I was recently looking at old family photos and videos. They had been “lost” when my home server died, and I didn’t know how to recover them. They sat there on that server in my family room for a few years until my tech-wiz friend was able to get them back for me. My daughter had been looking for and asking about some specific videos she and her friends made when they were little, so I sat down with my computer to look for them.
The thing about looking at family photos and videos when you’ve gotten divorced is that it kinda sucks. I mean, it’s totally wonderful to see my babies and toddlers and relive their birthdays and holidays. But at the same time, I found myself also looking for clues. Like, were there glaring red flags that my husband was going to have a midlife crisis and take off ? Was I really as horrible as he told me I was before he left?
It’s been over six years since all that shit happened, and here I am still looking for answers. I realize how pathetic that sounds. I also give myself some grace about it because it was devastating, and I have to carry that pain around with me for the rest of my life. So do my kids.
So I looked for the clues.
And you know what? There were a few. Like the fact that when he had the video camera, and I was in the room, he was mostly just taping the kids. I noticed that specifically because there were also videos my father had taken, and in every single one of them, he zoomed in on my mother’s face. She didn’t always know, but when she caught him, her smile would light up the frame. As I looked, there were two times I had the camera and was telling my husband what a great father, husband, and friend he was, and he basically ignored me. In one, he even turned off the light right after I said it.
Like his soul.
That’s a joke – but yes, some clues were there.
Mostly, though, I saw two young parents trying to raise two young kids. I saw the work we did on our very dated home. I saw the Christmas mornings with first one and then two excited little kids. I saw the tiredness in our eyes. I saw the birthday parties with family and friends. I saw him smooth my hair and kiss my head at the 40th birthday party he threw for me. I saw a lot of family moments I thought at the time would keep coming forever. We had a good life. It wasn’t perfect – no life is. But it was good.
After watching those videos and scrolling through the photos, I got depressed for a few days. Trying to make sense out of nonsense is one of my specialties, and I will freely admit that I’m an overthinker. I once again came to the conclusion that I will never love anyone the way I loved him and because of that, no one will ever be able to hurt me so badly again. I suppose that’s a blessing, but it also makes me sad to know that as much as I didn’t want to be changed by someone else’s choices and actions, I am forever different. My heart is guarded now and not as open and trusting as it once was.
You might think to yourself, “Holy crap, woman, get over it. It’s been six YEARS.”
I think that myself on a regular basis. I don’t think it’s something I will “get over” though. Not in the way we think about getting over things. The pain has lessened. And I think mostly I have just absorbed it, and I have moved on WITH it. I don’t sit around and try to figure out why he did what he did every day anymore. But I do think about our old life almost every day. I see his face in our son’s face. And I still live in the home we put so much blood, sweat, hard work, and money into.
My life continues without him in it.
People often talk about soul mates, and many times I think they mean a lifelong romantic partner. Sometimes people get just that. I didn’t, so I believe you can have more than one soul mate. I believe they come to disrupt your life and change things up. He did that for me twice in my life. I believe these kids of ours are the main reason we were supposed to meet. I believe all that shit he put me through was supposed to happen to wake me up to course corrections I needed to make. I did not DESERVE it, but I think I must have NEEDED it. I’ve made some stupid choices in my life, but loving him was not one of them. I used to think it was, but I‘ve come to believe that love is never wasted. I gave it my all most of the time throughout the years and most definitely at the end. My all wasn’t what he wanted. And that’s ok. It sucked, but it’s ok.
Healing is a long road sometimes, and I will probably continue to heal for the rest of my life. I will mourn what could have been whenever I need to. I will give myself grace on days I spiral into the questioning that comes from betrayal. I will continue to be imperfect and flawed and messy and most of all, real.
I will also be sure to take videos and pictures of this new life that I get to continue to create. And maybe if I’m lucky, someone who loves me will zoom in on my face with its laugh lines and wrinkles, silver hair and all.
And my smile will light up the frame.