Friday, November 4, 2011

The Matter of the Rings



The matter of the rings.

Oh yes.

The matter of the rings.

The rings that matter.

The rings that no longer matter.

But they do.

But they don’t.

Oh boy.

The night after HOB told me, quite unexpectedly (to me anyway) that he was leaving our marriage, I cried myself to sleep and then awoke with a start at 3:30am. I knew, in my gut, without a doubt, that after he had driven off, he had taken off his wedding ring.

I felt it in my bones, but I prayed that this time my instincts were wrong.

I called him early the next morning.

“Please,” I said. “Please tell me you still have your ring on.”

Silence.

“Please.”

Silence.

Finally, “No, I had to take that off.”

What little hope I had left of saving our marriage died with that statement. I knew, then, that he was done. He was announcing to the world that our marriage was over, just hours after telling me that it was over. He did it with such eagerness, (maybe zeal?) Maybe not. In any case, apparently, there was no hesitation. Such a final act in so short a time--it still boggles my mind.

Tonight, more than two months later, my wedding band and engagement ring are still on my hand.

What’s wrong with me?

It’s complicated.

I totally get the fact that my marriage is over. HOB has made that very clear. There is no capitulation on his part.

This divorce will happen.

OK.

I get that. I do.

And I am beginning to be OK with that fact.

So why do I find it so hard to pull off my rings?

They are a symbol of a marriage that is, for all intents and purposes, over. The man who gave them to me does not want me anymore. I should be yanking off the rings and throwing them across the room.

And yet, these rings have been a part of me for 30 years. I have looked at them hundreds of thousands of times. They almost seem a part of my hands. I love them for the way they look and the way they feel. I like the weight of them, the softness of the gold. They have been my security. They have been my constant companions. My babies grabbed onto the finger that that supported them. When they were little, my boys loved to turn them around and around on my finger. They were on my hand the days I hugged my sons goodbye as they left home. Through all our moves, all our travels, through all the years and experiences, they have been with me. Even as my hands have changed, gotten older and a bit more wrinkled, they have stayed the same. They have gone everywhere with me. They were given to me with such love and tenderness.

And now I am just supposed to take them off?

(Shouldn’t there be some ceremony? Some solemn ritual in which the enormity of the act is recognized? Am I really just supposed to slip them off and put them in a dark drawer somewhere?)


In 1980, HOB and I skipped our college classes and went and picked out the diamond ring. We were so excited and happy. We did not buy a wedding band at that time, but planned to later. About three weeks before our wedding, my grandmother died and left my mom her wedding band. I still remember the day my mom handed it to me and said, “I think Grandma Bessie really meant this for you.” I gasped as I saw it was a perfect match to my engagement ring.

I sit and look at that wedding ring and even though this divorce was not my idea and I was against it, I feel a sense of sadness at somehow letting my grandmother down. Both HOB and I come from families in which our grandparents, our great-grandparents, our great-great grandparents and as far back as we can trace, stayed together through thick and thin. Now that braided cord of devotion has been broken. It seems a shame. I loved my grandmother and I want to wear her ring as a tribute to her, but now I see it as a symbol of my failed marriage. I don’t think I can wear it and not look at it in sadness.


My friends and my family tell me I’ll know when it’s the right time to take my rings off. They say there is no rush, but I also see their eyes flit down to my finger when I greet them. I feel like I should be ready.

I have practiced taking them off when I am in the bathtub. The very first time I did it was about a week after HOB left and my hand started to shake uncontrollably. Now, about two months later, I can take them off for longer times in the tub, but when I do, I look at the base of my finger, and it seems permanently indented my all the years of wearing my rings. My impulse to put the rings back on always wins out. I place them back on my finger and my hand looks complete and normal again. I feel complete and normal (sort of) again.

It’s strange that the jewelry we choose, or choose not, to wear sends a message to the world. For me, I loved the life they symbolized. I miss being married (probably even more than I miss HOB). It was a life I was used to. It was a lifestyle that suited me.

However, the person who gave me these rings no longer wants to share his life with me. After he made his decision, the ring I gave him immediately became a nuisance, an obstacle, an albatross. He had no trouble taking it off. And yet, tonight mine sit on my finger and the thought of taking them off still brings tears to my eyes.


