Monday, 25 April 2022 01:01

Loving, Grieving, and Letting Go

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I knew something changed when I looked back on the person I was a year ago and don’t even recognize her. When I think of being married, the idea is a foreign concept for me. It feels like being in the in-between-state of a dream and consciousness, not knowing quite where I am for a moment. Except I never really wake up completely. I’m constantly in the state of fog and fuzzy, the “almost aware” phase. 

You would think something like being married would be hard to forget. Afterall, I was with the person for nine years and married for four and a half. I constantly have to look down at my left hand as a reminder. The two bands of metal that once snuggly encircled the flesh are gone and my finger feels exposed and empty. 

I have formed a habit of looking for wedding rings on the fingers of strangers. Young, old, attractive, not so attractive, male, and female. When I am in line at a grocery store or coffee shop, I flash glances at the left hand of those in front of me. I think to myself, “Are they in a happy relationship? Are they having any problems with their spouse? How do they do it? How do they stay committed and loyal and in-love?”

When I see pictures of who I once was, I want to ask her, “What were you doing? What were you thinking? Why did you feel so empty inside that you made the man you married feel empty towards you too?”

I was stuck and he was stuck and neither of us knew what to do about it. After he asked for the divorce, I moved out of my house into a shoebox sized apartment. I have been living alone for over a year.

First, came the realization that I don’t need as much as I thought I did. I think having experiences is more important than having material possessions. I have traveled to places I’ve never been before. I take aerial silks and dance classes. A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of traveling on my own. I would have quit the classes after a few weeks.

I think that humans don’t change until they’re forced to. Maybe it takes an illness, a warning from their doctor. Maybe it’s a loss of a loved one through death or divorce. I started changing as soon as my marriage ended. I had to face the childhood grief of losing my mother and what it had meant for me growing up. I didn’t know how to grieve at that age. But when I lost my husband, both of the losses surfaced, and I had to come to terms with them.

I must have been unworthy of loving, or people would stay with me. The thoughts of being unworthy of love collided within me with the force of a tidal wave.

For more than a year, I felt this way. I blamed myself for my relationship’s failure. I would never be able to trust someone again after the betrayal and heartbreak I experienced.

Then one day, a simple story helped me find peace and comfort in my tumultuous world.

“A long time ago, there was a farmer who lived in a village. One day the farmer’s horse ran away.

‘Oh no!’ the villagers cried. ‘That’s such bad fortune!’

The farmer shrugged, ‘Maybe yes, maybe no.’

The next day, the farmer’s horse returned with six more horses.

‘Oh wow!’ exclaimed the villagers. ‘What good fortune!’

The farmer just shrugged, ‘Maybe yes, maybe no.’

The following day, the farmer’s son fell off one of the new horses while breaking it in and broke his leg.

‘Oh no! the villagers sighed. ‘What a bad fortune!’

The farmer shrugged again, ‘Maybe yes, maybe no.”

A week later the army came to the village to draft all the eligible boys to fight. Since the farmer’s son had a broken leg, the army didn’t take him.

‘Oh wow!’ the villagers proclaimed. ‘How fortunate for you!’

Once again, the farmer just shrugged, ‘Maybe yes, maybe no.’

 

The story is an example of what happens when something happens to us, whether good or bad. We react like the villagers, depending on the circumstances. If we react more like the farmer, with a neutral viewpoint because he know the story isn’t over, then we too would have less worry, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.

Two years ago, I was married with a house, a dog, and a warm body next to me in bed. But I was disconnecting from myself and my husband. Now I am living alone and finding my own worth in the activities I do and places I go.

You may say, “I’m so sorry. That must be devastating for you.”

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Our stories are constantly unfolding. They do not end until our last breath. We may lose people in some way or another, but there are still lessons to be learned from even the most tragic events.  

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