This has been a difficult week.
My wife, Caroline and three daughters are on Martha’s Vineyard, staying in the somewhat-ramshackle, family vacation home Caroline’s grandparents constructed in 1959.
Since I met my wife, thirty years ago, not a summer has gone by when we haven’t vacationed on the island with the exception of two summers I missed while working in pro sports in the early 2000’s.
Before departing last Saturday, Caroline, our oldest daughter, Zooey, and I had dinner Friday. Our younger two daughters were already on-island.
Dinner was pleasant enough.
For the last few years before our split, Caroline and I were two people living apart together. We were lonely. Despite counseling, we couldn’t find a path to reconnect.
There is no reason for our socializing to be anything but polite, if not pleasant.
There were two awkward moments that night. At one point, Caroline asked if I had weekend plans, “Museums, movies, dinner, anything?”
I replied, honestly, “Nope. Nothing.”
Cue awkward silence.
The second moment came after we left the restaurant. When we got to Caroline’s car, I leaned over to kiss her goodbye.
She turned her cheek to me.
Our relationship has transformed so completely that my wife no longer shares the intimacy of a kiss with me.
When I log on Facebook, the first post I see is “Your Memories on Facebook.” Each day, I am greeted with photos I’ve shared, this exact day in previous years. This week has been chock full of Vineyard memories.
The good news is, these memories aren’t sending me into a day-long tailspin.
Part of my journey is accepting that mourning is inevitable. What’s different this week is the regularity of my mourning process.
Today the trigger is a picture I took from the Agricultural Society’s annual fair in 2015. Yesterday, it was a lighthouse at dusk, so forth, and so on.
Of course, with or without my marriage, the lighthouse is still there. At the fair, kids will still enter the rock garden competition and receive blue ribbons. Life does go on.
As acutely aware of what I’ve lost, is optimism in what lies ahead. While the break-up of my marriage brings pain and sadness, I’ve also undergone a healthy transformation
I look at the world differently. I look at me differently.
I’ve written about it before and I’ll probably write about it again, it is such an important revelation for me.
Rather than try to put pain, sorrow, and shame into boxes, and then bury them, I’ve learned these emotions are inevitable, and what makes the difference is my relationship with them.
Denial is a miserable long-term strategy. Trying to live pain-free ensures perpetual disappointment. As a result, I have made a gigantic leap from not just understanding the inevitably of both the good and the bad, but embracing their co-existence.
And, to quote the poet Frost, “That has made all the difference.”
Stay in touch. Share, comment, connect!