They Can't Take That Away From Me

Man. I’m a nostalgic mf’er these last couple of days.  I made it past my old anniversary without thinking of it.  Part of it is that I’m not really paying attention to the date, what with being on summer break. Part of it is that I think it FINALLY settled. I don’t feel the strong hurt I felt around my divorce, and the way my ex acted. I don’t worry about him as much. I even sort of accept my daughters not being in my life.  It sucked. Of course it sucked. But it is what it is. It’s sad that it ended the way it did, and sad that my ex was that person.

But.. I’m okay, and I’ve been okay for a long time now. The wounds are old.  I’m not saying they’re perfect, but they don’t sting.  A few weeks ago I teared up in the kitchen with Quinky and Traveler. A song Evan loved came on and I hadn’t heard it since we’d parted and I teared up. I realized it was the first time in a long time that I’d teared up about him.  I teared up more maybe because it was a moment when I remembered how much we loved each other, dancing in the kitchen.  I don’t really think about him much, and I don’t think about how we were really at all these days.  I’ve fallen in love again, and I’m a lot happier most of the time.  I love my ex because it’s the way I am built. But it doesn’t hurt anymore.  It’s more just that I hope he’s happy.

I think it’s healthy sometimes when long deep loves change.  In monogamy we stay because of duty, and security, and comfort. In poly sometimes we don’t acknowledge a relationship that isn’t whole. It can hobble along indefinitely because nobody has to be EVERYTHING to anybody, but really because it can be a crutch for not looking at how we love and are loved by THIS one person and how it’s not a whole or functional relationship. Other people fill serious gaps.

I’m definitely not an advocate for ending long love but I can see where sometimes it needs to change.  I’m a lover of commitment and growth.  I crave security like a missing limb sometimes.  But when I’m really really honest, there are things that just weren’t okay in that relationship and at the very least we should have addressed them.  We should have changed.  I did what a lot of us do though, and I told myself that my needs didn’t matter because this and this and this are good, so I should just be happy, and by and large I was.  While it’s true nobody can be perfect, it’s also true that partial relationships aren’t really wise uses of so much of our time and thought and heart.

We have this one precious life, that I know of. I’m glad I didn’t spend the rest of mine there because I would have missed the paths my life is taking. I’m living more.  I’m taking risks and realizing dreams and available for the things of my heart.

I love him. I loved him. But I love this too.  And there are a lot of good things about being here.

I have been cleaning like mad and going through things and purging things,  in fits and starts.  I read through some old stuff on the copy of the hard drive I’d made, taking all the pics I wanted off of it and the documents, and it confirmed what I thought Evan and his shipmate’s relationship had actually been in the year he was away at sea. And I realized I wasn’t sad or angry. I’d always known.  It’s ancient history and not my problem anymore. I’m not married to a person who lies like that.  I don’t live with the big lies and the little lies and the stupid lies. I don’t live with that kind of selfishness.  It’s just not a part of my life at all.

And looking at the pictures of the family that I had lost didn’t hurt as sharply. I smiled to remember all the little things. I’m in there.  I took most of the pictures, so I was behind the camera, but there they were, smiling at me.

