“forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” – oprah
i fell in love with a musician. in my defence, i used to book bands for a late night talk show so i like to think it was a job hazard. the truth is; it was beyond my control. we all know what happens when cupid draws his bow. the rules get blown out of the water.
we met while i was working on the talk show but it wasn’t until a couple of years later, at a muchmusic VJ’s birthday party that we really met. i had intended to drop in with birthday greetings and exit just as quickly. oh the best laid plans. he was the first person i saw that night but he may as well have been the last. right from the start, it was easy, familiar and comfortable. pair that with too many glasses of wine and we were on the dance floor shutting down the party. he came home with me that night and moved in 5 weeks later. the courtship was fast and furious and the love was fierce.
the first year of our relationship was a whirlwind. he was on the road a lot, but that made the homecomings sweet. my friends and i would flock his concerts and although i acted the cool, casual girlfriend; inside i was downright giddy. he wrote songs about me and i hung on every lyric. it wasn’t unusual for people to tell us that we were the “perfect couple”. i heard it so much that i actually started to believe it.
it made sense that because our love was intense, so were our fights. we didn’t do anything half-assed. i remember when we had our first argument. it was over something small and insignificant, but i immediately started to worry that it was the beginning of the end. looking back, i’m not sure either one of us ever fully settled into our relationship. we entered marital bliss completely unarmed.
the bickering turned to fighting, and it didn’t matter how far down in the trenches we’d go, we would continue to wake up the next day, put the gloves back on and go another round. not facing our problems, became our specialty. it was a product of not taking responsibility for just how much work a relationship is and we didn’t know how to handle anything less than perfect. after one particular extended absence, he arrived home and we didn’t even know where to begin. so we downed a bunch of wine because that had become our best bet for connection. that was the night our first daughter was conceived. again, we didn’t do half-assed.
having kids is the ultimate game changer. there is no job more difficult on the planet. and anything you like to avoid facing? ya, kids take your face and shove it right into those things. i am constantly amazed and inspired by my friends and family who have not only kept their marriage together after kids, but continue to like one another! it’s no joke. it’s not for the faint of heart.
when i was pregnant with our second child, he moved away for work. we’d already been apart a great deal but this time felt different. as we lived apart, we also grew apart.
i stopped caring that he was away and he stopped caring at all. i knew he’d met someone. i had no idea how to cope so i did the only thing i could come up with. i denied it. we carried on with life as though nothing had happened. we would shoot each other dirty looks in between laughing with friends and family. it was exhausting. we had gone from the highest high to the lowest low.
then one night, the fighting was just over, we had had enough. it’s amazing how you can feel it. i remember looking at him and quietly acknowledging it without words. we rolled over and slept soundly for the first time in months. he moved out 6 weeks later. watching him walk out the door brought sadness, relief and ultimately anger.
navigating those new waters were some of the most challenging moments of my life. erasing the line of husband and wife but trying to keep some sense of closeness for the kids proved to be harder than either of us ever imagined. old issues and arguments bubble close to the surface. we cling to them like life support because in the end, it becomes all you know. i sat in piles of hurt and blame and the only thing that felt safe to me was the relentless finger-pointing we had become so accustomed to. as i struggled trying to accept the new version of ‘us’, he dropped a bomb on me. he and his new girlfriend were having a baby and moving out of province. she was in her 20s and marrying my husband. she was the younger, shinier version of me. i would be raising my kids on my own. i didn’t think i would ever recover from that news.
i spent sleepless nights and bitter days wondering how this happened. i felt alone and unprepared and i wanted to blame him for all of my problems. so i punished him with harsh words and reminders of all the things he’d done. he’d serve up silence and shut me out. it was all nonsense but we were relentless. and although the girls never saw us fight, the tension was palpable and we were spiraling into a terribly dark place. i slowly accepted that this was how life with him would forever be.
then one day, something happened. i was in the shower washing my hair and all of a sudden, i stopped. i stood there soapy and stunned. tears streamed out of me without warning. a weight vanished from my shoulders. there was nothing that instigated it or any specific reason for it to show up right then. the only explanation is that i was ready. i was tired of being mad and it occurred to me that the only person suffering from my anger was me. i needed to forgive him. i needed to move on from the blame and the actions of our past; to accept that his choices were no longer my concern. i needed to find a new way to love him. i had to do it for me and for my girls.
so i tried to change my way of thinking. i reminded myself on a daily basis that we only get one shot at this and i needed to make my shot a good one. he chose his life and once i stopped feeling sorry for myself, i realized that i also chose mine. our texts and phone calls became light. i sent pictures of the girls and we would sometimes sign off with love. then one day he thanked me. he recognized and understood how hard it had been and he wanted me to know that he was grateful and he was sorry.
we still argue and roll our eyes and some days it feels utterly impossible. but we can stand in the same room and sometimes, even have a laugh. although it may not have been apparent in the ugly days, things always look clearer once the storm has passed. because of that love, i have two wee loves and i will forever be thankful for that.