So I sit and consider the matter of the rings.

The rings that matter.

The rings that don’t matter.

But they do.

But they don’t.

But…they do.




Note to my dear ones who comment: You know I love you all and so I respectfully ask that you not say anything negative about HOB in your comments here. My sons and my almost- daughter-in-law may read this blog and I want to consider their feelings and their future relationship with HOB. I hope you (and they) understand that this post is about me, my journey and my healing process and focus your comments on that aspect of this post.

Thank you so much.
--BB


70 comments:

Melinda said...

I've been down this road and I can tell you I have a solution! Or this is what I did anyway.
Wear your Grandmother's wedding band on your right hand, a tribute to her. THEN go and buy yourself a beautiful ring, a gem, a colour that symbolizes joy? Red? A ruby? Wear that on your left hand, no longer a symbol of a failed marriage, a symbol of strength and a symbol of a woman who is forging ahead in her life.

*And as a post script, my ex was a jeweller .

Catherine said...

Sending you big hugs Betty!

I love it that you are asking everyone to respect your family and to not put anything negative about HOB. This shows your true integrity and big heart.

You are beautiful.

xo Catherine

Leah J. Utas said...

I say don't force it. When the moment comes go with it.
Melinda has a really good idea.

Anne Gallagher said...

I agree whole heartedly with Melinda. Your grandmother's ring is from your grandmother, it belongs to YOU. And if it feels right on your left hand, wear it. As for the engagement ring, well, it will always mean something to you, and in time it will find it's rightful place in the jewelry box.

I say a ring with the two birthstone colors of your sons would be appropriate on your left hand. That's always pretty and will still maintain the integrity of those 30 years.

Out on the prairie said...

One of the boys may want to use hem,otherwisde wear it on the right hand. I still have mine hanging from a chain in my bedroom.

Flartus said...

There should be a ceremony--and you can create one. Here's my suggestion:

Gather your loved ones together--your sisters or friends--pour some wine, and share stories of raising your babies. Because regardless of what HOB does or doesn't do, you'll always have those boys as a positive outcome from those years.

Then pop those rings off, read a poem or Bible verse, or sing a song over them--something about strength, or happiness or "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans"--and put the lone wedding band on your right finger--an eternal link to the women in your family, and their ties that endure regardless of the rest of the world. Say a toast to your boys, and fling the engagement ring into a drawer.

Or hand it over to someone else who can take it to a jeweler and sell it for you. Then use the money to travel. Or at least buy some candy for a road trip. Or pay the plumbing bill. Something appropriate. :)

Tabor said...

Those rings represent a good time in your relationship and your life. No wonder you do not want to reject it. Give it time. Maybe a ceremony is good idea in the future.

monica said...

...if it were me, I would wear my Grandmother's ring on my right hand or on a chain around my neck. As for the engagement ring, I would have the diamond re-set onto another band that signifies a new ring/a new beginning. kind of a blending of old and new...just as you will hold on to all your good memories of the past as you make new ones in the future. I know, right I am starting to babble, just want you to know that I am in awe of you and your strength. having been divorced I do know what you are going through and it does get better, as with all things. peace.

Old Kitty said...

Oh BB! The ring on your finger matters as your grandmother's wedding band. I hope they will forever symbolise postive hopes and good dreams and a life you loved and will have again.

Hugs and take care
x

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Everybody's journey is different, so I hope you don't feel like you "should" or "should not" be a certain way. You are just you, and you'll get through it at your own pace. Hugs!

Marg said...

I like the idea of having the diamond set into another ring just for the good memories of your marriage and for the children. Good idea not to trash the man person. Take care.

Lin said...

I agree--being negative with HOB isn't going to help. We have to help YOU process this change in your life and support you.

The rings were/are a symbol of a promise, of love, commitment, a life together. Okay, so some of those are in the crapper, but it still represents the life you had for those many years. Taking those rings off would feel like you are ditching those years, and I'm with you--I don't think they come off all that easily. Nor do they when your spouse dies. My aunt and mom wore their rings for years after their spouses died and nobody said anything about that.

