When I spoke those words to Dan, we were in the beginning days of our second chance at love…
He had just said that he wanted to date other women. The truth of the matter, I knew that he had never stopped seeing others besides me so this wasn’t a real surprise.
I knew that I couldn’t react to his statement, yet I knew that I needed to establish that I was not going to be undone if he didn’t want a life with me.
At that time in my life, I had survived a messy divorce and I was determined to never “need” a man. I owned a company and I was providing for my son and myself quite well.
What I wanted was to share and build a life with someone and I knew that I wanted Dan to be that person.
I also knew that Dan had been emotionally devastated by his last marriage and divorce. I held on to the belief that somewhere inside this wounded man was the one that I had loved when I was 17 years old.
Had I reacted like Dan expected me to such a statement, I knew that he would have run like a deer on the first day of hunting season. So, uncharacteristically, I managed to appear a little “nonchalant” about the whole idea of him seeing other women, all the while, my heart was about to wilt.
Swhirling around in the middle of the tornadic statement, I knew that he cared for me, even loved me, but I also knew that I represented everything that he believed to be a total impossibility for him.
I represented stability, normalcy, even a safe harbor. All these things were the deep desires of his heart but he convinced himself that he destroyed them. He fearedthat he would either disappoint or fail me. He was well aware that he had a pattern of walking away and leaving those he loved behind.
He had endured much emotional abuse and suffering from his second marriage. His heart was left with a huge hole filled with bitterness and, at some point, he vowed that he would hurt as many woman as he could ( his CB handle was Heartbreak) because of how one woman hurt him….I knew that he was tottering on the brink of hatred for women, but I believe that he knew that he cared too much for me and that he didn’t want to do that to me.
As a heavy silence hung in the air immediately after he made his statement, I finally replied that it was alright if he wanted to see other women, but if I found someone that I was interested in, I didn’t want to see him.
His reaction was one of being off balance at both my reaction and my statement. He hadn’t anticipated my response.
He asked that, even if we dated others, if he couldn’t come by my place for a glass of ice tea from time to time. I replied, “No.”
I told him that if he needed to talk to me, he knew where I worked and he could talk to me there. I went on to say that, if I was involved with someone else, I didn’t want to know anything about him, his family or any thing that we shared together, so, in essence, there was nothing to talk about with me.
He commented that when I ” cut it off ” I cut it to the bone. That is when I made this statement, ” I had a life before you came back and I will have one after you leave.”
With Dan, I would have been lying to myself to believe that I could be “just friends” I love too deeply to try and pretend that what I felt was only friendship. My heart never heals when I try and lie to myself about my feelings.
I realized that if things didn’t work out for us, I would have to go on and never look back. With my response to his statement, I wanted to convey that the time for us was now and that there would not be a “third time is the charm” opportunity. After a few days, he decided that he wasn’t that interested in seeing other women. Maybe my response was THE defining moment that secured our future together and it led to our marriage.
The other day as I was driving to my next client’s, I recalled my statement. As I pondered what I said to him at that time, it hit me. I realized that I was beginning to live my “after life”.
To have my “after life” I am having to recall all of the pieces of who I am. Some of those shattered shards will be discarded and others that were made during our years together will be carried forward with me.
Daily, I am rediscovering pieces of myself that I thought were lost; and others are new and exciting. All because there was a before, during and after lives. All of this brokeness complete with its splintering is producing a new definition of myself. It is so much differnt life that I had with Dan and so unfamiliar with the one that I knew.
A year ago, I could have never fathomed my life without Dan in it. Now, it is quickly approaching my horizon. In two weeks, it will be one year of life after Dan’s death.
Somehow, those words that were spoken are coming to fruition and I marvel that they were so prophetic….
I could have never dreamed when we first started our lives together that I would be living without him in a short 15 years. It makes me sad to think about those words today and how they became true.
Yes, there is a life without Dan. If taking those words back could have prevented them from coming true, I would do it in a heartbeat, but that isn’t reality. It is just one of those grief moments when the life I am living seems that it should belong to someone else.