Monthly Archives: March 2011

discovering the “parallel relationship”

Today, I am pondering the surreal quality of discovering that you have been engaged in a “parallel relationship.”  A parallel relationship, for those of you fortunate enough to not have encountered this particular brand of pain, is when the two people in a relationship are having completely different relationships.  The easiest example of this is the girl who thinks her boyfriend is totally committed and in love, while he’s telling his homeboys that she’s nice enough and the sex is okay.  These two people are not having the same relationship experience.  They might both be enjoying the relationship in their own ways, but they are definitely not on the same page.  That example might be the clearest, but I actually don’t think it’s the most common.  At least not at my age.

I think the most common version of the parallel relationship at my age has to do with the person who is simply looking for someone to pass the time with.  In the post-divorce, middle-aged world, companionship and sex are valuable commodities.  The once-married are used to having those things, and miss them when they’re gone.  So they seek out someone to fill the role, usually temporarily, to meet those limited and specific needs.   It’s kind of like a friends-with-benefits (FWB) situation.  You spend quite a bit of time together, have sex, maybe even meet each other’s friends, but there is no expectation or desire of it going any deeper.  It’s a great system, when you’re on the same page.  When you’re not, frequently a parallel relationship will emerge:  one party is going along, happily thinking that this FWB thing is great and lots of fun; the other party is also going along happily, feeling good about things but unaware that the relationship isn’t really a relationship at all.  It’s more of a friendship.  With sex.  It has a short shelf-life and absolutely no future.  Minimal investment will be made in the relationship — usually just enough to keep it alive.  Certainly not enough to take it anywhere further.

The dangerous thing about the parallel relationship is that you may not even know you’re in one.  When you first start dating, things are always casual.  You gradually spend more time together, learn more about each other, have more fun.  You might start to rely on each other a little bit more, maybe get more comfortable with each other, talk every day, spend time hanging out without having sex.  But here’s the catch:  you still aren’t in a relationship.  This could just as easily be a long-term FWB situation.  And you might not know it until some little action or word clearly spells it out for you.

Which is what happened to me today.

I have been, against what should have been my better judgment, allowing myself to get close to a man who will never truly care about me.  It’s probably not his fault, to be fair.  We can’t control our feelings.  Whatever “that thing” is, he just doesn’t feel it for me, and if I’m being honest, I’ve known it all along.  He has never exactly lied to me.  He has never “led me on.”  But I liked him and I thought that maybe, just maybe, there was some real potential there.  I thought this despite ample evidence to the contrary.  I refused to see the obvious and instead applied my own standards for behavior and engaging to him. I was thinking that we were seriously interested in each other and exploring what might (or might not) exist between us, but I think now that he was simply having fun with me, enjoying his time with me, all the while knowing that it would never really be anything.  We were having parallel relationships.

So now I am in that awful place of having to sort through the reality of what is, versus the dashed hopes of what might have been.  The reality feels heavy and empty and cheap.  The dashed hopes feel like sharp shards of glass that slice me each time I touch them.  But touch them I will.  I will pick up each and every piece and place them in the prettily-wrapped box in which they came.  Then I will take out my metaphorical Sharpie and mark the box, in clear, firm letters, “Nothing.”

And then I will carefully, deliberately make my own way once again, a little less sure of myself, a little less trusting, and a little less open.

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the divorced and the furious

Anger and I have never been friends.  I was raised in a household where the only anger tolerated was my mother’s.  Every one else had to be “nice.”  As a result, I grew up not really knowing how to constructively deal with my anger, so most of the time, I swallowed it.  And it became an ulcer on my soul called depression.  It wasn’t until, as an adult, I had a therapist explain a theory about depression that centered on the idea that depression is anger turned inward.  In other words, it’s anger with no place to go… for one reason or another, the anger you feel cannot be expressed, so you bury it and grow increasingly depressed.  This is a clinical depression, not a sadness or a grief, but a low-energy hopelessness about your situation that usually feels completely out of proportion to the actual facts of your situation.

Once I understood the concept, I had one of those beautiful “aha!” moments when something in your life just clicks into place in a way that completely alters your worldview.  This theory, I realized, explained so much of my life and the intermittent depression I’d struggled with privately.  I wasn’t sad, really, I was just very, very, very pissed off, but too “nice” to do anything appropriate with that anger.

