It's funny how you can feel like you're past something so certainly. You can feel yourself moving on, and you give thanks for that. You even start to get excited about the possibility of the future. That's when you know you have grown and healed from the hurt of a love that was lost.
Then, unexpectedly, one thing can hit you so squarely in the jaw that you find your mind spinning all over again as if it were the first day you knew it was over.
By the light of morning, I can reason it away. I can see that maybe it was God's way of showing me something that I can look forward to in the future. But, in the moment I read his letter, I felt devastated all over again.
My first love after divorce, may have been my truly first experience with that heart-racing thing that most think of as new love. It may sound sad to have not experienced this, because I was married for almost two decades to someone who cared for me deeply. But, it isn't that there wasn't love there. It just wasn't THIS kind of love.
Things ended poorly with this one, unfortunately. In comparison, I am good friends with my ex-husband and we work daily to support our kids together. He is moving on and about to be remarried to the woman he began dating just weeks after I'd moved out. And, I am truly happy for him and have told him as much. No, this most recent love ended abruptly with hurt, mean words thrown back and forth like weapons leaving marks as they passed through us. I was left very jaded and confused as to whether this man ever really loved me at all.
Last night, I found a letter he wrote me and gave me the first time we met in person. You see, we met online and talked for months before we ever saw one another in person. And, it was a strange and amazing thing that happened there....the connection we had just from words on a phone, texts, and shared photos. I had forgotten about how powerful the connection had been--until I read that letter that had been tucked in the back of a nightstand in a plain white envelope for me to stumble across one day.
The letter was an explanation of a CD he'd made me of love songs and songs that reminded him of me or that meant something powerful to him. Each song, introduced and explained in his amazing way. And, at the end, he spoke about this rare connection we had, and how excited he was about our future together. I could feel his happiness and anticipation in the words. A rush of what it was like came back to me, like a gust of wind that takes you by surprise on a fall day.
I took my breath in as I read the ending that I'd long since forgotten. He told me he loved me, even though he'd never laid eyes on me in person before. And, I remembered distinctly how it felt to read that--to feel so unconditionally loved for who I was as a human being. My marriage had not been like that. I'd spend most of our relationship feeling like my ex was never happy with who I was, always trying to change me into what he thought I should be. But, this had been different. I had been truly adored and loved for my heart and my mind, before a kiss had ever been placed on my lips by this dear man.
I wish I could have felt last night what I feel this morning---the sentimental realization that maybe that feeling will come to me again in a new relationship. Maybe THAT relationship will last forever and I will be able to read a letter like that to him as we laugh and remember how we met.
But, I didn't feel that way. I felt sucker-punched. I felt cheated and angry and confused all over again. I felt panicked about my future and wondered if I'd made a mistake by ending that relationship when the problems became bigger than the love. Today, I know that it was the right thing to do. Last night, I was desperate and heart-broken all over again, cursing myself for not putting the letter away with other memories I'd stored of our experience together.
This morning, when I awoke, I took in a ragged deep breath and realized that maybe I needed to find that letter right now. Maybe instead of leveling me, I should let it remind me of how it can be when you first fall in love. Maybe it is my reminder of what I deserve in a relationship, so that as I make my way through life as a single woman, I will be selective and not settle for less than knock-your-socks-off, simply amazing love...