I think it's up to you when the time is right. If eyes glance there (which is probably more your imagination than reality) ignore it or say "I'm not there yet". Nobody really gives a crap about that kind of stuff anyway.

I think when you are ready, I'd get myself a pretty new ring, one that symbolizes your NEW life, a promise to yourself to be strong, to be brave, to be in control of your future, to acknowledge what you have been through and SURVIVED! Wear that new ring proudly. You can even wear it with your G'ma's band--to symbolize where you have been and where you are headed.

That way your finger won't feel so naked anymore!

Again, sending love and hugs on your journey, Betty. I have a feeling you've got a knapsack of them. :)

Slamdunk said...

I like Elizabeth's comment--everyone is different and it takes time. When you are ready, it will happen.

Somewhat related, my mom passed away right before her birthday. I had her gift wrapped and sitting on my desk. The gift sat there for more than a year--I did not have the heart to give it away.

Pearl said...

Ahhh, Betty.

A suggestion? When the time is right -- and one day, it just WILL be -- keep your grandmother's ring, save it, but have a jeweler take a look at the engagement ring with an eye toward turning it into something else.

So many things turn into other things, don't they? Some by someone else's design, and some by our own.

Hugs.

Pearl

Linda said...

I have a friend in a situation similar to yours. She wore her rings for a few years after her husband left her. Then she found another ring to wear on her left hand because that hand just looks and feels so naked when you remove those rings that have been there for so long. You're right about the permanent indentation our wedding rings make on our fingers. Maybe you could have the diamond from your engagement ring reset into a ring that looks less like it belongs in a wedding set.

john said...

Wear 'em forever if you feel like it. The imperative here is if YOU FEEL LIKE IT. If you want to, fine. If you feel like taking them off, fine. Anybody else can bugger off if they don't like you wearing your rings. But, when and if you take them off for good, Grandma's ring stays, in some capacity. Period.
However, whilst the suggestions about remaking the engagement ring are all good, doing so still keeps that particular stone. There's still that connection. So, when and IF you feel like permanently removing them, might I suggest selling/trading in that stone if you want another piece of jewelry? Just my $.02...
Hang in there.

Barbara said...

I agree with so many of them: wear your grandmother's ring on the right hand. Maybe a nice solitaire earring out of the diamond (my jeweler did it for the setting and the remainder of the small diamonds.)
But...overall....that last italicized paragraph speaks volumes: You are a CLASS act!!!! Hang in there..you'll do fine!

Jules said...

Betty, I agree with your family and friends, you will know when the time is right. The advantage here is I cannot look down at your finger and make you feel bad, thank heavens!

Negativity only brings more negativity and change in any form hurts.

Just know we are all here trying our best to help you transition. Transition into the beautiful butterfly we already know you are. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Madi and Mom said...

Morning BB!!!
What a powerful post that was loving written. I, too, think you will know when it is time. Maybe down the road you can have a Mother's ring made from your grandma's band, your diamond, add your son's birthstones to either side of the diamond...and wear it on your right hand.....
Hugs to you,
C

KLZ said...

They are your rings, no matter who gave them to you or why. They are part of your life and part of you. You get to do whatever you want with them, even if that includes wearing them forever. There's no right way to do any of this.

wendy @ mama one to three said...

oh that's heartbreak. Your post really made me imagine what that might feel like, and how attached to my wedding jewelry I am as well--for the symbolism, the lifestyle. Your rings should come off or stay on as you need them to. Just my two cents. I will have some cookies out for you! :)

Talli Roland said...

I like Melinda's comment - it seems like a good way to hang into something that's important to your new family, and symbolise a new start.

Eloise said...

I assume the ring you have is the one Grandpa Turner gave Grandma Bessie when they married after having lost their partners of 50 years. What a symbol of belief in goodness and love and courage to start a new life after such painful losses. I know Grandma Bessie is not disappointed in you, but sending you love and strength through that band of gold. As for the diamond, do we know it's origins? Maybe it was not ethically mined; I mean, if you no longer wear leather. . .

Pat said...

First off, I just want to say, Betty, that you are on classy LADY.

