He passed away just over a year ago. The man that truly took my breath away and scooped up my heart in the palm of his hands in 1987. As I processed the one year anniversary of his moving on to another lifetime I began to sob.
I looked at our daughter and said to her, "It has been 20 years since we have been together and I just can't put my finger on what it is that still gets to me about him, about us." She responded, "Because you never stopped loving each other, mom. He became an addict and pretty soon he needed drugs more than he needed you. But he never stopped loving you. You never stopped loving him either and never really gave anyone else a chance since then. You had to raise me and deal with so much. That is what makes it so hard for you I think."
I sat for a moment in silence. She was right. We never stopped loving or caring for one another and because I had to be the glue for her and I all these years while he fell apart, I never took time to deal with my feelings and emotions related to him, us, or our failed marriage.
He is gone now. He spoke words to me just before he died that I had hoped to hear from him for 20 years and for 20 years I was mad at him. I didn't act like it, or at least I didn't think I did. Looking back now, I did act like it. Not with rage or angry words, but with my silence and shutting down.
I was so attached to being mad at him that I forgot how to laugh with him when he got sober for a few weeks after our daughter was diagnosed with MS. He tried so hard to "fit in" with us but by that time, 20 years of it just being her and I, I didn't know how to do that. I had no idea how to laugh with him anymore. I was mad. I had no idea how to look at him without having so many mixed feelings that I just wanted to push him away emotionally. I was still so mad, and I didn't even realize it. By the time I identified it, he was gone.
I stood in front of my incense the other day, lit it and a candle, put my hands to my heart and began to speak out loud to him. I told him how sorry I am. I told him how much I love him. I told him that I wished I would have put down my anger sooner so that I could see him differently, hear him differently, and so that I could be more present in the moments I feel I should have and could have been. I told him I am sorry that this time around was so incredibly hard for him to exist in a healthy way. I told him how hard it was for me to see him become who he did because I never stopped loving him and wanting him to find his way home to himself, back to the incredible man I married. I told him that I will miss him forever. I told him it was finally time for me to heal the heart space that he wounded so long ago and open myself to be resilient in love.
I know I am ready now to give and receive beautiful, fun, respectful, deep love and be completely in love with an incredible man again.
To be resilient in love we have to go deeply into our wounded heart. We have to put down our anger and pain and stop being so busy holding it all together that we miss opportunities to be the person we need to be for ourselves, and maybe the person we need to be for the one who hurt us the most. It is in that moment of selflessness that we evolve past our grief and into the possibility of realizing a love like we have never known.