Its odd the way our memories work. Some days I can remember stuff that happened 10 years ago like they were yesterday… and some days I cannot remember what I had for breakfast.
I am assuming most people are this way… I talk to a lot of folks that say it happens to them as well. Sometimes the memory is triggered by a specific smell, sound, song, or place. I can’t drive by the hospital where my dad passed away to this day because of the memories that it evokes in me.
It amazes me how vivid some of these memories can be, things that passed many years ago will suddenly flash across my mind as if I am reliving them.
Today, was one such day. I remembered the exact moment in time I confronted The Ex with the fact that he was cheating on me. Now let me tell you just a little back story here – since I’m rambling anyway.
I’ve been married three times. Once, when I had been 18 for two whole weeks… it lasted 6 months. Then I married again at 20, to my best friend. We were married for six years, although we were separated for two of those. We still speak very civilly today, and if you asked my why I divorced him today? I don’t think I could give you a reason… although spending about 2 hours in his presence reminds me every time. Then there was the 11 year ‘relationship’ that was akin to marriage (and had we lived in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas or the District of Columbia it would have been) with That Guy.
Anyway, when I met number three I was gun shy, to say the least. I had been single and on my own for a year and a half, after dealing with 11 years of bullshit. I was seriously not interested in marriage, I wasn’t even sure I wanted a relationship period. I was comfortable being “friends with benefits” for the first six months or so of our time together. Then he said the L word… and two years later we were saying “I do”. Now, he was the son of very, very conservative, very Christian parents. There was no living together before marriage, and they only tolerated my coming and spending weekends at his house (which was their “summer home” but they let him live there free) because I lived three hours away, across the state line and a very dangerous stretch of road.
We dated for almost two and a half years before he “popped the question”. At first it was a joke, he asked what he had to do to get his vacuum cleaner back, and my roommate told him “marry her”. I jokingly replied “Yep, that’s the ticket” and it kind of snowballed from there. Within a month I had a ring on my finger and his mom and Aunts were planning a wedding. During the whole time we dated the most time we spent together at one stretch was two weeks. A week of that was with our kids going to the zoo, aquarium, and Dollywood. The second week was spent in Charleston, SC. During all of this time, I had no idea what the man was really like.
For instance had we lived together for any length of time I would have known the following things about him:
- At least 1 fifth of vodka was consumed in his house daily… he lived alone.
- The Other Woman had been around for 20 years… no competing with that kind of history!
- He was an IV drug user, who preferred locking himself in our closet to inject meth between his toes.
- While he loved his kids, he was incapable of caring for them while drinking, thus a wife was needed
- He was an incredibly annoying drunk, with a penchant for watching the first 15 minutes of 10 movies a night
- See above: also a penchant for listening to the first two lines of at least 30 “80’s hits” every night
- When he passed out drunk, sometimes he pissed in the corner
Yes, I would have had this key information – and probably wouldn’t have gotten myself lodged in that kind of nightmare. But I did.. and it led to the memory that I had today… you know the one I was talking about in the very beginning of this post? Way up there ^ somewhere?
I very vividly remember the day I ‘caught’ him with the Other Woman. She had been introduced to me as a former girlfriend, from his youth. He met her when he was just starting out as a cop… picked her up on a vagrancy call, and delivered her to the homeless shelter… and they dated. She moved out of the shelter and in with him (maybe she was the reason his parents were so against him living with someone) and so life marched on… and they broke up, each married someone else, had a few puppies and before you know it 20 years had passed. Now, the weekend in question? I was supposed to go to the Other Woman’s house for some “girl time” just me and her – we were going to watch movies, drink wine, and talk about men. But then my dad called, and my mom was sick, so I dropped everything and rushed to her side.
While I was gone, she stopped by, and they spent the weekend together. My kids saw them together. I remember so vividly calling him from the road to say I’d be home soon… and walking in the door knowing someone else had been there… I asked him about it. He was honest, at least I give him credit for that, and admitted she had spent the weekend with him. I asked if he had slept with her, and he grinned at me and said “who slept”. I was so furious, hurt, and overwhelmed in that one moment. When this memory crosses my mind, it seems that I have some of those same feelings all over again. Especially the anger part. I still get angry, I still feel hurt…
It doesn’t matter that I am so very happy with my current relationship. It doesn’t matter that I’ve forgiven them both, and they’re married now – although we did not remain friends after the divorce. It doesn’t matter that I wouldn’t want him back now, even if he came crawling on his belly with a million dollars. I know him now… It just still bothers me.
I think it is kind of normal to still experience some form of emotion over such pivotal events in our lives. Things like this happen to shape us into better people. They teach us how to judge character (which obviously takes longer for some), and how to weed out the jerks. Even bad relationships have a lesson to offer – what not to look for in a mate, among many others… and they teach us how to choose someone better for us the next time.
I would not be who I am today without the lessons that I’ve learned, the things that I’ve seen, or the hurts that I’ve had. These things have shaped me, so the memories are like precious snapshots of who I used to be… a reminder of how far I’ve come, and how much better my life is today.
We may not have a brand new $90,000 home. We may not have a six figure income. We may not have a nice car. My lifestyle is NOT the lifestyle I was used to in my former marriage… not by a long shot. But something we have, that I just can’t put a value on?
Love… unconditional, unhindered, unaffected love. No matter how hard it gets, no matter how tight the finances, no matter what issues we have… we always have the underlying foundation of honest, real love. We can talk about our issues, we can express our feelings, and we can get it all off our chests. While no relationship is ever perfect, this one is close enough for me.