I don’t often indulge in regrets. I try to live in the here and now because looking too far backward or forward wastes time and changes little.
The further you get from a finalized divorce agreement, the happier you are supposed to be. I am. Happier than I was. Relieved. And yet, still disappointed and a bit melancholy about what I missed.
So here we go. Indulge me in this one.
I missed the chance to grow old with someone I thought I could do that with. The chance to wave, together, from the front porch, as our sons went off to prom and college. The chance to give those sons a vision of a couple unified and still in love—braving all the storms life brings over the years.
I missed the chance to age blissfully unaware of the physical judgments society places on middle-aged women. When married, I rarely had body image issues. I knew this body had been rock solid years ago and that’s the body and soul he’d fallen in love with. While my soul remained rock solid, my body is subject to all the laws of physics I struggled to learn in school. I like them even less now than I did when I was tested on them. Sure, I can still be kind to myself but it’s hard—oh so hard—in a world that judges a middle-aged woman far too much on the lift in her derriere or the shape of her thighs. We all age. I guess before divorce I was aging through a lens of love that encompassed more than my physical attributes. The man who saw me saw a body that had nurtured and given birth to our children. And he saw so much more than that body.
I missed out on the big anniversaries. The grandkids watching as we renewed our vows. The wedding cake with the cheesy gray-haired people on top of it. Dancing to the same song we danced to on our wedding night—perhaps a slower, less graceful rhumba, but the same rhumba nonetheless.
I missed out on the calm knowing that comes from someone standing strong and tall beside you during life’s worst storms and laughing with you during the upswings. Someone who knows what you’re going to say before you say it. Someone who looks beyond the fine lines around your eyes and sees only the youth in those baby blues that he fell in love with, but now mixed with a wisdom that makes him love you more.
I’m not naïve. I know plenty of “couples” who have a marriage in name only. Plenty who will miserably stick together out of a sense of responsibility or duty—and who won’t do or feel any of these things. I know I made the right choice.
It’s always bittersweet, I think.
So let’s end on what I gained. My self-respect. Hello, old friend.
Joy, as evidenced by the irrepressible urge to dance in my underwear around the house to my latest favorite song (and yes—I close the blinds).
Quiet times alone when there is no dinner to cook and I ignore the myriad things I “should” be doing in favor of feeding my creative soul. Any creative type will tell you motherhood is the bomb—truly great—but it’s a killer for the creative beast within you. You know, the one that requires an adequate amount of rest, the occasional glass of wine and new experiences for your womanly, grown-up self that have nothing to do with your role as a mommy.
And most importantly, I have regained hope. Because if I can come through the fire, being true to myself, and trust that my Higher Power is in charge—then really, everything just falls into place. I may not see a 50th wedding anniversary, but if I can see a more joyful fifth or tenth, hallelujah.
Let me say that again, for emphasis. HALLELUJAH. Thankful for what is, rather than regretful for what is not.