There are matters one whittles away at for such long periods of time that the process of whittling moves into the background, becoming a sort of spinning, half-forgotten-ongoing-trance… a suppression that can sap one’s energy and affect health if truly forgotten. Otherwise, I believe the process is a natural one, working out complexities and integrating changes in a deeper than a calculated way. This has been the case in my own life, since separating from my husband of over 20 years, now about 4 years ago.
While going ‘about the day’ making sure to meet our needs and elevate our level of sanity, part of me has also been always reliving the whys and wherefores, the what-ifs and where-we-went-wrongs. When answering for the relationship’s failure and the financial and other challenges that have resulted, I’ve always found it hard to give the two of us much tenderness, but rather have categorized our mistakes as careless, stupid, short-sighted, preventable, with an underlying sub-text that blame leaned slightly more his way or mine.
After all, with distance there is also perspective, and we all want to learn so that we can do better going forward and help others avoid the situations we’ve come to see the paths to so nakedly, especially our kids if we have them.
My son asked a question on the way to school this week, about finances and investments. I’ve been so apologetic toward he and his sisters when I imagine what I would have liked to be able to do for them, with them, at these stages of their lives. I’ve been embarrassed to know how close we were at one time, even if I’m sure that the changes made were for the right reasons. There is little question that we are happier, more settled, and in the long term, healthier. However there is also little question that meeting day to day material needs is more of a challenge than it would have been had we not let the house go for way less than it was worth, drained investments… had we given more time, held on longer.
So what happened this week when my son asked his question? I began to describe our thinking when we first began… all the plans we made and the visions behind them, the reasoning and calculations, the values at the core of what we now know was our expanding perhaps too fast. From the tiny apartment, to the larger townhouse, to the leap we made in buying a “money pit” of an improvement project in the best neighborhood we could find. From the low interest rates we made sure of and the 15-not-30 year mortgage, to the 5 year plan that would allow us to move closer to the dream situation… how thoughtful and careful we were, banking on the energy of our desire and ambition, moving forward.
To be honest, I was impressed with us, even as I listened to myself describe where we went wrong, like purchasing hurricane shutters and a much too large dining set on credit, and even knowing that we were never too far gone to have recovered, but that our miserable communication skills eventually prevented our wanting to make it work together, prevented our seeing farther.
The thing is, so strangely and wonderfully, a huge, joyful feeling bubbled up as I described the condition of the house when we first bought it, and how we’d put every spare cent and second into improvements… learning so much by doing, including installing a much complimented new kitchen for nearly nothing, thinking of the horrendous mirrored wall that had first been there, and the dated mural from the 1980’s. I found myself smiling aloud, speaking of us with great affection and compassion.
What it comes down to is that I had forgiven us, but didn’t know it. Somewhere along the way, something had softened.
I loved those two young people and all their stubbornness and energetic dreams. I loved their ideals… their hearts… so deeply and completely. All I could think was “thank you thank you thank you… thank you thank you thank you” as I drove along with this nearly grown young man next to me, the youngest of three that we have indeed been able to do so many envisioned things with and for… a process ongoing, though changed.