If statistics are correct, the majority of us will say good-bye to a spouse or two before we are through with our journey in the here and now. We grow and change, they do not; They grow and change, we do not. It is all a matter of perspective and probably the most basic "he said / she said" kerfuffle of all time, huh?
This whole partnership thing can be so very hard; So darned confusing and painful. And, if we are honest, many of us do it for way too long. We stay and try so very hard. We become heroes in the hardship of "hanging in there" and holding it all together.
What about that person we so loved and believed in? Where did they go, these life-partners we've said goodbye to (or should have said good-bye to); The man or woman of our dreams that we married with dewy eyes and committed souls?
I find that my love for the man I married is still very much there. The problems came when he became someone else; He failed to live up to my imaginings of who he was in our "we-ness." We had a make-believe "dream team" thing going on; The cultural imperative of the ideal marriage in "Leave it to Beaver" land. And I so loved the ME that showed up when I was with him; At least in the beginning.
Then that ME got tangled and mangled as I tried to live up to an idealized vision of maritime unity. The "she" of me and the "he" of him both morphed into less-thans as we fell so short of the "us" we thought we were creating.
I kept hammering away because so much time had been invested; And so many things were wrapped in that two-of-us. Mine had become a four-of-us family arrangement with homes and homes, children and schools, pets and pantries, in-laws and holidays, jobs and vacations.
I got disappointed and then I got heart-tired and then I got lazy and then I got scared. So, I quieted that fear with all the doings that "duo living" entails. A lot of discomfort can be quieted by routine and silence – my silence, his silence and the silencing of that inner voice. You know that one that you just keep slamming the door on; The one you ignore and tamp down with family events, television shows and "what's for dinner?"
I got used to it and I settled. I got neglected and neglected and time kept its march. Then one morning I really looked in the mirror and understood that the relationship I was trying to save was killing me. The reflected "bounce back" of the "me" in this broken "we" was a sad, lost lady with only my name riding her face.
It was time to turn off routine and put aside the "must get dones." It was time to really look at the dance I had been doing for so long. I took some long, deep breaths as I spent some long, deep time in thoughtful fact-looking.
Then I dropped a suitcase down from the shelf.