When my husband left me, I had always thought that although I knew our marriage wasn’t working, we had married too young, that I would be the one to say goodbye. But one day I came home to our house in the city to find a note that said “Dear Greta, Our time together has been wonderful, but we can no longer be married. I will be back for my things over the weekend. You can reach me on my handee. Love forever, Rüles.”
I remember I picked up the letter and the flood of happy memories nearly knocked me down. For some reason, the only thing I could think about at the moment was that the really bad part was that he had typed it on the computer and printed it. It was like an insult on top of an insult. He left his wedding band, a band ring we had bought together on an early trip to Prague where we toured the beaches and canals and knew that we were in love, on top of the cold note.
I was devastated. It was not so much inside me that I was terribly sad about our marriage ending. We had only been married six years and most of those years were spent arguing. We argued over money (we had none), we argued over sex (he wanted more), we argued over our friends (I hated his), we even argued over the dog (spending too much time with the dog over my husband). Anyone with eyes in their head could see this was a doomed arrangement from the beginning. Our friends tried to give us counsel for help to keep our marriage strong, but despite some wonderful memories, we both knew I our hearts that we were not meant for each other. We are simply too incompatible.
Yet in my mind, I would be the one to say goodbye. I would have a fabulous job, an army of going-on-the-town girlfriends to support me, my sister nearby, and of course a fabulous wardrobe and a closet full of zippy shoes. The reality was that most of our friends were OUR friends together as a couple, my sister still lived in Hamburg, and my wardrobe consisted of many of the same clothes I’d been wearing for the past five years.
I think to myself, “this is not supposed to be how this happens to me.” Maybe I watch too much Sex & the City or shows to appreciate living alone and hardships. I was most definitely not prepared.
I gained twenty pounds – I ate ice cream for dinner every night. (who cares what I looked like? No one would EVER love me again!) My doctor cried in dismay at my wretched. I would cry, eat a lot, watch TV and cry over sad commercials about baby food and erectile dysfunction medications (we’ll NEVER grow old together and need ED tablets!!!) I stopped seeing friends. My sister came for a visit but had to leave again to get back to her job and family (Family! I’ll NEVER have babies now!) The one good thing was that Rüles didn’t ask for anything. Not even Benny, who I knew he loved, but knew that I needed Benny.
Benny got me through my divorce. His poor fur was soaked through and through more times than he could imagine without getting baths. He sat with me on the bed while I curled up in Rüles’s old clothes and watched sad movies and cried. I cried and cried and cried.
Rüles called and asked if he could come over one day to get some things he had in storage, and at first my reaction was not to see him. I hadn’t seen him much. He was discrete when coming to get his things, but each time I knew he’d been there I imagined his cologne and grabbed an old shirt and went into another crying jag.
But when he got there, although I had steeled every fiber in my being against the tragic moments I foresaw coming (me throwing myself at his feet to take me back, me flinging myself off the balcony after him, me dying old and alone…) when he walked in the door, it almost felt like a stranger, or rather, like a friend had walked in, someone I hadn’t seen in a while and was pleasantly surprised to see. I was quite shocked that I actually cared (for I’d alternated between damning him to Hell forever to planning my revenge to begging for his forgiveness and promising to change everything about myself so I could be the woman he desired).
We sat at the table and talked like two rational adults. I was quite proud of myself. When he left, I fell into another depression and cried, but then I realized I wasn’t so much crying for Rüles, and it seemed as though we could be better as friends, which I always knew in my heart of heart to be true, but rather grief of something lost, the FEAR of starting over, alone, dating, managing on my own. I was crying for loss, and because I was scared.
Today I’m not quite in the super-high powered job with a closet full of designer dresses, but I’ve moved to my own little place, am truly enjoying work, and am actually rather discovering who I am. I was too young to get married – our marriage was wrong. The death of the marriage though felt almost like someone, or something rather, was dying. I grieved for what could have been. But today I am dating a wonderful new man. It’s very new. It’s very different than Rüles and this still seems strange to me because in my mind I always had all of my future imaginations towards growing old with Rüles.
I’m working my way there.