June 27th. Were I still married, this would have been my 13th wedding anniversary.
All day I have tried to ignore the symbolism of this day. All day I have tried to keep my head down and just work, work, work through it. All day I have just tried to make it to bedtime and another day.
I tried very hard today, as I do every day, to forget. To forget about the dreams dashed, sacrificed or surrendered. To forget about the parts of myself lost along the way. To forget about all those times that I reached for him and my hand closed on nothing but air. To forget how empty and artificial my life seemed to me. To forget how it felt to be an afterthought, always. To forget about my fear that it is, just possibly, too late to truly have the life I’d imagined.
But I can’t.
Today, I find myself unable to turn away from the carnage that was my marriage. I keep looking back at it, part-amazed, part-disgusted, part-heartbroken, as it recedes further into the distance of my past.
I have spent many summers in tears. Something about summertime always brought our problems to the forefront… maybe it was the golden possibilities never realized. All the concerts never attended, moonlight walks never taken, romantic evening dinners never shared…. Maybe it was those things that left me deflated, acutely aware of my gilded cage that allowed me a glimpse of the world outside, but no access to it. I could see that people — other people — did those things, but we did not.
I once had a long conversation with a guy I was dating about what we missed about being married. We ultimately agreed that we didn’t actually miss all that much about our marriages, but we did miss — very, very much so — the hopes and optimism that had accompanied those marriages. We wondered aloud whether the giddy promise of new love could ever be as good in our 40’s as it was in our 20’s. We wondered if we could ever enter another relationship with such earnest certainty in its very rightness. We wondered if anyone could ever convince us again that we are truly special. We wondered if anyone would ever really try.
I held it in all day, this grief and loss and fear. This evening I loaded the dishwasher and did the laundry and kissed my girls to bed. And then I let the tears come. I’m not sure if I cried for myself or for my ex or for all the time irretrievably spent on a marriage too weak to survive. I honestly don’t know. I just know that it’s summertime and I still haven’t stopped crying and I’m beginning to wonder if I ever will.