Anger is still something with which I’m learning to get comfortable, and it’s not easy for me.  Of all the emotions, anger seems to me to be like that loud, bawdy, vulgar aunt who drinks too much at Christmas, burps loudly, and laughs at her own jokes.   There is no softness to anger, it is angular and sharp and hard.  It is unforgiving and unyielding, and it frightens me how it can be blinding in its extremes.   I realize that it is a vital emotion, and one that can be cathartic and cleansing when managed properly, but when I’m angry, I mostly feel like a newbie driver behind the wheel of a semi-truck — ill-prepared and dangerous, ready to roll over an innocent bystander at any minute.  So, I guess you could say I’m working on it.

When my parents divorced, my mother was outraged.  I am not exaggerating; there is seriously no other word for her feelings toward my dad.  His primary sin was that he didn’t love her anymore, and for this she was completely and utterly furious with him.  Now, my mom comes from a long line of Eastern European hotheads, and she did her ancestors proud.  She stayed furious at my father for 13 years after their divorce.  Yes, that’s right: THIRTEEN YEARS.  For 13 years, she seethed.  If his name was mentioned, her face and demeanor perceptibly changed.  Those who had anything nice to say about him were banished, and he became this horrible villain in her life story.  Fortunately for her (and all of us, really), an enormous falling out with me followed by some intensive therapy helped her let go of most of her anger.  Thank goodness.

Since my separation, I have dated plenty of guys who were divorced, and, not surprisingly, anger has been a frequent theme.  As expected, some of these men reported ex-wives who were a combination of Medusa and the Wicked Witch of the West, but I became adept at being an active listener and discerning what was real and what was pure emotion.    I learned to avoid the men who had a lot of unresolved anger; my experience with my mom had taught me that anger of that nature is ultimately visited on everyone around the injured person, and that’s a kind of baggage I decided to avoid.

That’s not to say that I don’t get pissed off at my ex or that I wouldn’t be in a relationship with a guy who didn’t have a fairytale happy relationship with his ex.  I’m not talking about the guy who still gets annoyed at his ex or thinks she’s a crazy bitch.  I’m talking about the guy who is seething.  The guy who has so much anger in his heart toward his ex that there probably isn’t room in there for anyone new.  That guy is, for all real intents and purposes, still in a relationship with his ex, as much as if he were still sleeping in her bed.  He is engaged with her, consumed by her, negatively infatuated by her.  And for any woman who is good enough to try to love him, he is a dead end.

The most obvious example of this kind of man was one of my first match.com dates.  We’ll call him Chris.  Chris and I met for coffee one morning and talked for over an hour.  He was handsome and interesting and seemed to smile easily. But as the minutes ticked by, I perceived that, despite his relaxed Colorado demeanor, inside he was clenched tight as a fist.  I asked about his ex-wife, and, at first, he claimed no hard feelings and enumerated some of her wonderful qualities.  I sat back and listened and, as often was the case, he kept talking.  And I saw that his smile, while easily worn, had a tightness about the edges, a sharpness to it that belied his inner anger.  He pulled at the napkin in front of him with a kind of controlled fury that I noted with apprehension.  He talked of her egregious behavior and how she had failed to honor her commitment to a life together until death did they part.  I finally interrupted him and asked how long they had been divorced.

Nine years.

They had been divorced nine years and Chris was still raging over her and the fact that she had left him.  Wow.  Needless to say, I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

Of course divorce makes people angry.  It might even make them rageful. A lot crappy things are done and said when a marriage is dying and a divorce is being born.  But what the two people do with those feelings and how much control they surrender to them and how long they hold onto them are all very telling.  Does their anger color their world view?  Are they aware of their anger or do they deny it? Do they ever consciously let go of that anger in order to make a new life?  Or do they allow the anger to consume them, so that they are living a life in the shadow of a relationship long over?

Last week, my ex-husband disappointed me.  In a big, big way.  And I was shocked at how quickly my anger and resentment toward him boiled up again.  I spent a few days telling all my friends (not our friends, but my friends) what an asshole he was.  I had bad dreams and journaled furiously about how perfectly this latest offense encapsulated my reasons for divorcing him.  I avoided this blog, lest it become a repository for my negativity. And then, after a couple of days, I was spent.   So, I turned away from him and my feelings about him and back to the life I’m creating for myself.  And in the last few days I’ve hardly thought of him at all.