Secondly, I, too, feel that there is no hurry to remove the rings. But when YOU feel the time is right, I would move Grandmother's ring to your right hand. And maybe think about taking the diamond from your wedding ring in putting it into a different ring with other stones and still wearing it on your left hand.

Good luck with your decision.

julie fedderson said...

I did a post on rings a while back. The ring finger represents Apollo, and the love of beauty, creativity and self-expression. I think if it gives you comfort, wear it. If not, create something from it that is an expression of your feelings. The symbolism behind a ring is personal, and if it has meaning to you, wear it.

Kristina said...

Melinda captured nearly every word that I was going to tell you, every suggestion. The idea is fabulous! I do think that you should take it off when you are ready though. I think the rings also represent your heart, and that it is taken. It is. Even though it is taken up with hurt, probably a bit of bitterness, some confusion and memories it's surrounding HOB. You aren't ready to tell the world that you are available, and unattached, and I think that's completely acceptable. I think there will come a day where you go and find yourself a new ring to place on that finger so it doesn't feel so empty, slipping that wedding set off and moving forward. It has to be done on your time, when your heart is ready. Don't worry about anything else, it isn't anyone else's business.

Eva Gallant said...

I like that you want nothing negative on your blog because of your sons and almost daughter-in-law. and I like Melinda's idea.

Sush said...

Just sending love you you today...and wishes for solace for your heart and soul.
You are a very loving and lovely lady to be thinking first as Mother's are want to do...of your kids feelings...
Hugs~

Lydia Kang said...

Do what you feels best for you. It's your life, and they are your rings.

I do think Melinda's idea is wonderful, but in the end, it's up to you.

((hugs))

Daisy said...

I like Melinda's idea. Or perhaps, when you are ready to take the rings off, you could set them aside to give to one of your sons for a future daughter-in-law. There is no wrong decision in what to do with them. It is whatever feels right to you. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about the matter.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

When you're ready, then take them off.
You could always just wear the band in tribute to your grandmother.

Donna said...

Wear them as long as you like! When you're ready for a change, try Melinda's idea...
Have a great weekend!

Hilary said...

There are some wonderful ideas and sentiments here and you'll do what you feel is right.. when you feel it's right. No sooner or later than that. It's a process and you can't rush your heart to healing by removing your rings. But when you do, you'll know it's because you've moved along a little bit further in the healing process. Hugs to you, Betty.

Ms. A said...

The rings will never let you down, if that makes any sense. They are always there, through thick and thin and even when the marriage fell apart, the rings will last forever.

Brian said...

Only you can decide, and only you. You shold never feel any pressure to do what doesn't feel right!

Susan in the Boonies said...

Hugs.

Julianna said...

I know someone who took the rings to the jewelers and had them pop out the stone and put into another left hand ring. Then with the remaining two rings of gold, bent them into two hearts and then made them into a "cage" for a pearl. (Is this making any sence?) The cage was then put onto a chain, and was given to their daughter.

It was beautiful, and ment more to her than it ever could have to her parents, and best of all, it was casual enough to wear everyday.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, I understand not wanting to take the rings off. That part of it does seem so final. Plus there are so many memories attached to them. Women are more sentimental then men anyway. So you take your time.

karen said...

You will know when you're ready to take them off. There is no "right" time. It may be sooner than later, but keep them on until you're ready to take them off. This isn't about anyone else's timeline. When I was ready, I gave my set to my daughter. She used the diamonds in her own engagement/wedding band set. Her husband was/is in medical school and I couldn't think of a better use for them so I was glad that I'd given them to her. I'm sure you'll find something just as meaningful to do with yours. You'll eventually reach a point where you can celebrate the good years and times you had together, and still be ready to get on with your life. As with all things, it just takes time.

jenny_o said...

Melinda (first commenter) had the same idea as I did, and said it better :)

Laura said...

I agree with the others that you will know when the time is right for you.
I was young and only married less than three years. I took my rings off right away, but my hand felt so bare and it added to my sadness (the ending of the marriage was by me and it was an abusive relationship). I bought a simple ring that (to me) represented a new beginning and wore that.

Gigi said...

