Sunday morning I woke up and as I lay there feigning sleep so that M would get up and make the coffee, I knew something was special about the day, but I couldn't figure out what. Typically, this happens after I allow myself an Ambien the night before. For those of you who may actually be able go to sleep like a normal person, Ambien has the tendency to make you do weird things that you won't discover until the morning. I have walked into my kitchen the morning after an Ambien, to a scene that looks like the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity had a rager on the counter next to my fridge. There may be an open tub of garlic hummus, a melted frozen chocolate covered banana, a ripped open box of Special K cereal and Trader Joe's mango slices smeared all over the counter. It makes me eat a lot of weird things before I fall asleep, and when you combine that with my Netflix subscription, well, I don't think anything else needs to be said. Total devastation.
The point is, I woke up and knew something was different about the day. I immediately ruled out the worst possibilities, was I late for work? No it's Sunday. Is it mammogram day? Nope, it's Sunday. Then it came to me... the day was what would have been my 35th wedding anniversary. There we go, that's it.
To think 35 years ago, at the age of 20 I thought I had it all figured out. I would get married, be a wife, wipe down my kitchen cabinets with Murphy's oil soap on Monday mornings, learn to cook, eventually have kids and drive carpool. Nothing to it. But as I came to find out, there's A LOT to it, more than you can realize as you are walking down the aisle, looking forward to the sushi appetizers you insisted upon, even though your dad hates sushi and he's paying for it. It's YOUR day, you only get married once right? RIGHT?
Um, maybe not so right. My marriage would have been 35 years old, my divorce is about four. When you are getting married you tend to see only the good in your soon-to-be spouse. He has good teeth. His table manners are impeccable. He's funny. He's super nice to my mom. When you get divorced, you see only the bad. You remember the arguments, the slammed doors, the days of angry silence, the almost impossible task of dealing with the kids without crying at the dinner table. You remember the total unraveling and you think "It's his fault" "It's her fault" "If only" etc.
Just as I wasn't prepared for the reality of being a wife, I was definitely not prepared for the reality of being an EX WIFE. The anger sits below the surface of your gut, you will think it's heartburn and you will go to a gastro doc (It's not just me right?) and you will tell him your dad has Barrett's Esophagus and you think you have it to and after some tests he will say no, you don't have it YET. Get a grip. But it's there, gnawing, burning, until one day... blissfully, it's not. And that's the day you are no longer just an ex, you are a person with a whole new life ahead of them. It may not be what you expected, but it will be fabulous because you will make it so.
Eventually, you may see that thinking of your ex no longer makes you want to fall into a chair and cry your eyes out. It may even bring a smile to your face. And you may think of him fondly, and you may hope he is well, that he is happy even. And then life goes on, and you will fill it with wonderful people, and happy times.
In the meantime, if you want the sushi appetizer, insist on it. I mean it is your day after all...