Facing Your Fears

I finally saw a photo of her. The new wife. For years I'd been avoiding this moment, fearing it. I feared it despite hearing comments like,
  • She's a pale imitation of you.
  • She's a piece of work.
  • She walked into the room and I overheard her saying, "Watch me, I'll have them eating out of my hand in less than an hour." She didn't.
I should have known better than to run from my fears. My good friend Leslie offered to show me a picture of her years ago, knowing what I would find. But I couldn't let go of my worry that somehow Bob had traded me in for a better model. The new wife might not behave with much class or decorum, but I knew she had been successful in business and had made a considerable fortune. Bob had also gone through great pains to tell me that she "completed him." She was his "soul mate." I didn't want to find out what a completer looked like.

Well, now I know.

One day when the opportunity presented itself I looked. And paused. And looked again. And felt nothing but relief. It felt like I'd removed a yoke.

And then my funny bone took over and the laughter poured out of me. They looked like two plumb salt and pepper shakers. The image was simply too much, and I have been laughing ever since.


Over Fifty and Divorced? You're Probably OK

Here's an interesting online article about divorce after 50 from AARP titled A House Divided. It comes to this conclusion:
At all age levels, midlife divorcers did quite well on our survey's measure of contentment and expectations for their future. When compared with respondents to other recent surveys, they reported roughly the same measures of happiness as other single Americans their own age, and those who remarried also scored very high. This held true regardless of who made the decision to split or how long the marriage lasted. As for regrets, about 70 percent of those who initiated the divorce were confident they'd done the right thing.

Memories of Then and Now

I ran across a photo of my ex yesterday. Well, I googled it. He looked old and tired and gray.

Here's why I searched for his image. Last week a college friend came over to visit and inevitably the talk turned to those bygone days ... and Bob. Last Friday Animal House came on. That was our (Bob's and my) favorite movie in the 70's. In fact, when Bob's fraternity brothers would get together they would act out the parts. All felt that the movie portrayed their fraternity life in the house to a tee (I'm sure all partying fraternities from those days think the same thing), and I will always associate that movie with Bob and his friends. The guys had "adopted" my friend and I, the two blonds as they called us, as honorary fraternity members and we reveled in our special status.

Yesterday, talk at a women's lunch I attended turned to divorce and acceptance. Of the five women, two of us were divorced. We spoke of our exes without rancor, having made the decision to move on. One of the women asked if I still had contact with Bob, and I said "No, I don't care if I ever see him again. He's part of my past."

After lunch I thought about my statement and realized I was wrong. Bob still plays a huge part in my life. My relationship with him, which spanned over half my life, helped to make who I am today. Whenever I walk along the river and see a bicyclist whiz by, I think of him. Whenever I enter the garage, I see his handiwork. We chose some of the furniture I still use. And while I enjoy myself immensely when I am with old friends I haven't seen for a while, I feel like half of a whole. Something is missing in the chemical mix: Bob.

My memories of Bob fall in two categories. The old Bob who I loved with all my heart; and the Bob of the days of our divorce. Somehow, I am able to separate the two and recognize that my old life, filled with so many happy memories, had value. But that my present life, which has taken on such a different direction and tone, has meaning as well.

So, feeling nostalgic but not alone on a Saturday night, with my faithful pooch at my feet, I googled Bob's name and came up with two photos. One was taken of him when we were married, standing at a tourist spot with the Rockies in the background. The other must be a recent faculty photo. Before clicking on that photo I felt trepidation, but on seeing it I felt ... nothing. Nothing at all. He looks like some distant uncle I had never met, and a faint shadow of the Bob of my memories. Which is where he belongs.

Photos: Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary, then and now