I’m sure there isn’t only one right way to deal with the anger of divorce, but I know that this is the way that I’m dealing with it.  I’m trying to allow my anger to speak when appropriate, but to do so constructively and without malice.  As with any new skill, I’ve had mixed results.  But so far, I’m just glad it hasn’t become the centerpiece of my life.  Because anger held too tightly for too long creates a barren and harsh landscape, inhospitable to compassion and love and empathy and intimacy.  I learned this early and I learned it well.   Thank goodness.

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sex as communication

I had dinner last week with a good friend of mine who is worried about her marriage.  She and her husband have one of those marriages that I admire.  Not that they don’t have their ups and downs because of course they do, but their relationship —  after 18 years — is still based on a deep love and admiration.  I can see it when she looks at him, and I can see it when he looks at her.  Unfortunately, they can’t see it very well when they look at each other.

They are facing a crisis precipitated by a lucrative job offer she has received in another state, and decisions must be made, including the decision of whether he will be accompanying his family out of state, or staying here.  She is frightened and sad and stressed, because she loves him and doesn’t want to lose him.   Their main problem seems to be communication and emotional intimacy.  She wishes he’d communicate more, be more affectionate, and share more of himself with her.  He, I believe, wishes she would appreciate him more, spend more time with him, and focus more of her attention on him.

But for now, they are at an impasse, staring at each other across a divide carved deep and wide by their mutual retreat.  Each is waiting, it seems, for the other to make the first move.  And so they eye each other warily.

As I listened to my friend, I was reminded once again of the differences in how men and women communicate, bond, and reveal themselves.  My friend’s husband is a reserved man of few words, a former farm boy with a broad chest and good heart, and not a trace of metrosexual in him.  My friend is a strong and beautiful woman, a feminist who doesn’t exhibit her vulnerability easily, but admits privately how much she loves her husband’s masculinity.  So what can two people who are so guarded and self-protective do to close the chasm between them?

Get naked, I say.

Get naked and have sex.  A lot of it.  Often.  Be playful. Be flirtatious.  Be sexy and coy and freaky and free.  Talk and laugh and tease and admire.  Make love and fuck and cuddle and kiss for hours on end.  Walk around in your underwear — often.  Sleep naked.  Get reacquainted with the look and feel of each other’s body.  Be shameless and vulnerable and open.  Sure, at first it’s going to seem a little awkward, even stilted maybe.  And that period may last longer than expected, but gradually, very gradually, I wonder if the walls will slowly come down and the tenderness they have for each other will fill the chasm between them.  It’s sure worth a try, right?  What the worst that can happen?  A few good orgasms?

First, a short primer for anyone who has never met a man or a woman:  Women are verbal creatures.  Most of us communicate through words and expression and sharing our ideas and experiences and dreams and fears.  We can talk about the same issue or problem for hours with our girlfriends, turning it over like a puzzle piece, examining every possibility.  We feel grounded and rejuvenated and energized and connected after we’ve had “a really good talk” with someone we care for.

Men, on the other hand, are physical or tactile creatures.  They bond with their friends by sharing an experience together — being on a team, playing poker, attending a sporting event, getting drunk and rowdy.  They don’t usually tell their guy friends that they love them without simultaneously  slapping them or punching them.  And when they are with a woman they care about, they often struggle with expressing that.   I am forever amazed at how even some of my most articulate male friends fumble and stammer when explaining their feelings for a woman in their life.

It took me many years, and many patient friends and boyfriends, to understand that sex is often more loaded for men than for women.  For a lot of men, it is their primary — maybe even their sole — avenue to intimacy with the woman in their life.    These men convey a million emotions and thoughts and needs and desires in how they touch and connect with a woman in bed.

If you’ve had sex with enough men, and you’ve been paying attention, you can tell that how a man is with you is usually about more than his technique or his level of sobriety or his ego.  Many candid conversations with men have taught me that men really are different in bed with different women, and not always in the ways we women might expect.  Sure, maybe their technique is basically the same, but — just as in other forms of communication — it’s the little things and the body language that speak volumes.  The eye contact.  The way he touches you.  How much of his body he connects with yours and for how long.  How he behaves as you lie there afterward.

Women know all of this, of course.  We can all tell when someone is emotionally absent in bed, when they are “using” us purely for pleasure and nothing more.  Every adolescent girl comes to understand very quickly that not all sex is created equal.  But what I think escapes a lot of us — me included sometimes — is that if we’re not paying attention to those little things, we can miss some really big messages.

