Barbara Redfield lives in Big Indian, NY. She is a teacher, writer and artist.
Fourteen years after my divorce ... it's finally over. It feels like an eternity. Twenty years of marriage and almost as many years to recover. I can not count the times, I have thought to myself, " okay, NOW, it is finally over! " but it never was ... Once again, there would be something that would trigger an emotional tsunami ... Often unexpected ... a heart stopping moment, when I could feel the adrenaline rush. If I was able, in that moment, to observe myself, I came to a dead STOP ...no breath ... No motion of any kind ... Frozen in place, until I was able to remind myself to breath once again. Sometimes it would come as an email message in the midst of the incoming ads that I was deleting ... or a voice mail suddenly there, as I was making a list of calls to be returned ... or the mention of his name by an old friend from our Pathwork days inquiring about him,... or a song on the radio loaded with memories of going to a Paul Simon concert ... or the score of the Ranger game the night before ... or the antique clock that had not been running since he was the one to remember to wind it once a week ... or the headline on NPR that he would have had a sarcastic comment about ... or my grandson ordering a chocolate covered doughnut, his all time favorite.
This last year there have been more of all these events as we planned the wedding of our only child together. He has a new family now with two small children that is collapsing around him ... Restraining orders, mandated anger management,... AA programs ... Career traumas... not a pretty picture. All of which created a magnetic pull for me, the penultimate rescuer. There is Nothing I like better than to be the healer! I am the one who steps into the disaster zone to fix it all. I could be the mother his children needed and I could be the one to finally be recognized as the ONLY one who could heal his wounds. He was saying some of the appropriate things, acknowledging his part in making a mess of his life, but only just far enough to pull me into a conversation. But, I was hooked once again, in thinking I was needed. My fantasy was that he would finally realize that I was the one, that I was his soul mate, that he loved me and only me, above all others. It was just around the corner. I invited him to bring his new children to come for a weekend visit, knowing that they would fall in love with the magical place where I live on a lake in the mountains and with me, the perfect fairy godmother. They did. Strange to realize that his parenting skills were not what I remembered. These needy children reaching out to him were confronted by a guy sitting in a rocking chair in front of the fire playing a game on his iPhone. Maybe he was not the magical father I remembered.
We got down to the final planning of the wedding. His divorce from his wife, my successor, was a royal mess. He informed me that he was bringing his new girlfriend to the wedding. He accused me of being a prude when I reminded him that he was married and I did not think it was appropriate to bring a girlfriend to the wedding. My actions were in his words "beneath me". His blessing as part of the wedding ceremony was a description of the things that Harville Hendrix states are essential for a vibrant marriage in the book Getting The Love You Want. He did mention that I was the one who introduced him to these principles ... Conveniently forgetting to mention that I had dragged him kicking and screaming to a workshop with Harville Hendrix. He proceeded to lay out all the things that he had been unwilling to do to help our marriage survive, but that he suggested our daughter and her new husband follow. Amazing as he listed the things that Harville suggests, he left out the one thing that I believe doomed our marriage "remove negativity". I doubt if anyone at the ceremony heard the blessing the way I did, but to my ears he gave a description of how and why our marriage failed. The irony was difficult to escape. Needless to say the new girlfriend was at his side at the parents table, along with her "comfort dog" who ate his dinner from plates at the table. The piece d'resistance however was the morning after the wedding. As we gathered for the next day brunch at 10AM, he and his girlfriend were no where to be found. His children had been in my house since early morning. At 11AM I went to my friend's house to look for him as the agreement was that he needed to be packed up and out of the house at 10AM in time for the brunch. He was there in bed with his new girlfriend. In that moment, a shift happened. It was over.
There is a saying " it's not over until the fat lady sings ". I am a rather robust 74 year old woman. I have found myself singing and humming almost constantly since that moment. Like Kate Smith at the beginning of the NY Ranger games played a half century ago. I feel that I am bringing and ringing good luck to everyone and everything I encounter as I sing and hum along into the next phase of my life!