents was a little piece of heaven on Earth. It was a moment that reminded me to keep love in my heart, forgiveness in my mind and realize that life may be ever changing, but it is to be valued and appreciated no matter what challenges come my way. Whether it is the bliss of a cool breeze, the taste of my favorite chocolate or feeling my daughter’s hand in mine – I will remain open to all of the beautiful moments that take my breath away.