Colonial Williamsburg, video games, popcorn, The Fifth Element, and introducing them all to The Christmas Story and The Grinch.  Evan’s first time he ever sat on a motorcycle. His Harley Davidson. Alyssa shooting pool and laughing outside of Starbucks. Aubrie with her figure drawing. Framing Alyssa’s painting as a surprise for Evan. My cat Battee sitting on my chest. Alyssa losing her shit at some amusement park and the ice cream store. Aubrie doing a little dance. Leeloo as a tiny puppy. Making homemade pasta. Hawaii. Virginia. New Mexico. Arizona. D.C., California, Washington. The cross country drives. Evan’s titanium bicycle and the jerseys. The first Hawaiian shirt I bought him. The ones over the years. The road trips. The homemade ice cream. The trips to the market and our carpet picnics. The skull ring I gave him. Him laughing and modeling the wallet chain making him feel like a biker. The Dallas games. Roller Derby. L&L BBQ. Poulsbo Dairy Queen with our friends. Game nights. So many game nights. Squirrel and duck jokes. Goldfish crackers. A love of things with skulls on them. Downtowners. Sugar skulls. His first pedicure. His old truck. His new old truck. Art. Books. Dancing in bowling alleys. Cupcakes with sprinkles. The Old Spaghetti Factory where we had our first date. Alyssa getting on a plane. Aubrie getting off of one. Chalk drawings and story time and the funny hairdos we made watching movies. Teaching Aubrie to swim. His vasectomy pictures he had wanted me to take (LOL). Him grumpy and playing on his phone. Laying in bed with him and another woman, and we are all so smiley and lovey and sated.  Him coming home. Him coming home again. And even more of him coming home. Him in uniform. Us dancing in a parking lot. The silly poses. The girls doing a show for us. Alyssa on the star search stage. Aubrie making cookies. Cuddled on the couch selfies.  His butt in almost every hotel room we ever stayed in. The poems he’d leave me. The kisses I sent him.

I’m in there.  And nothing that came later or will ever come will ever erase that. I’m glad I had that time and glad I finally got my closure. Nobody has ever or will ever know him like I did. Alyssa and Aubrie will never be little again. Nobody else will ever take summers off to take care of them and drive all night so they can see their Daddy. Nobody else will read them bedtime stories like we did.  Nobody else will be with Evan in the darkest moment of his life. I was in there, making them love these things, sharing what I loved.  I was there. Nobody else will remember the children he lost or that little turtle looking being in the dark image on that screen. Nobody else will sit in a yard with puppies crawling all over them and fall madly in love with Leeloo with him.  Nobody else will be picked by Battee to take her home from the shelter. I was there.  I was in there.  And just as they are in me and I can’t ever erase that, and no longer want to, I am in there too.

It all existed and it all ended and that’s okay.  I wish our relationship had changed instead of ended. I have friends in the poly community that realized they were sort of in a marriage of convenience. Their children were grown and gone, and it’d been forever since they had had a passionate connection and forever since they’d really been right for each other.  They loved each other, but it didn’t work anymore and hadn’t for a long time. They found a new place for him and he moved out. They still spend their holidays together and still meet often for lunch or a Sunday dinner. They still support each other and celebrate all of their kids things together, and they still talk to each other about much of the things in life, but they were able to mostly gracefully separate to make room for the things they both craved. She found a girlfriend and is monogamous, and lives in a cohousing facility with her girlfriend and a few of her friends, and he is dating a few people, but nothing very serious yet.  He got a place close to her new one.

I wish all endings were so graceful and so honored the connections to the people in our lives when our relationships have changed. I wish maybe once a quarter I could sit to a coffee with Evan and talk about how things are. I wish we were still allowed to love each other even if it was time to part. I wish we’d caused less damage and I wish I still had my daughters, just as another person in their lives that loves them.  I wish we could all get a cupcake with sprinkles and laugh. Evan and I always made each other laugh so much. We just shared a sense of humor. I used to tell Evan it was good that he was funny, because someday his looks would go, but at least he’d still be funny. I’d give anything to laugh with him again.

But things are what they are, and so I wish him well from afar and accept that this is the way things are. And these things are okay. They are exactly as they should be I guess.  And I’m okay. I’m more than okay. I’m happy.  I’m having adventures with a love of my life.  I’m growing. I’m thinking about what I want and going after it, in love and career and life.  I’m plotting my future home and the things I want to do with my work. I’m dreaming, alone and with my love. I hope that the things and the people that I love will last forever, but I know that change in inevitable and constant. I hope to embrace the change as it comes and maybe get a bit more graceful in adapting to new realities. These pictures were the things that existed and don’t anymore, but I am in there and they are in me.  And they can’t take that away from me.

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