Last spring I was dating a  great guy, who also happened to be a serious player.  Really.  We had been good enough friends for long enough that I knew exactly how much of a player he was and, truly, his escapades were pretty extraordinary.  Shortly after we finally had sex for the first time, he did something that hurt my feelings, and when he asked me what was bothering him, I told him that I wished I’d never slept with him.  He acted like I’d run him through with a dagger.  I swear.  He got so upset, I was terrified that this big, muscular, hard-ass was going to cry.  I hadn’t said it to hurt him, honestly.  I just figured that I’d been one of his many conquests and, especially because we were friends, I didn’t want to be that.  When I explained that, he exploded.  How could I think that?! he demanded.  And then he  listed off all the things that had happened between us that night, all the ways that he’d tried to communicate to me that I was special.  And I’d missed them all.  Pretty much every single one.

That was perhaps my starkest lesson in sex as communication, but there have been others.  Most of us have dated a guy or two for whom sex is the only form of communication.  These men can be frustrating because they have often gotten away with using sex as a means of smoothing things over, and have never had to develop their other communication muscles.  When you try to talk to them about an issue or problem, they typically resort to kissing you or caressing you.  This is sweet, but it can also be maddening.  I mean, really, a little of both worlds is necessary, don’t you think?  Otherwise, the woman ends up feeling like the issue has just been swept under the rug, with the expectation that the orgasm wiped the slate clean.  This can be seriously unfulfilling in the long run.

Then there’s the sad experience of trying to reach a man through sex, only to discover that he’s not actually that interested in reaching you.   This is the sexual equivalent of screaming at a deaf man, and leaves you feeling just as foolish.  Remember:  you can’t connect with a man, through sex or otherwise, if he doesn’t want that connection.  This is the more mature version of the warning issued to teenage girls:  he won’t love you just because you have sex with him.  It was true then, and it’s true now.

As for my friend and her husband, I sincerely believe that they both desire to be closer, more connected.  And, as I reflect on our conversation over dinner last week, I wonder if her husband has ever tried to reach her, to create intimacy with her, to express something to her, and she has mistaken it for simple passion or kindness or consideration in the bedroom.   I don’t know if sex is the key to improved intimacy and communication for them, but I do hope they try.  Because whatever key unlocks that precious door can only be a good thing.

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if you need absolution, see a priest

Last year, a friend of mine betrayed me in a fashion that was so hurtful to me, it left me numb and shaken.  When he first revealed to me what he done, I thanked him for his honesty in telling me (although I would have found out eventually anyway), and explained that I was hurt and surprised and needed some time away from him.  He had, in earlier times, been a good friend and supported me through some of the darkest days I’ve faced, so I tried to get my head around his betrayal and find a path to forgiveness.  I did not want to lose his friendship and over the next several days, I genuinely struggled to find my way back to a place of trust and security with him.  But then he decided that I was taking too long, that four days was an excessive amount of time for me to be upset by his actions, and that I was making a big deal out of things just to make him feel bad and punish him.  We spent an evening exchanging emails in which he became more defensive and antagonistic, and I became more aggrieved and less sympathetic to his claims that I was mistreating him.  He accused me of withholding forgiveness just to be controlling and told me that I wasn’t be sensitive to his feelings.

At first, I was confused.  Was I being a royal bitch?  Was I some unforgiving, controlling shrew who allowed no room for mistakes or missteps in my friendships, as he said?  Was I really this awful person??

And then it dawned on me:  He knew that he’d done a terrible thing.  He had at first concealed it from me precisely because he knew that it would hurt me.  He felt guilty and bad about his actions, and he wanted me — needed me — to make it better for him.  Which is all fine and well, except for one thing: that’s not fair or right or appropriate.  It wasn’t my job to make him feel okay for having hurt me.  It wasn’t my job to absolve him of the guilt he was feeling for doing something he knew was wrong.  It wasn’t my job to pretend that I wasn’t hurting, just so that he could feel better.

