Tomorrow will be an unusual anniversary of sorts for me, and like always, I'm in a reflective mood. You see, seven years ago tomorrow, October 7th, my partner of twenty years and I, Joe, parted ways for good. The event marked an ending to more than five years of regretful unhappiness, and when it happened a myriad of feelings washed over me all at once. There was sadness and regret, a little bit of fright, but most of all I felt a sense of great relief, like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
That was a long time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had actually tried to break up with him...well not really break up...several months prior to that. On our 20th anniversary in June of that year, I had written him a letter explaining all that I had been feeling, how the silence in our home and in our relationship had become deafening. I think deep down inside I was hoping it would spark some conversation between us, but at the time I was too afraid to give it to him.
There was a moment, two months earlier, when I knew our days were numbered. It was during my April break from school and I had asked Joe if he wanted to take a trip down to Atlantic City with me for a couple of days. Somehow being away from home always seemed to light our spark, and I was hoping for some of that, but in a manner that had become common between us, he never really answered me. I simply continued on, not knowing whether the trip would ever happen. I booked the room anyway.
The night before the trip came quickly, and the time had come to pack. Joe and I had been watching television together in silence when I decided to get a move on. I walked over to the couch where he was laying and asked him if he was coming with me. Nothing. Not a sound nor even a glance in my direction. I retired upstairs to pack for myself, my eyes welling up already.
It was that long trip in the car, alone, that sparked in me a sense that I had to take action...eventually. I remember being in tears virtually the entire three-hour trip and then some. I was miserable in those moments, save for a little song I had discovered called Sing, which I remember playing over and over in an attempt to make me forget. That letter came out of me not even two months after...
On October 7th, 2007, Joe confessed to me that he'd found my letter, four months after I had written it.
Do you still feel that way? he asked.
Okay, so how do we do this?
"How do we do this?" Though that question immediately flicked that albatross I'd been carrying with me off of my shoulders, the next days, weeks, months, and even years brought me to a reality which took me a long time to get over. Joe wasn't happy either. Though not optimistically, I had hoped the letter was going to spark a long overdue dialogue between us. That wasn't going to happen. He wanted the end to come as much, if not more, than I did.
So that was it. The end of one of the most meaningful 20 years of my life and the beginning of a new era. Seven years on I can look back knowing that this was inevitable and all I can do today is appreciate the time we did have together. My life is completely different these days, better in some ways and not so much in others, but I have in turn discovered the real me, not one half of a couple. And that's awesome!
Though I reflect on that time now as it happened then, I harbor no ill towards Joe or that dark period of mine and his lives. He and I are totally good nowadays, and I'm thinking though he and I now have more of the lives we really wanted for ourselves, he looks upon our time in much the same way as I do. So for what it's worth, happy unniversary sweetie!