Monday, February 28, 2011

Like a Toothache

In 2004 after 14 years of marriage, my former husband and I went our separate ways. With no children and both of us with full-time careers, it was a pretty straight forward and amicable divorce. We found a way to remain friends and I am truly happy to see him when our paths cross.

Six months after Dave and I separated I met what some folks refer to as Dave 2. I've always gotten a chuckle out of that and I think he did too. It was a whirlwind romance and within our travels, dinners, entertaining and conversations I found a part of me I hadn't previously known. I liked her. Life was fun, we lived it at full throttle, I felt deeply loved.

Somewhere along the line things shifted. It came with a sense that things weren't quite right. Call it intuition. Whatever it was, I put on my detective hat and snooped. Had I come up empty handed I may have chalked it up to irrational fear of having a good thing. But I didn't come up empty handed. I was hurt, he felt violated. Many conversations and we knew mutual trust was something for us to work on.

But the cycle had begun -- intuition, snooping, validation, hurt, feelings of violation. Wash and repeat. Wash and repeat. Wash and repeat.

Sounds pretty horrible when you read it, but it wasn't all bad. There were many joyful moments and experiences and a deep love for one another interwoven with the pattern.

It always felt like a toothache to me. While things looked good and there was happiness in our shared lives, there was always a low level pain. It was like going to the dentist and him saying, "That tooth is acting up, but it is a good tooth and until it is really screaming at you I wouldn't extract it."

This past weekend, after a long time coming, the tooth was extracted. And like a real tooth extraction, there is relief. There is also some bruising and tenderness and an empty space. The bruising and tenderness will heal. The question comes -- what to fill the empty space with?

After six years of a meaningful relationship, filling it with another person doesn't quite feel right. Although I must admit my thoughts have turned to that easy distraction a time or two. For now it is self care and reconnecting with myself. I'll kick it all off with an upcoming trip to Mexico and when I come back home I'll settle into yoga, piano, being outdoors and time with friends. With that and my work, the empty space will come to feel a bit less empty. And, then there may come a time when it feels right to make room for a little something more.