An innocuous call I had with my ex a few days ago got me thinking about the road my journey has taken, a direction I never imagined I’d traverse.
Talking to Caroline, I innocuously asked, as I always do, “how’s it going?”
Invariably, she tells me she’s overworked, tired, and struggling to make our ends meet.
She is overworked, she is tired, and she is struggling. Our expenses are astronomical. And she tells me so every single time we talk. Not in accusatory manner, just a reminder.
A tsunami of shame engulfs me as I reply, “I’m so sorry.”
When I get off the phone, if I’m lucky, I remind myself the life we built was a collaborative choice. From a second home to private schools and colleges, none of the decisions were forced upon Caroline.
Granted, my prolonged unemployment wasn’t her, or my choice. Being middle-aged, finding a marketing job has been close to impossible thus far, which I wrote about here.
I don’t think my ex-wife understands the depth of my shame.
She’s a New England Yankee. You have a problem? Pick yourself up by the bootstraps and fix it. I don’t have bootstraps. I don’t even know what bootstraps are.
I’m projecting here, but I think it is impossible for Caroline to believe anyone could feel that much shame and not just fix whatever’s causing the problem.
In the midst of this holiday weekend, I’m swimming against a riptide of retrospection.
Sometimes “progress” is not backsliding. Not letting shame distort my vision. Reflection is critical to my work. Without clarity, however, reflection is looking at myself through a funhouse mirror.
I’m disappointed so few friends from our neighborhood have reached out.
Perhaps “friends” is the wrong term. A fair number were “friends of convenience.” Either geographically desirable; when free time was a premium, tolerable neighbors transformed into “friends”.
The second category is scholastically desirable friends; thrust into friendship when life revolved around our children’s curricular and extra-curricular exigencies.
Some were genuine friends, at least I thought so. It appears, for the most part there’re not.
Regardless, the knowledge that in the old neighborhood, life continues, makes me sad. Parties are hosted. My ex still attends, trading stories about our adult children, about our lives.
I’m not mourning dinner parties I no longer attend. It is the loss of the comfortable, predictable life I shared for so long.
Besides mourning, I also remember how lonely I felt.
Lately, I’ve pondered how much went unsaid in the final act of the play that was our marriage.
In April the curtain fell. Now I am preparing, on the fly, for a new role, so different than any I have played before. And truth be told, on occasion, I even imagine when I might have a new co-star, though that’s a long way off.
So there you are, from shame to anticipation in 500 words, give or take.
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Something on the mirror theme…