I had a bad moment last week.
They don't happen as often anymore, now that he's been gone awhile. It's been over two years since he last walked out the door, climbed up into his fully-packed pickup truck with the kids (who were going for their first Daddy overnight) and backed out of the driveway.
I stood in the doorway, waving hard with a big smile on my face for the kids.
See kids! It's OK! It's all going to be OK!
But it wasn't OK. And as I walked through my house with the big empty spot where the couch in the family room used to be and the weird marks on the rug where the end tables used to stand, I knew it would be a long time before it was OK again.
These days, I'm mostly OK. The big struggles now are finances and logistics and boredom and single-parenting. My life has devolved into getting through today and tomorrow with an eye to how next week is going to fall. It's an improvement. I used to just try to get through each day.
Last week, though, I got surprised. I woke up early one morning and it was raining - I have always found rain to be incredibly romantic - and I was warm beneath the comforter in my big, queen sized bed when I turned my head and saw that empty spot next to me. Suddenly, I missed him. I missed him and I wanted to be warm in his arms and listen to the rain and his breathing and know I was loved.
Foolish, I know. I was never really loved the way I thought I was by him. If I were, he wouldn't have moved on, even before we were done.
Even before I knew we were done.
And he's got a new companion and new life and beautiful new house they bought together with state-of-the art everything while I try to figure out how to repair a toilet flapper and can't fix my lawn mower and my oven doesn't work anymore.
It's easy, so easy to feel like I got the short end of the stick.
Even if they don't end up making it work, he's still got a whole playing field out there waiting for him. He's good-looking, with just enough distinguished gray in his hair. He's fit. He's got a great job as an executive and he can date down twenty years without getting much of a reaction out of anyone.
Me? Well, a late-fortysomething, not-quite-at-my-dating-weight single Mom with two kids still at home doesn't have quite the same options. And if I tell someone I'm someday-dating that I'm heavily in debt to my underwater mortgage, I have primary physical custody of my kids and oh, by the way, my son has autism - well, let's just say my prospects will be even more less-than-stellar.
Yeah, I got the raw deal. Taken to the cleaners. Treated like a doormat. I deserve to feel shafted. I try not to wallow in it too much or label myself a victim, because that's counter-productive and a total waste of time. It is what it is, and I got what I got and now it's up to me to move forward.
Some women are immobilized by the grief that comes with this kind of a wound. Some retreat into bitterness and anger and vengeance. Don't paint me with a saintly brush - I've inhabited all those worlds for short visits, but I haven't felt like staying and building a house on any of them. The thing that's seen me through the worst of this (other than my children, of course) is this one simple truth.
I haven't lost as much as he has. Not really.
I lost someone who didn't really love me as much as I thought he did. He, on the other hand, lost someone who loved him very much, and with everything she had. I am capable of having and sustaining such a love.
It's not much to cling to some days.
But some days, it feels like a victory flag set atop the mountain of my new truth.