A long time ago, in a previous life, I was married. In mid July 1999 he packed his things and a month later he moved interstate to take a position after leaving the services, but that’s a whole other story! I hadn’t seen or heard from him since 1999 which was our last verbal communication. The property settlement was finalised in October 2000 and the decree nisi became absolute on August 31, 2001.
In about 2008 I bumped into his sister at work in Brisbane, her husband and I work for the same organisation. We chatted briefly (it was morning tea time), and she told me what she’d been doing, how their Mum was, about the death of her stepfather (must have been devastating for their mother), and that she’d suddenly found she was pregnant at 40, after years of infertility. I was delighted to hear of her miraculous conception. I also didn’t ask her any questions about the family or my ex as I didn’t want seem to be snooping/fishing and I didn’t want him to know I’d asked after him, and I didn’t offer any information about myself. She did ask if I was still living in the same place. I had some things which I had been keeping for all those years to eventually return to my ex, but I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. I thought at some stage I’d send them to her husband to get them back to the ex.
Last year my friend was bored and did a bit of internet/facebook stalking. We were chatting over the phone and she asked me a few questions about the ex. She found him! She told me that it looked like he’d remarried. I was a bit surprised, but commented that they looked happy and that I hoped he was happy.
For many years I have told myself that I couldn’t have felt as strongly as I should have about him, perhaps I didn’t love him, and therefore I shouldn’t have married him. It seemed that it was too easy to put my feelings out of my heart and mind. At the end I wasn’t treated very well, we didn’t do anything together, we just stayed at home, me with the TV and him with his computer and computer games.
At 23 I met the love of my life (TLOML). Months after the separation I worked up the courage to call TLOML. We talked. One day he turned up out of the blue. Just drove in the driveway, on his way to Brisbane Airport to pick up his daughter, I hadn’t seen him since about 1988, when I met my husband. Even after twenty years when I saw him my heart was a-flutter, I was rendered speechless and kept catching sly glances sideways at him, not quite believing that he was with me! We travelled to Sydney a couple of times in 1999 and in 2000, but it was just to share the journey, we only spent the time in the car together. He was still very attractive to me ten years older than me and nearly twenty years on, and I suppose that’s because of the involvement of the heart in the whole thing.
About three years ago, after not seeing TLOML for quite a few years and always being the one to call him, I hung up on him on his birthday and haven’t been in communication since (the reasons are too much to go into here). There were a whole lot of things which just weren’t right. I suppose after all those years I realised that he would never change and I could never be a major part of his life, he just didn’t have time with his daughter, and his community work in his small town, he couldn’t fit me into his life. I couldn’t be part of his life as the mother of his child blamed me for their breakup.... Oh I could tell that story, it’s a doozie, I wasn’t even seeing him then! Even though my feelings for him are still strong, and I have no doubt that the heart would do flippity-flops if I was in his presence today, I’ve shut down the feelings and I’ve resisted any temptation to write to him or call him, and it’s been easy. I know what it feels like to love someone deeply, it’s a feeling you get when you see them, when you are with them.
My mother said I married on the rebound from TLOML. I began to think that this may be true a long time ago. After my husband left TLOML asked one day why I’d married, good question, should I have stayed single all my life in the hope that TLOML would suddenly come to the realisation that he couldn’t live without me? I don’t think so. I thought Mum was right, she quite often is, I had married on the rebound. After he left I was thinking what on earth I’d seen in my husband. It was also quite sudden, his leaving. (And that “why” is a whole ‘nother blog post.) Looking back after over ten years I know I coped. I had to. Though sometimes I wonder if I coped well. I had no permanent job and a mortgage, a small mortgage luckily.
In June I received an email from my ex. It took me by surprise and it seemed like a tiny door opening contact between us. I barged in, filling him in on the losses (family members and dogs), which he wouldn’t know about, to save him from the embarrassment of asking (which is another reason I didn’t ask his sister questions when I saw her). He was very low. His second marriage had broken down and he was having a hard time. He apologised for the way he treated me by leaving and for putting me through so much stress when he left.
We’ve been emailing ever since. He said he was happy to talk with someone who knows him and who will be straight. I’ve told him that there’s plenty of water under the bridge and we can be friends. I included a best friend in some of the emails, he’s really funny and needs people around him, and he asked after her. I said she was free, so now he’s taking her out. It’s good. People find it freaky, but I’m OK with it, so why wouldn’t anyone else be OK with it?
On Thursday I had to go into Bris to the cardiologist and on the way home was stuck in a traffic jam. I’d be passing a good Chinese restaurant turnoff at the time when the restaurant might be open so I thought I’d give it a go. I got a call from my best friend who lives nearby the restaurant and we talked, I thought about calling in, she said that someone was coming to look at her car. I said OK, then she told me that the someone was my ex. Dilemma! She said it should be OK, I didn’t want to make things awkward with them by being there, but she reassured me that, as long as we were grown up, and there was no fighting*, it should be fine. I asked “Can I just give him a Chinese burn?” She said “No. Not even a dead-leg.”
He’s just a little older than he was last time I saw him (he looks a bit like Neal McDonough, the actor in Band of Brothers). He’s still very funny with his one-liners. He approached me and we hugged. We three chatted over coffee and the engine of the car. You know, in that half hour I realised that there was something there, when I was married I had those feelings, I did get married for the right reasons. The “what did I ever see in him” thought is forever banished from my mind, and I don't feel guilty that I may have married him because he was there and it may have been my last chance.
The Chinese food was $35 worth of garbage. Must have been the cook’s night off.
*she was, of course, joking!