I have so many hugs for you, Betty. You are a strong and wise woman. You will know what to do when the time is right. That's the key - when the time is right.

Retired English Teacher said...

I agree with those who say that you will know when to take your rings off and what to do with them when the time is right - for you. It really only your decision to make. I understand the sentiment and feelings.

I foolishly sold my rings. I regret it. It was done in great haste and without a lot of thought. I wish I would have waited until I knew my emotions better.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

When the time is right for YOU those rings will come off.
Take care Betty.
Yvonne.

Katherines Corner said...

Big Hugs ♥

Ann said...

The advice you were given about knowing when the time was right to take them off is very true. Why take them off right now? Legally you are still married. Wait until after the divorce is final, throw a removing of the rings ceremony with all your friends in attendance. Keep your grandmothers ring on your other hand as a tribute to her. If you choose to wear the diamond engagement ring with it it would simply be because it complements the band so well :)

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Sending lots of love and (((HUGS))) your way, sweet Betty. I know this was a difficult post to write. You'll know when the time is right to take off the rings.

Matthew 5:4

Dazee Dreamer said...

Maybe you could start by just taking off the engagement ring. And you could always wear your grandmothers ring. There is sentimental value there too. You can draw on the strength of her.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Change is difficult especially when something has been the same for so long. You will know the time and when it's right for you. Maybe put on your right hand to fell the long time comfort but in a new way and then you can ease into the change.

Marlene said...

Have you thought of moving them to the other hand? Sort of an "intermediate" step? Just a suggestion. Hugs.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I understand. Even though my marriage didn't last much longer than a heartbeat, I didn't take off my rings for months. At some point, I don't remember when, I felt ready.
(I eventually sold my wedding ring for a ridiculously low amount. I tried to sell my engagement ring but couldn't so I made it into a necklace.)

Love to you, Betty.
xoRobyn

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

I do not think you should force it. One day, it will seem like a natural thing to remove them, or maybe, like Marlene said, move them both, or just your grandmother's to your other hand. You are not letting your Grandmother down. Well, I didn't actually know your Grandmother, but I have come to know you a little bit and I can't see you feeling that way about your grandkids so I'm jumping to a conclusion here, but I do not think she would. This is me talking too much, btw. I wish I could hug you.

floweringmama said...

Betty,

There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said or hasn't already been through your head a thousand and seventeen time . . . so I'll say this - You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for and because of that you will know what to do and when to do it.

Cathy

Peggy K said...

The way I see it, it's jewelry. Sure it's symbolic. But if it's beautiful jewelry, and you like wearing it, and it fits so fine on your hand, then you should wear it until you want something different.

And just for the record, I like what Melinda says. Put Gram's ring on your right hand when you're ready. And don't let those "glances to your hand" get to you. You gotta wonder about the friendship of people who glance at your hand instead of looking in your eyes. Rest assured, dear BB, that if we met up, I'd look at your eyes to see how you are doing.

Mamma has spoken said...

I say keep your grandmother's ring and wear it where and however you want and then pass it down to one of your sons. As for the engagement ring, I'll tell you what my SIL did with her past rings (yes plural as in three). She had them all turned into a right handed ring that she wears with pride.

Anonymous said...

keep your rings, when and if you decide to take them off, keep your grama's ring it is an heirloom...I don't wear any rings, can't stand anything on my hands, I have two sets of rings, I keep them in lovely boxes for our only child a daughter no less, she doesn't like jewelry either..It is your own decision when and if you take your rings off..don't let anyone pressure you, it is your personal preference..hoping your weekend with the daylight saving extra hour bodes well with you and you get some rest and soon joy back into your life, take care!

KleinsteMotte said...

The grandma's ring deserves a place. Keep it on either hand and don't see failure but change. The world has changed so very much and marriages too. Failure seems wrong. A different direction seems better. You will cherish what was good and chuck out the nasty stuff in time.
There are cultures where rings mean nothing between spouses. Learn to focus in a new direction. Someday you may even pass on the rings.

faye said...

a friend of mine had the
stones from her ring reset into a beautiful pendant... I am not sure I would wear it, but diamonds are a girl's
best friend... especially in this economy... so put it away.. out of sight..but hang onto it.

