What began as resentment toward my ex-wife, Caroline the other morning, morphed into compassion, tinged by sadness.
I can handle compassion and sadness. Resentment scares me.
Occasionally, when replaying the end of our marriage in my head, I recall moments Caroline especially let me down. I can almost feel the resentment welling up.
Then I force myself to look ahead, when my daughters and I have rebuilt our relationships. I remind myself how much more satisfying those bonds will be than resenting Caroline.
My resentment doesn’t disappear. I just change my relationship with it. I don’t let it infect me.
That morning, however, was different. I focused on the fact my ex-wife, the corporate litigator, the iron-willed woman who can do anything she sets her mind to, who never gives up on anything, gave up on us.
We tried couples counseling. Caroline abhorred every minute of it. The idea of talking to a perfect stranger is an anathema to her. Obviously, the process didn’t help us find our way back.
I know Caroline didn’t give up lightly. Nonetheless, she did. In April, we ostensibly, “took a break.” At least that’s how I characterized our split, when I left our home, after 28 years of marriage.
I believed we’d find a path back. Caroline and I have known two different sets of couples, extremely close friends of ours, who separated and reunited. That was my plan. I imagined courting Caroline. The two of us dating. Getting to know each other anew.
After we separated, I asked Caroline out a few times. It hasn’t happened. I’m now realistic about, and at peace with the end of my marriage.
I don’t think the Jon I am today would be satisfied in a relationship with Caroline.
I am committed to living mindfully, striving to be more aware of my feelings, choosing how to respond, and how to not react. Those are my goals. It is still a work in progress.
Caroline doesn’t seem to engage in introspection. I’m not judging. She’s just wired differently than I. She handles whatever comes her way with pragmatism and grace. I can’t recall Caroline ever being plagued by self-doubt, ever second-guessing choices, either minor or major.
Through therapy, self-exploration, friends, and family, I look at the world differently today. I’m fairly certain my ex doesn’t even know what she’s missing, which is why the resentment I initially felt toward her has morphed into compassion and sadness.
I now look forward to finding my way with our three girls, as well as reforging a friendship with Caroline as we enter new roles, no longer a couple, but still co-parenting our daughters.
With my new-found awareness, I am better equipped to find that which will make me happy. I hope Caroline does as well, and that history does not repeat itself. For either of us.
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P.S. This clip has nothing to do with the post. It did make me laugh nonetheless.