I had an interesting experience last night. This summer has been an emotional and physical grind for me; it started out when I got dumped by my BF for a woman 10 years younger than me. Then I had high school graduations, summer internships, I bought a house, I moved, my close friend’s daughter was tragically killed, my business went from zero to high octane, I had some highly emotional back and forth with the BF, then I had major knee surgery which left me flat out for two weeks (literally) and then my daughter left for college. Did I mention that I couldn’t go with her to help her move into her dorm because of complications from the knee surgery? I experienced that life moment via text and Instagram.
And then last night I lost my shit.
My Ex texted me some logistical questions about the pending sale of the marital home, and after reading the text, a faucet got turned on and I couldn’t stop crying. I wallowed in a quagmire of despair for hours. The kind where you get a headache and hyperventilate and are convinced that the world – at least your world – is coming to an end. (I’m still not convinced that it’s not, but at least I have stopped crying for now…)
In the middle of this sob fest, my Ex walked into my house and found me prostrate with grief on the kitchen counter. I think he was so shocked that all he could muster was, “Is everything OK…?” before I waved him off and he went to talk to our son. I have never been one to show my emotions – particularly the messy and sobby variety. I have mastered the art of swallowing and hiding all my feelings – the good and the bad – and for him, despite knowing me for 43 of my 50 years, to find me emotionally in flagrante was so foreign that it rendered him speechless.
He returned a while later and asked if there was anything he could do to help, and if we should reschedule our discussion of pending logistics. At that moment something shifted inside me. In one of those rare “the moment is now” instances, I lifted my blotchy, swollen face and said, “No, now is a good time to talk.” And talk we did.
For the next few hours we discussed the past 20 years. I spoke openly to him for the first time about my affair, about what was going on in my life and his, about all the little grievances that had built up between us, about what had been right and what had been wrong in our relationship, about who we were and who we had become. And for the first time, what would have otherwise been a volatile discussion about finances and real estate practicalities and parenting roles, was a calm and quiet discussion with give and take and consideration of all things and no angry or bitchy words.
I’m sure any therapist or more emotionally evolved person than me (which is almost everyone!) is heaving a resounding “Duh!” at this point, but for me it was the beginning of a new and better relationship with my Ex. A lot of stuff got moved out of the way last night, and that made communication so much easier and more productive – for both of us. For so many years each of us has harbored a notion of who the other person is – or is not – based on what used to be. And clearing the air – laying bare my thoughts and emotions in front of him made some space for who we are now, despite our separate yet parallel lives.
I’m sure we’ll always have our hot buttons with one another – even happy and unified relationships have those – but for the first time since this whole messy and debilitating divorce experience was set in motion, I had a feint glimmer that I was really living in the moment, even if the present moment really sucks.