It has almost been three months since the day, the day my life went from placid and normal and sunshiney…the kind of sun that shines even though there might be dark clouds in the distance, threatening a rumble and indicating a storm, but you don’t really care because you live on a beautiful mountain and the dark skies are easily ten miles away, moving parallel. It’s not affecting you as you sit basking in the sunlight.
In early November, that is what I did. It was election day. It was also the day after a disturbing argument/altercation/disagreement with the Magnanimous Asshole. I actually would really need to think what words we exchanged, but it involved me going to bed, realizing I wanted my phone, coming right back downstairs to find him rushing to plug my phone back in. Me, questioning in total shock…not so much why were you looking at my phone (because we’ve been married, you know, forever. I have nothing to hide.) More so questioning why he tried to hide it, and questioning his defensive attitude about. It left me feeling unsettled. Foreshadowing, perhaps? Don’t they always say that? People who are liars and cheaters are suspicious that everyone is a liar and a cheater? But I digress.
Voting day, unsettled, and a need for someone to pick up my daughter as I failed to calculate the length of the lines at the voting poll which led to me and my most wonderful friend having what we called an afternoon quickie. Before your mind goes to the gutter, a “quickie” is when we don’t have a lot of time to hang, but we get together for a short catch up and maybe a glass of wine. Such was the case that day…pulling my patio chairs into the middle of the yard to soak in the warmth of the sun on a November afternoon. I don’t remember what we talked about, and it doesn’t really matter. She was there, I was there, we were happy, the sun was invigorating, and far away…clouds rolled.
Since the day he left, I would equate my life to being similar to being on the world’s craziest roller coaster. Alone. In the dark. Without a seatbelt and with zero ability to see what’s to come. Moments of rolling along. Bits and hours of days where I feel as though I’m going uphill, only to be whipped down and around and knocked over. Up and down. No idea what’s coming next, only that the ride isn’t even close to being over.
But there’s been a constant. Actually, not just a constant, but a realization that the people in my life are there for a reason. Each and every person who is holding my hand, picking me up, helping me with my children, listening to me when I get “on the ledge” or start to circle the black hole of despair, making phone calls for me, and truthfully–giving me tough love when I need it. Each and every one is indispensable.
The afore-mentioned best friend, who is tightly bound to my heart and who without, I simply would not be surviving this. The number of texts we’ve exchanged is astronomical. The amount of times she’s wiped my tears (for real and metaphorically). The ability she has to know exactly what I need, whether its someone to listen, a glass of wine, an actual physical favor, or when I need someone to tell me its time to buck up. When to back away and when not to leave me alone with my thoughts. How to keep laughter and fun–even in such different forms–still woven into our friendship.
The friend who takes my kids at a moments notice. No matter what her day is like she makes it work when I need her. She cares for my children like her own. I trust her 100%…not just as my friend, but with my kids. She is selfless and giving. Ironically, she made a comment recently about another friend of ours: a girl who is one of those people who always does “little things” for others…dropping off a gift, sending a card. This friend wished she could be more like that…felt it was a shortcoming, that she didn’t think to do things for others that would cheer them up. I was a bit dumbfounded, and I told her…but look at what you do! She’s the friend with a house full of kids at any given moment and who never, ever takes enough time for herself but will rearrange her entire day to help you out.
The kicker? She’s the wife of the Asshole’s former childhood friend. She is immeasurable to me. But had I never been with him, had I never known him, would I have been in her path? The same goes for my BFF…I initially met her because she and her husband knew the Asshole. Funny how life works.
And all the other people. My family: a given. Mother, father, sister. And yet…the dynamics have depths they didn’t before. I have let my mom cry instead of being annoyed by her overly emotional self because…what choice do I have? She’s sad and hurt…for me. So am I. Instead of trying to gloss over, we just drank some wine and did a puzzle and let the emotions out. My sister…so far away but yet so close.
My dad. I’m not ready to tackle that yet. I’ve always known I have the best dad but now I really, really know it. It’s hard for me to revert to that little girl stage and let him take care of me…because I never really did that, even when I was a little girl. I’m tougher than that! I don’t need help. Except. Now I do. And it’s so, so relieving to let that in. And just accept it.
