After going through the pain of divorce, I was prepared to shut my heart away for awhile, to withdraw from the world of relationships that at that time seemed so murky and full of subterfuge.
I had not seen divorce coming. I felt pretty stupid. Could I ever trust my judgment again?
However, soon I found myself writing to and talking to a certain man who managed to open that closed door just enough to let me see that I could maybe, just maybe, risk it and take small steps in the direction of love again.
I was lucky. Brian was the friend of friends. He and I had met over the years at parties where we had various conversations. It was clear from the start that we both had a love of language. We also had our own quirky ways of looking at life. Our short conversations were always snappy, quick, and fun.
He told me later that when he walked away from these encounters, his one thought was that my husband was the luckiest man on earth to have me as a mate.
He is a decent man who understands the journey of healing is not a fast one. He was patient with me and never pushed our relationship too quickly. Divorce plays with your heart and your head. It takes your self-esteem and throws it around like a Frisbee. He always gave me the room I needed to feel what I needed to feel. He still does.
Best of all, he viewed me through a clear lens.
So often in long-term, complicated relationships, one person sees the other through a lens scratched from the past, scarred by childhood, damaged from past injuries, so that even when one acts in an honest and true way, her motivations are questioned.
I soon discovered that I had, in fact, lost touch with the person I wanted to be. I had started to view myself through the scratched lens of my spouse, and had started to believe that view. How refreshing it was to have all my actions unhampered by the past, by old hurts of which I had no part. I was free to be me—the real me.
And I had nothing to lose by being the real me.
Divorce pretty much strips you down to nothing and you figure what the hell, I might as well be the person I want to be, the person I am supposed to be. I was tired of someone taking the play dough of my actions and pushing it through an extruder, contorting it into some shape that would justify a preconceived notion. I knew if I stayed true to myself that would never happen again.
I read about a study done on people who regularly went to movies and ate popcorn. Researchers gave them stale popcorn just before they went into the show. After the movie, they asked the audience about the popcorn and the participants said it was fine, no different from the usual.
They had become so accustomed to the same experience of eating popcorn at the movies, they did not even recognize when the popcorn was stale.
When Brian and I started dating, I started to taste fresh popcorn. Yowza! Amazing! It had been a very long time since I had felt truly loved and appreciated just for being myself. He reminded me that I was pretty, funny, and creative. This is what I had been missing and I didn’t even know I had been missing it.
I had been eating stale popcorn, accepting it, and thinking that was normal.
Perhaps it happens in all long-term relationships: appreciation is replaced by expectation; adventure is replaced by monotony. (In fairness, I was serving up some major portions of stale popcorn as well.) I know I won’t let it happen again.
My sister Kathleen once referred to me as someone who had a resilient heart. At the time she said it, I didn’t see myself that way, but now I do. I am proud of the fact that I trusted the universe enough to try again and I recognize how extraordinarily fortunate I am to have found love again.
I realize what a wonderful life I have had, the great adventure I am living, and the incredible things that await. I am so appreciative of it all. I have a lot of happy memories of my marriage. No matter how it ended, I know without a doubt that my husband loved me very much for the vast majority of those thirty years. I have two incredible sons from that marriage who have blessed my life in so many ways.
And now, I have this new love, this new beginning.
I have found a man who sees me for who I am and loves this big sparkling, mixed-up, sometimes confusing, happy Bundle of Betty.
How lucky can a girl get?