Why is it that our emotions have such a hard time accepting reality even after every other part of us has accepted the truth about the person who is now our ex?
I was cleaning up my e-mail folders the other day and found among them one for my ex-husband, a man I divorced in 1995. The folder came about when Philip contacted me a couple of years ago, totally out of the blue, wanting to know how his cat, Smokey, was doing.
You see, the cat was pretty much the only thing he had when our marriage broke up. He was unable to care for her back then and had asked if I could watch her for a few weeks while he got his living situation straightened out. The cat never left and I resolved to surrender to loving that cat despite the fact that it was his cat and she was only supposed to stay for a little while.
Hearing from Philip over a decade later was a surprise because when we parted ways, I was pretty sure that someone who couldn’t even manage to care for a cat would be on the streets by now. But there he was, writing how he was living in Florida, training guard dogs professionally and about to go to Afghanistan. Attached to the e-mail was a photo he described as himself with his son.
Gasp. A son? I opened the attachment and was relieved to see Philip with a German shepherd. Despite it all, I felt that a human son should have been my son too, by right of having once been Philip’s wife. I saved that e-mail in the “Philip” folder along with a few other e-mails we had exchanged at that time — and here it was again, found and re-read once more.
His cat, my cat, our cat was now 18-years old and, just a few weeks earlier, had narrowly escaped death from a liver ailment, but she was on the mend thanks to a $2400 veterinarian bill. Should I contact Philip and ask him to help pay it?
That one question brought up every single argument we had ever had, every single memory of what it meant to be his wife. Despite everything I know about him, myself and life, damn if I didn’t go right back to the emotional, illogical woman who once again wanted to believe that Philip would step up and be who I wanted him to be, instead of just accepting him as he is — someone who wouldn’t be taking care of Smokey or me.
Our ex’s have a way of doing that kind of number on our heads. Just when you think you’ve totally grown up and accepted reality, you discover that they still occupy some small place inside your head called fantasy land — ever ready to re-connect synapses in your brain in a way the rewrites history.
For years, and certainly during our marriage, I was convinced that Philip needed to change. If he would be who I wanted him to be, then we would both be happy. But by the time I realized I needed to stop working on fixing him and instead, work on fixing my desire to change him, the marriage was over.
And the $2400 vet bill? I did mention it after we exchanged several e-mails. When I did, the e-mail exchanges abruptly ended along with my resurrected fantasy. But no matter how obvious it may be to me now, it amazes me that after all these years the glimmer of what might have been is never completely extinguished.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.