And my psychic medium-slash-therapist friend. (What, don’t we all have one?) I cannot explain the feeling I have that she was put in my path for a reason. Way back when, in the normal sunshiny life, I met her when I had a reading. It was one of those pivotal moments in my life…but also. I became a little bit obsessed. I wanted to be her friend (we have mutual friends, it’s not like I was stalking my medium!) I thought about her a lot. Our paths crossed a few times in coincidental ways. She appeared where I was just a few days after it all happened, on a particularly bad day. She came right to me, took me in her arms, and said The biggest thing I’m getting is that you are going to be okay.
Last week, I saw her again. We spoke and again…her biggest, most unchallenged feeling and message to me was you will be okay! And for the first time, I believed it. I can’t say why. There was nothing earth shattering in her words to me, nothing my friends and family had not told me a million times in the past few months…he will regret this, you will be better off, it will get better, YOU will be better, etc etc. But for the very first time, I believed it.
And of course, there are so many other people. The woman behind me in line at my daughter’s dance class, who overheard a conversation with my children and noted my tears afterwards and who acknowledged “I know what you’re going through, and I promise, this is the worst part. It will get better.”
The high school friend who was never really a friend but was a Facebook friend who is literally going through the same thing. This girl who messaged me, sounding even more broken that I felt, if that was possible. Who not only commiserated with me, but gave me the urge to want to do something to help someone else. Who reminded me that that’s who I am.
And in the words of my medium friend…I cannot focus on what I’ve lost, only what I’ll gain. I cannot fight this battle if I don’t feed my soul. I cannot change the course of events only my reaction to them. That is where the power lies. Such a simple concept, but fuck if it isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do.
Instead of thinking about him and her, the “we” that they’ve created amongst the shitstorm they’ve unleashed on me, I simply need to think about me.
Instead of going over and over the events of the past that I cannot change: whether it be things that I wish I hadn’t just let him do, ways I wish I had taken better care of my heart, or conversations that could have gone differently. Things I should have seen but did not, or chose not to. Instead of fixating, move forward. The rest of the book is unwritten, so to speak. Forget the past.
Instead of looking at this as the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, look at it as though this is the hand I was dealt. Play it like it’s the hand I wanted. Because I cannot change it. And I do not want the Magnanimous Asshole back. I do have feelings of bitterness and can not wait until karma works her magic. But I also cannot just…throw away all the hurt and betrayal. So I need to look at my cards and make them work for me.
I have always said, in many a situation and to many a friend change is always good. I must remind myself that this is always true. And seek the good. Yes I lost my husband and my best friend…but what did I lose? Someone who never truly valued me, who ultimately gave in to selfish behavior. What did I gain? I’m hoping for a nice chunk of alimony, but in the meantime. What did I gain?
I gained a new appreciation. For my family. Who literally hurts when I hurt, who literally would do anything for me. Of course, I’ve always known this. Knowing it and living it are two totally different experiences.
I’ve gained a new level of faith (yes I have! Even in the days of asking God to throw me a bone and getting a vomiting child instead.) This is a journey I’ve barely cracked the door to, but its one I want and need. I’ve always been spiritual, but never more so than the past 8 months, since my first medium reading. Is it coincidence that my “obsession” with the spirit world began shortly before the biggest trial of my life thus far?
Which brings me back, in a great circular path, to my original point. The people you meet on this journey of life. There’s a reason why. Each and every person in my life right now is there for a reason. And truth be told…its always been that way. Even the Magnanimous Asshole. There is a reason. What it is, I don’t know. Was it to bring me to this place, to meet the people I know now? Is it to prepare me for someone else? Is it to propel me on some type of personal journey? Was it just to give me the two greatest gifts of my life…my kids?
It’s hard to say. But what isn’t hard, is to appreciate that in the worst of the worst, the people who are standing by you. The people you still laugh with. The people who handle your fragile mental state. The people–women in general–fierce friendships that say fuck you to life’s injustices and instead hand you a drink and tell you stand up straight and shake it off.
The people you meet along the way.