I have so appreciated the support and dialog that has started due to this little blog. For me personally, in many ways it is like I get to time travel back in my own life and observe with new eyes and talk to myself with the wisdom I have today. A wise friend once told me that we should speak often to our past self so that we can learn to hear our future self speaking to us now. I love the idea of that.
I have been emailed so many times now with questions about my Tea for Two post that I thought it might be beneficial to share a bit more of my story. In doing so I in no way wish to paint my first husband or our marriage in a disparaging light. To the best of my ability I would like to share the facts of a few events and then talk about how the experiences impacted my life trajectory.
One of the only aspects I miss from the life I lived in my late twenties during my first marriage is the fact that we had a sail boat and a motor boat. At the time I lived close to a beautiful lake surrounded by tree covered mountains. I got out on the water as often as I could. For several years running we had the same slip at the same marina on that lake and had gotten to know the people who docked around us. Due to the religious traditions we were raised with, my husband and I did not drink alcohol (to this day I still do not, but now for reasons beyond something outside myself that told me it is wrong…more about that another time maybe). Without ever being preachy about it, after years of politely declining drinks at the dock, I am pretty sure most of the people at the marina knew we did not drink.
So it is the time of golden light going into dusk on a perfect summer night out on the boat. My husband and I are in middle of the lake, but begin coming in to dock for the night. I have earphones on with Santana playing on my CD player (yes youngsters there was a stone age time before mp3s -lol) and I am standing on the bow of the boat dancing in the breeze. I feel an overwhelming bliss at the beauty around me, the connection I feel with nature in my movements dancing with the wind, the sight of the stunning light that is dancing on the surface ripples of the water and the passion in the music that is playing in my ears. I feel at peace with my aging few pounds past best bikini sized body and I feel at one with all creation around me. Joy joy joy.
Then it happens. All of a sudden the boat slows and almost comes to a stop. My husband who is driving calls out and asks me to get down off the bow. I turn and start to remove my headphones and ask him what is wrong…did he see a log in the water, was there a problem with the engine? His response is that he wants me to get down because people are going to think I am drunk. I lightly try to joke with him about this comment and he responds back with the serious statement that the people who would be seeing me dancing up there are his potential patients.
( X marks the spot for the sound of wind being knocked out of my soul).
Anguish hits me like a ton of bricks in that moment. I have this horrible realization that my husband is embarrassed of me. Ouch.
The truly challenging thing for me in this experience that I share was I had married a man who not only used to dance in the wind with me, but most likely would have discretely stripped down and skinny dipped off that bow. Now 9 years into our marriage where was that man? In those proceeding years I had helped him become a doctor and somewhere in there he had changed and grown in his own new directions. It is ok to want to be with a woman who does not dance on bows of boats. He was not “wrong” in wanting this.
I madly loved this man. I loved him so much that without consciously realizing it, I started to shut myself down. I stopped dancing on the bows of boats…literally and figuratively. I did not want to rock our relationship boat so to speak so I quietly just stopped doing things that I thought might embarrass him. I stopped being myself and started being unhappy. However, by doing so eventually I discovered some important truths. I discovered that to love someone else completely, we must first love ourselves. To honestly know someone else, we must know ourselves first. To share our lives with someone else, we ourselves must first work to know with clarity the personal architecture that makes up who we currently are and what we currently want. My stopping being myself was not my husbands fault, the choice to do it was mine. However at the time, if I am honest with myself, I started to blame my husband for my own unhappiness with myself because of my erroneous thinking about how to fix our challenges.
You see M was, is and always will be at my core a woman who spontaneously dances on the bow of boats, with the cart in the grocery store when a good oldie comes on over the sound system and even on the street corner by herself in the middle of Manhattan when a snippet of some beautiful sound comes into my head. By stopping dancing back then, I stopped being that authentic M and slowly I became miserable. At the time I did not realize what I was doing was not actually helping my marriage, but hurting it. It was some time after this boating incident that a truly painful moment of utter clarity came when after going away on vacation with my husband and I, a precious friend shared the observation that I changed when I was around my husband. He observed that I stopped being the M he knew. At the time I was not strong enough to be my true self no matter what anyone else thought. At the time I did not have enough emotional maturity to completely understand the dynamics of what was occurring. Ironically, at the time it took leaving my first marriage to learn these lessons.
When we finally did divorce, my first husband and I remained good friends until shortly there after when he remarried. In respect for what I believe was the wishes of his new wife, he and I let our friendship go. I did not get the chance to know this woman, but with all my heart I hope my first husband found a partner who lives life with him the way he wants it to be.
Today I remain as ever that Lady of the Lake raising the sword of growth and truth in my life. And just as an aside, today N always dances in the isle at Target with me when a good song comes on. 🙂
On his bold visage middle age
Had slightly press’d its signet sage,
Yet had not quench’d the open truth
And fiery vehemence of youth:
Forward and frolic glee was there,
The will to do, the soul to dare.
-Sir Walter Scott
Lady of the Lake. Canto i. Stanza 21.
Song that was actually playing on my CD player the moment this experience occurred:
(To R, if you ever find your way to this blog, know that from the core of my being, I am so grateful to you for all the things our marriage and its ending helped me to learn about myself. I share this story here honestly now knowing it is ok to want to share your life with a partner who comports herself with some sense of social decorum that I fundamentally do not possess. I am glad we had the courage to let go and grow. I hope you are resplendently happy in your life today. Still as always, big loves to you. -x.M)