I had every intention of forgiving him, and I made that clear from the beginning.  But I needed some time to process my feelings, to cry privately and care for my emotional wounds away from him and what had happened.  When he contacted me the night of the emails, I told him straight out that I hadn’t been in touch with him because I hadn’t wanted him to see my pain, because I knew that it would only make him feel worse.  He was my friend, I told him, and I had no intention of punishing him by making him share the space I was in.  But concealing my ache from him while I worked through it apparently wasn’t enough; I was simply not allowed to feel it.  I was supposed to be okay with it all, for his sake, and on his timetable, so that he would no longer feel like the jerk he’d been.  He didn’t want eventual forgiveness; he wanted immediate forgiveness.  In fact, he didn’t want forgiveness at all.  He wanted absolution, a complete clearing of the slate wherein we would never mention his action again, and I would go back to being his loving, trusting, caring friend again, without reservation or hesitation.

Absolution is a beautiful thing.  The mere idea that we can completely eliminate our sin and any consequences thereof is a comforting and idyllic concept.  Which is why devout humans look to a deity to receive it — because we simple mortals aren’t really capable of it.  The best we can achieve is complete and sincere forgiveness — the chance to move forward through our hurt and create a new tomorrow, leaving the scars of yesterday to heal over.  The expectation of anything more is, quite frankly, unreasonable and unrealistic.

None of us likes how it feels when we hurt someone.  We want their pain to be over as quickly as possible, and a sense of normalcy re-established.  But to demand it according to our needs and timeframes is unreasonable and unfeeling.  For instance, if I have cheated on a boyfriend and informed him of my infidelity, it is okay for me to then demand that he “just get over it”?  To accuse him of making too big a deal of it  just because I want it be over, past, done?   Do I get to dictate the breadth and depth of his pain, or did I relinquish that opportunity when I knowingly damaged our relationship?

Please don’t misunderstand: I don’t believe that a bad action grants the injured party the right to intentionally punish the bad actor through emotional or physical abuse, or to engage in vengeful retaliation, or to seize the mistake as an opportunity to gain on-going control and manipulation of the relationship.   In the wake of a serious injury to the relationship, it is certainly incumbent on both people to do no further harm to the relationship or each other.  Indeed, in that space, tenderness and compassion must be the guiding doctrines if the harm is to be repaired with the greatest speed and success.  But it is not okay, in my very humble opinion, for the injuring party to dictate the progress of the healing.  So long as progress is being made in a very real and sincere manner,  that should be enough.

A good friend of mine is currently going through something similar with a man she deeply cared for.  She is in pain and sad and grieving the relationship, and, merely 24 hours after breaking her heart, he is accusing her of being mean for withholding her friendship and “not getting past it.”  Seriously, dude?

Like I always say, if you need absolution, see a priest.

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happy meal for one

A few moments ago I made a vow to never again feed a man.  No more picking up the restaurant tab or stretching my limited culinary skills in order to prepare him a meal.  Because every single time I do, it ends badly.  Sometimes I end up crying; always I end up feeling foolish.

There was the guy who, after I offered to buy him lunch, informed me that he was still “emotionally involved” with his ex-girlfriend.  Or the time I dropped large coin on seafood only to be notified later in the date that we were dating other people.  And who can forget the time I watched the man I loved sit at my dining room table and suggest to me that we go back to “just fucking around” because “that was the fun part, before things got all serious”?

Tonight was pretty standard for my track record:  invited my guy over for dinner, fixed something that didn’t come out of a box or a cookbook, had the fireplace and candles lit, and as the night progressed, a chasm opened up between us that I can’t comprehend, let alone explain.

It is peculiar how food and men seem to go hand in hand with disappointment for me.  I can’t begin to understand it, and, as far as I know, for all the mountains of books that have been written about dating problems, this one has not been addressed.  So, I think it best that I steer clear of the combination.

At least with a Happy Meal I’ll get a toy.

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two years

This weekend will mark an anniversary for me: two years to the day since I loaded my earthly possessions in a moving truck and formally separated my life from my husband’s after 11 years of marriage.

The day of my departure played out like a suburban melodrama. I had scheduled my move for a Friday, so that my children would be in school, but that morning we awoke to find my youngest running a fever and generally feeling rotten.  So, my five-year-old spent the day numbly watching her mother extricate herself from the family home. Feeling her eyes follow me around the house that day was agonizing. My husband stayed home from work, ostensibly to watch my daughter, but subsequent events suggest to me that he would have been there anyway. That morning, he alternated between standing with his arms crossed, surveying the moving men as if insuring that I didn’t take anything to which I was not entitled, and whistling as he moved through the house taking care of small things with a kind of forced nonchalance that I found grating, but would have gladly suffered all day, had I known what was to come.

