More than 10 years after the fact, I can tell the story of my marriage/divorce with succinct clarity. I got married to my husband when I was 33-years-old. He had been married before and told me that he was divorced because wife #1 had a jealousy problem.
In the marriage, I thought he just wanted a mindless side-kick to be with him for whatever HE wanted to do. He thought I was far to in-de-PEN-dent (pronounced slowly as if a four syllable curse word). A couple years into the marriage he announced that it was time to have kids. I said “no.”
Seven years into the marriage, his best friend came to me to tell me of my husband’s infidelities. All of a sudden I understood what had really happened with wife #1. <insert big a-ha laugh here> After some dithering and poor attempts to fix it, we divorced.
After a couple of years of patching myself up and finding meditation, I started dating. I had very good reasons why none of those worked out. Here are a few examples:
There was the guy that brought a gun to the date. No, I didn’t feel threatened at all but certainly was surprised when he pulled it out. He thought it was necessary because I lived in the big city and he’d come from a smaller suburb.
And there was the date who I went snow-shoeing with. When the outing lasted longer than expected, I knelt at the door of my home to greet my dog and say sorry for leaving him too long. The date had followed me up to the door and muttered behind me, “Never apologize to an animal.”
There was also the very dear friend with whom I was unable to have deep conversations.
After these forays into dating didn’t produce a life partner and I was age 45, I made what I thought was a pragmatic decision to have kids on my own. In the seven years since I’ve had kids I’ve had a few sparse and isolated dating attempts but have largely left love of that variety alone.
That’s my story – and a story I fully believe and makes sense to me. But recently I was talking with a dear friend going through heartbreak. As I sat and listened to my friend’s stories, I realized that it exposed a deep vein of cynicism about love that I wasn’t aware I held.
The cynicism says – I’m not sure love is worth it. It also says that I have to do x, y, and z before I’ll be ready. And that its okay for other people to have partners but maybe not me.
Whoa. It’s like I’ve been hanging on to my story as if it’s a solid, accurate piece of truth and now I’m starting to suspect it’s a little more subjective than I previously realized. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t find my partner after I divorced because I didn’t want to. Somehow my joy for what I have and the optimism that I’ve been clinging to have covered over some walls I’ve constructed.
One of my close friends always says she found her second husband and love of her life because she believed she was worthy of love. For me, and for many of us that have experienced failed relationships, I think we might need to believe something similar:
I am worthy of love. And the love I will find will be worth having.
One of my favorite quotes about healing comes from priest and author, Henri Nouwen. After experiencing a loss of a significant friendship, Nouwen sequestered himself for six months and wrote journal entries that became his book The Inner Voice of Love. Towards the end, he comes to realize:
“Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past.”Henri Nouwen
That’s the problem with my story about my marriage and divorce. I am frequently grateful to my ex-husband for the events that put my on the path that I’m on. But it appears that I need to re-remember what else about love is worthwhile. That decision may change a lot about my future.
What do you think about love? Hopeful? Cynical? Do you think your personal story is rational or subjective or both?
For more posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)