I wrote this 8 years ago, at a completely different time in my life. I was in therapy at that time, working through a lot of things, including the end of my marriage. I found this tonight and decided to post it, with just a very few edits to protect those I love. Funny how much things have changed, yet how much they also stay the same.
January 23, 1998
I knew this before, without voicing it so precisely. I may have even mentioned it to people as an example. But a moment ago, as I was flipping through my Daytimer looking at the month ahead, I saw where I had marked the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death. Instantly, I was there. Two years ago, but still fresh when I close my eyes.
What I realized just now is that I do know the precise moment my marriage was over, the instant in which my decision was made. My ex was driving me to San Antonio for the weekend funeral, though he hadn’t been with me earlier that week when I was at the hospital waiting and waiting for life. He was trying to chit-chat and act “normal”, and even asked if I wanted to stop at the outlet mall. It was dark outside, and I remember watching him as he spoke. Watching a stranger. He had now switched the topic to my family and was inventing all the possible crazy scenarios that might occur with all of us in the same room together. Just for fun. He was cracking himself up talking about what if one of my uncles finally let loose on my dad. He went on and on, and I watched him silently, and suddenly I felt so hard the love for him die out. Just vanish. My heart went numb as my mind realized that I didn’t love this man, this man didn’t understand me or know who I was, nor did he realize it, much less give a damn. I realized I could not, would not spend the rest of my life with this person that I despised at that moment. I felt disgust for him, as well as sorrow. This was all an instant, one he was unaware of, and one that I tucked away somewhere until now, when I can look at all of it with clarity.
If I knew then what I know to be true now, as they say, I would have listened to my heart and my body and acknowledged my decision. It was my self that wasn’t ready to give up. Although ironically, that is when I did give up. I stopped caring, I stopped trying, I stopped thinking of a future with him. I began to realize over the next few months how fucking stifled I was, and how had I become so not me? So began the next year and a half of the ending of our marriage. The attacks I made on him, then the guilt. The blame he put on me, and more guilt. Always guilt. It was my fault, I didn’t try hard enough, I had grown cold, I needed help, I was fucked up, but not him. I lived like this for months and months, getting more and more numb and withdrawn, protecting myself with more and more weight. No one would touch me, not my body or my soul. I wouldn’t have it.
We stopped touching, in any way, approximately a year after my Grandmother’s death, in fact, about this time a year ago. It had tapered almost to nothing anyway; he was actually forced to take the initiative because I didn’t care anymore. I went through it, but was not really there. He repulsed me. Finally I said enough. When he wouldn’t honor that, I gave him the ultimatum--couple’s therapy or divorce. I was not going to feel stalked in my own home, and I was aware that it was so wrong, so absurd that I didn’t want him THAT MUCH. I knew that couple’s therapy would be the end, but I was finally ready. And surely, it took only a month before we were separated, then a week before starting the divorce. Time started moving for me again. There was grief, but also hints of joy that I at first tried to stifle out of guilt. How could I feel joyous about getting divorced? But I did. My sense of freedom widened, as did my group of support, my friends. I began to live again. Time started flying by me as my soul picked up speed. As I changed, as my spirit was freed, so was my body. My body went through an amazing transformation all by itself, just following the fashion of my new perspective, my new hope and joy. I feel the transformation culminated in my trip to Europe. On that trip I lived as the person I now am; I felt no dead weight from my past. I lived completely in the moment without analyzing anything, and felt free and happy and alive, all at the same time. I noticed details like never before. I felt the wind, smelled the city, listened to traffic mingled with foreign tongues. I felt myself feeling. I absorbed the experiences like a sponge, and I am still full, almost overflowing. This is living.
I believe that is a gift my Grandmother gave to me, somehow. The Sunday before her surgery, my birthday actually, she was saying her good-byes to all of us, even though we didn’t know that until later. She knew. She was ready. She wasn’t afraid. I remember so clearly her smooth face, her dark, wet eyes, her smile and little laugh. She hugged me good-bye, then pulled back, her hands still on my shoulders, and just looked at me with brimming eyes and her lips pressed into a smile. She just looked at me, and said softly “Good-bye, honey.” I said something to the effect of everything would be fine, I’d see her Tuesday before her surgery. But she knew. She gave me a birthday card, and it said “My Love Always, Grandmother”. That was very significant, in retrospect. For 26 years I’d gotten her birthday cards signed simply “Love, Grandmother”. Later, after she died, as the family was going through her desk looking for insurance papers, they discovered, rubber-banded together, a stack of birthday cards for everyone else’s birthday for the whole year. Signed and stamped. She knew.
I always think of her when I doubt myself or what I’m doing. I truly feel she would be proud of me. She lived a full, adventurous life in a time when it wasn’t proper to do so, and I know she would have understood bolting from a cage. She made mistakes and learned from them and then made more mistakes, but she lived her life. And I know she was with me too on my trip last year, seeing Europe from my eyes, experiencing my joy, so happy and happy for me. I could feel her.
I finally feel peace about her unexpected (for us) death. There is a reason and a purpose for everything, and I think I know what my lesson was. Do not waste a single day being sad. Live fully. Take care of yourself no matter what others say. Be an independent woman. I feel her strength through me also as I battle my other demons that affect me still. She would tell me to keep going, keep digging, keep fighting, until I find resolution and peace. So I will.
Day by day. Lessons, every day, if you know where to look and how to see.
Interesting I should discover this jewel from my past right when I'm on the brink of drastically uprooting and changing my safe little life... yay, Grandmother! She still sees...