18 months and a lifetime later

Tomorrow marks 18 months since I’ve been in Harrisonburg. Wild how time flies.

A friend is going through a break-up that is very different from the end of my marriage, but is similar in some ways (I’m beginning to think that perhaps the ends of most relationships have many things in common, no matter the circumstances, but that is commentary for another day…). Watching that relationship end from the sidelines is bringing up a lot of, what I at least thought, were old emotions that I had processed and moved on from but that are apparently still much closer to the surface than I realized.

I guess that makes sense. When my husband left (he left first, then I moved) I had the presence of mind to know that I was going to respond to his desertion in one of two ways: I was either going to kill myself or I was going to white knuckle my way through to the other side. There would be no chance at any middle ground. I would either survive or I wouldn’t, and for a reason still unknown to me I chose to live, though there were many nights when the alternative was very very appealing.

I got through it by refusing to look at the past or plan for the future. I concentrated on simply getting through the infinity of present moments in each moment and didn’t let myself stop to reflect on how I had gotten to where I was, or where I wanted to go from here. I just couldn’t. I took everything I had just to get out of bed, shower, and show up each day to do anything else. Now that I’m slowly letting myself be a little more introspective up are popping difficult emotions that I would much rather ignore and pretend don’t exist. I’d really like to run away.

But I’m not going to. I have an amazing job. I have the opportunity of a lifetime to teach my own course at JMU next fall, and perhaps next spring. I live with the most high quality woman I know. I have a contingent of friends who come to my aid when the Swede gets grumpy. I need to stay put.

So. Time to get rid of the key to the house on Galen Hedrick Road. With lots of tears I took it off my key chain last night. At the time I didn’t realize that the last time I was at the house was going to be the last time I was there, so I still had the key. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it – right now it is sitting on my desk as a painful reminder, more of what was, though, and less of what could have been.

And to all the women out there who are facing the reality of starting all over again, without a partner, I don’t really know what to say other than if you hold on long enough there is life on the other side.

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1 Comment

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One response to “18 months and a lifetime later

  1. maria

    In the moment it has been almost impossible for me, at least in my own experience, to imagine how I could ever be happy–or even happier–on my own or in a relationship with different person when a relationship has ended at another’s initiative. Also simultaneously amazing how long that stage lasts–and how quickly it disappears, when it does. Whatever we learn through breakups and through the people we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and close with, those thoughts and emotions will stick with us and teach us that it’s the most difficult and beautiful thing to feel things deeply. And maybe we do a little better (or a lot) next time at the things we have any control over.

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