Recently I had dinner with a friend of mine who was recently separated. I have known her and her family for about 20 years. It had been awhile since we hooked up. Finally we found a time that worked for both of us. So off I went to her house to have dinner with her and her two boys. Four hours later, I emerged a bit tired, both physically and mentally. Also very happy. Happy that we had a chance to catch up and to see that while she is struggling, she’s doing a bit better, all things considered. I also found myself in an….awkward position. Okay, maybe not awkward, but viewing things from a different perspective. Don’t get me wrong, that is often a good thing, and this was proving to be no exception.
You see, she separated a short time ago due to her husband becoming both verbally, mentally and at times physically abusive. But wait, there’s more. This was due to a vast change in behaviour due to a brain injury sustained three years ago. And while he survived it, he was changed. Permanently. It was also getting worse. While that makes the situation even more sad, it doesn’t mean she has to be a victim and sentenced to a life of despair. Even though it is not something anyone can control, she had to do something. A brave but necessary decision.
One thing that she is struggling with is that never in million years did she think even a year ago that she would be a single mom, separated from the person she had been with for 25 years. And while she knew it was not deliberate, he was no longer the man she married. So there I am listening, supporting and trying to provide whatever small amount of comfort I could, I couldn’t help but think, that was me. I was the one that caused the same pain for my ex. And that was really hard to take. Okay, so ya, I have been able to process all of that on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level? Different story. The impact of what I did was starring at me in the face, albeit with a surrogate.
I was exposed to all the emotion, hurt, and pain the change in her husband was causing her. I could only imagine that was very similar to the pain I caused my ex. I say “imagine” because I never got to find out. You see, I never got to see the full impact on my ex. She simply left. Okay, maybe not simply, but you know what I mean. We never talked it out. She didn’t want to. I offered to go to couples counseling. She declined. I offered to introduce her to my therapist who would be able to answer some of her questions regarding transgender. She declined. I offered several quality authoritative resources on the topic. She declined. She even went so far as to tell me via an email that she wasn’t going to research any of it. She never yelled at me, cried at me, called me names, threw things (which should never do regardless), but you get the picture.
So I never got to see what impact I had. Which at the time was probably a good thing as we were both pretty fragile. But that whole thing was lacking in my experience. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I have difficulty with closure. Regardless, I did witness first hand the implications of a similar yet different situation. We both acknowledged that I caused the same pain for me ex as she was experiencing to a certain degree. But we were able to get passed it pretty quick as I continued to focus on her. This wasn’t in any shape or form about me. It was all about her. And so it went.
The shoe was certainly on the other foot for the first time in a while. And let me tell you, I could feel the blister forming. But it did provide an opportunity to reflect and learn. So for now, there is bandage on and I’m back to my comfy shoes.