Coming up to three months of life (or rather, existing) without my husband.
Mr Ex and I communicated about “The Practical Stuff” (his term for the bills, mortgage repayments, legal matters, and so on) via email. He went into lawyer-mode. As a lawyer by profession, you can correctly assume that he is bloody good at putting on a poker face. Hidden emotion. Doesn’t give anything away. Mr I-can-keep-a-lid-on-ANYTHING-that-I-am-feeling. And that’s just him. And that’s OK. Possibly a coping mechanism from a childhood of watching his parents bicker, argue and then divorce, coupled with his career choice of a being lawyer. Or possibly just a personality trait that he was born with.
Mr Ex’s best friend, Tom, and Tom’s girlfriend, Samara, used to regularly go away for weekends with us at my parents’ holiday house near the beach. We’d make pizzas on the Weber BBQ, go sailing and make plans for holidays and adventures together.
You know what’s crazy? At the very beginning of this horrendous January 2013 – yes, the very month that Mr Ex revealed his affair – we had actually been at the holiday house with Tom and Samara having a fabulous time!
We first went down to the beach after Christmas with a friend of mine who was visiting from Canada. She had a new boyfriend and it was serious. Like, looking-at-my-engagement-ring-to-get-ideas kind of serious. With my 20/20 hindsight, I can now see that Mr Ex was a bit ‘funny’ whenever my Canadian friend and her boyfriend talked about engagement rings and wedding dresses and the like. But I didn’t think anything of it at the time though, because they’d only been together for a few months and it was ridiculously soon to be talking about weddings!!
We went to a New Year’s Eve party nearby with them. There was a pastor and pastor’s wife there. I remember Mr Ex avoided talking to them like they had the Bubonic Plague. Mr Ex was distracted with emails or something on his new iPad, a Christmas present which was of course still new and exciting. So, again, I didn’t suspect anything. Damn you, 20/20 hindsight; making me look like an idiot.
Then in the first week in January, the Canadian friends left and Tom and Samara joined us. I remember Mr Ex, Tom, Samara and I were making plans for a possible Sydney trip together.
No sign of any issues. No hint that Mr Ex would be making an earth-shattering revelation of an affair only two and a half weeks later.
At the time, to me, he seemed totally normal and present in our reality. Making future holiday plans together, holidaying by the beach with friends, celebrating the purchase of a new house… It was plausible that he was just sending a couple of emails with good reason and, of course, I trusted him.
So, going back to this beach house post-affair revelation was going to be tough.
In a bid to show me that life will continue and things can still happen without Mr Ex in my life, Tom and Samara were happy to keep going away for weekends with me. What champions!
I will always admire that.
So, we went away for the weekend in April 2013. And I knew this would be a painful trip. Not just because of the recent holiday that Mr Ex and I had share there….
Because Mr Ex proposed to me in this seaside town.
Yep. Memories. Ouch.
But, my parents have a beach house there, so I have two options. 1) Never go to the beach house ever again, or 2) Face some rather large ogres head-on.
There is a landmark in this seaside town. It is a hill – or mountain, depending on your definition – and it is covered with massive rocks. Mr Ex proposed to me on top of one of the rocks on that mountain. It is a tourist attraction as well as a remarkable spot to visit. If I wanted to make my peace with this seaside town and be able to appreciate the beauty of its natural landmarks, I was going to have to climb that mountain and triumph over that rock where Mr Ex proposed. Hike up that mountain, stand in that spot where he popped the big question, and just ‘be’. Be in that moment. Face it head on.
So, Tom, Samara and I climbed the hill.
And I was confronted with the humongous rock. Yes, this is the spot.
Perhaps it’s God’s sense of humour or perhaps God knew I’d be blogging one day and He wanted me to have good material, but there was a couple enjoying a picnic on our rock. Two ladies having a romantic picnic on the exact spot where Mr Ex proposed.
I shed a few tears. But the element of witticism was not lost on me. There was so much symbolism on so many levels.
I stood in the moment. In the pain.
Samara held an arm around me.
I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and grief. Grief over the loss of my best friend and beloved husband, Mr Ex, as well as the loss of my identity as Mrs Bell and the shattering of my every life expectation.
It was on that rock that Mr Ex asked me to marry him.
And that was the easiest question to answer because I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with him.
“There is a particular kind of suffering to be experienced when you love something greater than yourself… Like the pained silence felt in the lost song of a mermaid; or the bent and broken feet of a ballerina. It is in every considered step I am taking in the opposite direction from you.” -Lang Leav.
And by simply standing in that moment of anguish – feeling everything – I was, without any profound music or round of applause, letting go.
I’d conquered a mountain, both metaphorically and literally.
At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
Fake it ’til you make it, right?
Well, I learnt that the concept of ‘letting go’ is never as theatrical as in the movies. No triumphant music and no special effects.
It hurt bad.
And while I didn’t have the inclination to dance around on that mountain top belting out ‘Let it Go’ at the top of my lungs like Elsa, looking back now, whether I felt like it or not, I was actually growing.
I was learning to be me.
And, although it didn’t seem like a particularly special or poignant moment at the time, it was.
Often, I don’t think we realise the significance of a moment until they become history.
And that’s the thing with growth. It can feel like shit at the time. It can feel like we are going nowhere. It can feel like nothing is happening. But with hindsight, we were conquering mountains. Whether we realised it or not.
We returned to the house where we made dinner. Homemade pizza on the Weber BBQ as per usual. And it was delicious. Samara and I enjoyed a bottle of bubbly. Tom had beer. I’m sure it must’ve been a little odd for him. His best mate would normally be there to enjoy a beer with him. But Tom’s commitment to the cause was touching. That’s impressive, hey.
So I began feeling a little happier and a little stronger with it all.
Yay! Go me! I can do this! I’m a success story! Watch me conquer mountains! *happy dance*
And then, at the end of the evening, I was acutely aware that I was walking up the stairs to bed on my own.
Tom and Samara went to the guest bedroom where they always slept on our weekends away. Mr Ex, Rommet and I would normally go upstairs to bed. This time, it was only one flight of stairs, but it felt like another mountain. And it was.
Fuck. This sucks. Pain sucks. Mr Ex sucks. Cosette sucks. Life sucks. And this is sucky-unfair.
Mr Ex and the C-word are probably canoodling in bed together RIGHT-bloody-NOW, while I’m here, going up to bed all alone.
They are the ones who cheated, yet THEY get to be happy.
And, again, while it felt like I was making absolutely no progress whatsoever, I was moving mountains.
I was healing. I was breaking open. I was becoming the person I was always meant to be. And my love of Mr Ex was, actually, dying. Painfully, tragically, gut-wrenchingly dying.
Nauseating highs and lows. Conquering mountains and finding new valleys.
But progress nonetheless. And if there was a silver lining, it was simply that I could conquer mountains and endure valleys with dear friends by my side.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).