A month earlier, my husband had made it clear that, other than tossing all my clothes into trash bags and depositing them in the guestroom (“Was Daddy helping you pack, Mommy?” “Yes, dear. Wasn’t that nice of him?”), he was not going to lift a hand to assist me. So, I hired two strong Mexicans with minimal English and a truck to do the heavy lifting. They were kind and by the end of the day were offering sympathetic half-smiles of encouragement. They could see how much I needed them, I think, because my child and my Mexicans were witnesses to possibly the most hurtful moments of my life that day.

Of all the acquaintances and friends I knew, of all the women and men whom I reached out to during my 12 years in our town, only one friend offered to help me move that day. She arrived, despite her husband’s opposition and the disapproval of our mutual friends, in ready-to-work clothes and with a can-do attitude. Within moments, she had plunked herself down in my living room and was busily packing my china. Had I been less numb, her gesture of compassion and kindness would have likely reduced me to tears, as they did later when I was able to fully appreciate that day.

Next to arrive were the couple that my husband and I had been closest to during the last year or so of our marriage (we’ll call them Brooke and John, because those are their names). John came first, and joined my husband for a beer in the living room, as I bustled around them, removing items and apologizing (yes, seriously) for disrupting their conversation. And then later Brooke came sweeping in, right past me without a word, my former best friend who hadn’t spoken to me since I told her that I was leaving my husband. Just as I finished in the living room, the three of them followed me to the den, standing casually in the middle of room, and I was again reduced to shamefully collecting my belongings as I shuffled around them and tried to be as small and inconspicuous as possible. Even in that moment, I understood their need to punish me for daring to break a covenant that we’d all held so dear, and the nature of my guilt was such that I bore their condemnation with alacrity.

Like most people my age, I have suffered my share of intentional acts of meanness directed at me, but the memory of leaving my home under those circumstances currently surpasses all others. It was a cut so deep and painful that I could barely process it for months. Were it not for my Irish stubbornness and determination, I would likely have fallen apart, truly. Even now, it takes my breath away.

It was a long day. My friend had to return to her familial duties after a few hours, but my Mexicans and I worked until after dark. At the end of the day, I offered them each a beer from my new fridge, which they accepted ruefully and drank quickly. As they left, the older one turned back to look at me and ask, “You be okay, yes?” “Yes,” I replied, but I don’t think either of us was convinced.

That horrible day mostly seems very distant now. Within days of my move, a few kind couples offered various assistance and support, every single one of which brought me to the verge of tears. In those dark days, I saw the true character of many of the people around me. The people who surprised me pleasantly will never know the indebtedness I feel for their small acts of kindness. As for those individuals who were so certain that I was making a huge and horrible and unforgivable mistake, I have thought recently how perturbed they must be to see me now. They say that living well is the best revenge. I hope that’s true. It’s the only kind of revenge I really believe in.

I have often thought that how we feel about a milestone is more about where we are in our life and how our previous expectations fit with where we are, than actually about the date or occasion we’re marking. For instance, my 25th birthday – when I was broke and un-coupled and struggling through graduate school – was far more difficult for me than any birthday since, primarily because I was unhappy with where I was and frustrated that my life didn’t match the expectations I had for myself.

This anniversary is oddly sweet for me. The initial elation of freedom and blossoming possibility that I felt during the first year has passed, but so has the loneliness and doubt of the phase that followed. I feel like my new beginning actually commenced within the last three months, not two full years ago, as if I had been previously in a holding place, a benign purgatory of sorts, over the last two years.

One of my more colorful friends likens my recent history to a difficult birth. She invoked this analogy not long ago to explain to me that leaving my husband and the home we’d made was like detaching from the uterus and beginning the painful journey through the birth canal.  I pushed my way through, gradually, until recently, when I finally emerged, damp and blinking, into the new world I’d created for myself. In some ways, her analogy is a bit graphic, but I appreciate how vividly it captures the struggle one encounters when separating from that which is safe and warm and secure and embarking on a world that seems wrought with uncertainty and newness.

Of course I had certain ideas about where I’d be two years hence from my separation, and I can honestly report that not much of my life looks as I’d anticipated it. There have been losses, and regrets, and stumbles, but there have also been insights and gifts and love. I cannot honestly say that I would change much. True, I’m not where I thought I’d be, but I think there’s a strong case to be made that where I am is even better. And for that, I am truly and completely grateful.

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