Tracy said...

Betty,
Yes, you will know when it's time and it is only for you to decide; not anyone else so let them glance. You are having such a difficult time because taking the rings off well, perhaps that is the finality of it all.
Take good care of yourself...

CherylK said...

Don't rush anything. If you feel comfortable wearing the rings, then you should. You'll definitely know when the time is right to remove them and you'll be happy with that choice. Really.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Wow, I'm behind reading and look at all the comments you got. I had to take mine off eventually after Rich died. So I went out and bought a beautiful ring to wear instead. It made me feel independent and pretty. You just have to do it when YOU are ready. Hugs BB.

Shan said...

I can recall having a similar (though I'm sure less intense) feeling about removing my wedding rings. Eventually I gave my engagement ring to a young niece and let Corey play with the wedding band (a passive aggressive version of tossing it across the room, I guess).

Have you considered melting the rings down and making something new? So you can keep the braid of love and devotion. But honor that you have undergone a change.

Linda Myers said...

You'll know when the time is right.

Then, you can consider wearing your grandmother's ring on your right hand. And having a pendant made for the diamond, and get a fine gold chain, and have the other ring melted down for the gold.

A simple diamond necklace is very classy. I have worn mine for many years now.

inkpuddle said...

Late to the post, as is my style as of late. But I wanted to say ... you wear those rings for as long as you feel right doing so.

Sounds like there is a lot of history and memory tied to those bands, so while it may have seemed easy for him to do away with them, none of us here are going to question your reluctance to take them off.

You'll know when you're ready, and until then, don't worry about it. Anyone more concerned with the state of your ring finger than your state of mind isn't worth worrying about, anyway.

Pat Tillett said...

My short answer (not that you're looking for one) is to wear the ring on your other hand. My long answer (again, not that you want MHO) is that it is always easier (and many times they can't wait), to get the ring off, because they are already gone by the time they tell us... It sucks!

Camille said...

Dear Betty - what Pearl said... As it so happens, several years ago a very nice goldsmith listened to my story, gently took my rings from my hand, and made them into something else that was beautiful and unique but still my gold rings - only in another form. My child absolutely did not want my old rings (bad Karma I guess) but she does now very much love the reshaped gold. New beginnings are good for everyone...but only when you're ready dear girl.

Baby Sister said...

Give yourself time, dear. You'll know when the time is right. I bet they look to see if the rings are gone because they love you and want to help comfort you, not because they think you should be ready. Don't rush this, just take your time. *hugs*

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Your grandmother's ring honors her --I know how the rings seem to become a part of you. When YOU feel ready, do whatever you wish with the ring--even if it lays in the jewelry box. My son's wife left him this Aug. He hadn't a clue--was very happy and doted on her. He was devastated to learn she was involved with someone else. She left the rings on the computer where he would find them. I still remember the day he brought her in to us with the new ring he had so proudly chosen all by himself. The very recollection of that day brings tears to my eyes--for him and the pain he still feels. Some day he plans to sell them, but he isn't ready yet. I totally get that. Blessings to you, Betty!

L said...

I'll be candid. I think the rings are a symbol of pain that you are now connected to because of the hurt the HOB caused. Pain is a powerful connection. You didn't fail. He did. You were true to yourself and who you were. Don't blame yourself. He is the person who lost out. Yes, the ring was a symbol of love, but symbols can and do change and this symbol is not longer what it was. The more you stay connected to this symbol of pain, the slower the recovery. Don't be embarrassed by not having a ring. When it comes off, it will allow people to give you the friendship and support you need. Perhaps then, people will reach out to you to confort you. My suggestion is have courage, shed the symbol, look to the future and buy yourself a non-wedding looking ring to beautify that finger. Life holds many surprises. Be open. As I write to you, I may be giving myself the same advice.

The Empress said...

Bossy Betty:

my two older sisters did something very neat:

after they felt they were ready for change: One had the ring worked into a new design for her right hand, and the other sister had the ring/gold/stone worked into a pendant.

They still wear them: their ex husbands are a part of their lives, the father of their children.

I think of you.