But my life's progression to "spring" was blocked by an awful behemoth in my path--and I could see glimpses of this thing titled "spring", but I couldn't get there. So it has been a long, long winter, and I have been away from here for a long time. This thing, divorce, loomed in my life for a while, sat in my way, blocked my life and taunted my psyche. It was this big, ugly, hulking, ill-defined beast that sat defiantly between me, peace, happiness, future. It blocked the path between who I was and who I wanted to be...who I had the capacity to be. And avoiding it was causing me to become a person I increasingly disliked. So I introduced myself to it, squared up my shoulders, battled with it, and took it down. I ran, leaped, tripped, yelled, triumphed, paid (tears, money, frustration, adrenaline, fear) and then, officially---it was....over. The ink was dry. And truth be told, the marriage was over long before the divorce was--just as a piece of paper doesn't make you truly married, a piece of paper doesn't make you truly divorced. These pieces of paper simply symbolize what has already taken place in your heart, I believe. And they exist for the protection of property and children. That is all.
The initial months after my ex-wife moved out were a blur of pure relief, loneliness, freedom, calm, financial stress, happiness, and much needed solitude. I never looked back. I never doubted my decision to leave, not one time. I knew I'd done the right thing, as hard as it was to enact. As time passed, I dated a few women, but no one in particular really struck my fancy. I never found anyone who I thought was really special. Nice, kind, smart, attractive? Sure. But that wasn't enough to keep my interest in anyone in particular, and after a while the dating world was....tiresome. I had no real connection with anyone, no real chemistry. The thrill of being single, being free, being wanted, flirting was...getting dull. There I was wandering aimlessly around a romantic virtual world, without any real destination in mind. So I'd delete the app for a bit, roll my eyes, and drink/hang with friends. Onward....maybe someday I'd find someone again, but I sure wasn't in ANY rush--the very last thing I wanted was A Real Girlfriend. I didn't want to be anyone's person--I didn't want the obligations, the expectations, none of that. I wasn't sure I could do that again. Been there, done that, and in some ways----I'd failed miserably. It had been such a tall order before and I'd not measured up....right?
While I dated casually, I also worked to heal myself from the damage that our marriage had caused. I was in therapy, and I fought to delete the list of ways that my ex-wife had said I'd failed her, failed our marriage, failed our children--all by initiating the divorce, which was the only way to a better life that I knew (after thousands of dollars in marital therapy and two separations). I realized that I had recreated my self-image according to her feedback, not my self-knowledge (or the knowledge of others who really know me)--and I was angry and disappointed in myself for having done so. I had actually believed all of the things she'd told me about me--things she'd said over the years out of anger/need/frustration/hurt, time and time again, as I repeatedly failed to meet myriad unspoken and seemingly mysterious and randomly presented expectations and needs.
I didn't know what was true anymore, and it was terrifying. Was I Person A or Person B? I fought to redefine (rediscover, really) myself for myself, to believe my voice about myself instead of her voice/story about me--and it was impossibly hard at times, and I did not always succeed. Some days were interminably long and painful, and I worked to feel valuable, attractive, intelligent, worthy of anything--love, respect. I worked to make eye contact with another human, some days. I worked to summon the energy to go to work, to engage with my patients beyond lab data and physical exam findings. My therapist was my reality check, when I wasn't sure which way was up some days, when I wasn't sure who I was anymore. She was my mirror through all of this--she showed me the little tiny bit of myself that was still there, that was unchanged, the essence of ME, that was going to be ok--that had always been ok and that always would be--no matter what. Her unwavering belief that I would be ok was steadfast and solid; some days I counted on her belief in me far more than I ever believed in my own ability to be ok. I had to take her word for it. And I did. And some days, it saved me.
Fast forward a few months. The dust had firmly settled. I could see the good in life again. I realized that I am an ok person. I was in a new routine with life, work schedule, kids. I was single. Spring was ...here.. I think? I felt pretty good in my body, my mind, my heart. I'd dated a bit, and it'd been fun. I I was happy, and not seeing my therapist as much. The worst of things was over...life was looking good again. So I opened a dating app, while I was standing in the middle of my kitchen--and I don't know what made me do it, I just... opened it. And there was one of the most handsomely gorgeous women that I'd ever laid my eyes on--my inner dialogue was "Oh my goodness....!", I had a run of a-fib, and I sent her a message. And I wasn't so sure I'd hear back...I mean, she was so damn cute and...I'm just..me. But something about her simply took my breath away. Something.
Well, I heard back. And back. And back some more. And now we're heading into our sixth month of dating and I love her in a way that I didn't think my heart was capable of loving. Nor did I think my heard was capable of receiving such love. I have loved before, and she has loved before--we've been on the planet too long to not have, and the loves we have had have helped craft us into the humans we are today--and for that I am thankful for us both. But I've never loved like this before. It's different; it's more complicated. It's more complete. And I didn't know that this kind of love, this kind of seemingly unconditional love and non-transactional love--the kind of love where someone loves you simply for who you are--not what you do for them, the money you make, what you say or what you look like or what you provide now or could provide or anything else---could ever be a part of my life-I assumed it would forever be beyond my reach, that it wouldn't happen in my lifetime. Thankfully, I was wrong. "BB" suddenly landed in my orbit and I knew that spring had definitely arrived.
To be continued...