Wednesday, September 23, 2015

August Nightmares

August is the anniversary month of my previous marriage.  Had we stayed together, we would have been together for more years than apart this year.  Funny how the math goes that you can hover so long and so close before reaching that tipping point.  It is like one of those age problems from Alegebra I.  When we were happy, we used to marvel at how much of our life we spent together and acknowledged that we really grew up together having been college sweethearts.  We were young and so much happened during those years.

Then suddenly, he left.

August has been a tough month for me after that part of my life was cleaved away.  The first year was awful...raw.  I was thankful for a kind friend's phone call.  I tend to try not to dwell on specific dates, even if they are etched in your brain.  I am more aware of the general season of those memories as they run in the background of my mind, getting further in the distance.  It has gotten easier over time, especially with wanting to let sad as that is, but neccessary.  This year was the first that the day came and went and consciously it didn't seem to bother me.  The undercurrent of sadness and malaise seemed a scant phantom.

However, I had the most terrible nightmares for a better part of the month.  And he was in most of those dreams, leaving me feeling unrested, upset and feeling used.  In a few of the dreams, I missed him and felt sad.  It was hard to shake the feelings after waking up.  At the time, I didn't connect the dots because the day had passed and I thought I was fine.  But, somewhere deep I am still letting go.

All of the dreams kind of made me worry about my relationship with T~.  I think it is all of the wedding stuff and how people say you only get married once and the person you marry should be your best friend.  Somehow it hurts.  Somehow there is guilt.  I once married a person who I felt was my best friend and intended only to be with him.  (Cue Don't Speak by Gwen Stefani, No Doubt.)  

I feel badly that T~ cannot be my first and only spouse.  I recoil when people make references to us being best friends.  I cringe when he says it.  My visceral reaction sickens me and I feel awful.  I don't want to marry a "best friend," after the last one.  But, would a best friend ever treat you like garbage with so little regard?  Can true friendships implode, deteriorate or devolve in such ugly ways?  Maybe he wasn't a friend in the first place?  Betrayal is so insidious.  It is difficult to believe that someone you loved and whom you thought loved you could actively make such choices.  It wasn't an accident or unintentional.  It was selfish, grossly selfish.  That is the hard part, when trust and respect are broken so horribly.

I know T~ is his own person...a wonderfully loving, kind and intuitive person.  I'm just having difficulty separating the term "best friend" from my past experience.  He either was never really my friend or he was, but then stopped somewhere along the way.

So, I try to reframe it by thinking about children giving each other friendship necklaces, the ones usually divided up into halves.  Kids will often give these kinds of necklaces to more than one person.  It is kind of like you are only supposed to have one best friend, but the secret is that you can have lots of best friends.  It can be flexible due to context and purpose of that friendship.  I think the important part is to let go of "the one and only" part.  It somehow makes it feel like I didn't use up my only shot.  It makes room for more.  It makes room for T~.

Once I put it all together, the dreams stopped and I have been more at ease.  It may or may not look like progress, but to me it is.  I am glad that I am not actively dwelling on that past relationship.  As a friend once told me, the ending of a relationship is like a perspective painting where the road keeps getting smaller and smaller as it meets the horizon.  That road will always be on my map, but that part of my life is near that dot in the distance.  T~ and I are together in the foreground, in the present.  I'm ready and excited about our adventure!


  1. i remember having a "best friend" in school and how hurt I was when she starting hanging out with other people. I even met a woman later in my life that I thought earned that title and she too disappointed and hurt me. I've always become cautious about using that phrase because of what it had meant to me when I was a child. I don't use it anymore, at least not feeling the same way. I think you should call your fiancee, your life partner. Cause that's what he is. He's your partner in life.

    1. I agree. Since moving on from my former relationship, I've said that I wanted a partner in life. And I've shared that with T~, too. When I think of him, I think of him more as a partner and a lover and my fiance, soon to be husband. There is friendship, but I don't call him my friend.

      I'm sorry you were hurt by that person in you childhood. People are people, and unfortunately we are bound to disappoint someone along the way, hopefully not intentionally or cruelly. I think that is why I'm not a fan of the term best friend because it puts that person on a pedestal and too easy to get knocked down. I usually I don't like being called a best friend because then I worry about screwing it up. :P

  2. I am sorry that the nightmares are plaguing you, and that August is so hard. That's completely understandable, given your past history. It's impossible to completely erase a past history though, and the hurts that do shape you and the way you look at relationships, even as you heal and find new hope in your current relationship. I was married before, and it was the opposite of your situation -- it was awful and I have to seriously wonder why I felt so unworthy as to be treated the way I was and to only leave when serial cheating was discovered, not because of the foul way I was treated and devalued. However, my husband was left abruptly, maybe in a similar way that you were shocked and left raw and questioning what happened, and so we each bring interesting baggage to our relationship. I think it's hard not to occasionally fear that you have a pattern and that the other person will somehow start showing attributes of the person who was ultimately wrong, or accidentally mistake your fiance/husband for the one who wronged you. (Sometimes I say, "um, remember who you're married to?" when it's assumed I might react the way his ex would.) People are naive to think "you only get married once." Sometimes there are growing pains. Sometimes you have to experience the wrong to get to the right. I always cringe at the "I married my best friend" piece of things, because I want a friend, but I also want a lover and a partner and all the things that are so much more than that middle-school-broken-heart-necklace "BFF."

    I'm glad that you are making progress, but don't beat yourself up if that perspective shifts every once and a while and your past looms a little larger. I'm excited for your new adventure, I'm a big fan of coming to marriage with the perspective of what it should NOT be and a more realistic, less fairy-tale perspective (that admittedly I had when I did it the first time at 24, totally blinded to reality). I don't think it's a bad thing to have been married before, although you wouldn't ever as a child be like, I can't wait for my AWESOME SECOND MARRIAGE! I think you can use that pain to your advantage, to really enjoy and appreciate what you have now, through the lens of your experience. Much love to you!

    1. Thank you, Jess, for your heartfelt response. I appreciate your support and perspective. However, I would not wish divorce for anyone. With my previous spouse, it was a surprise when he left. He had brought up wanting to renew our vows, we had just built a house and he suggested adoption when it was pretty clear early on that IVF would not be a good option for us. We were in the process of just starting beginning paperwork with an adoption company and were about to pay the first payment when he said he no longer wanted to be with me. About a month later, I found out he had been cheating on me with several women even though he initially denied it. He was way too calm and collected when he called our relationship into question. I felt so duped and stupid and hurt. It has been a lot to let go. I'm in a much better place now, and had been before I met T~. I'm sorry you had to go through what you did, as well as your current husband. But, from what have read from your blog and from your comments here, it seems there is much more love and respect in your relationship with you current husband. I agree that I try to use my past to help me be thankful for what I have with T~. It is more loving, healthy and fulfilling.

  3. I definitely think friendships, even best friendships, have ebb and flow and they change over time and circumstances. Was your ex your best friend? Maybe at one time. Obviously not once his behavior changed because a friend would never treat someone the way he did to you. Can T be your new best friend? Sure! If you want him to be. Don't let your past "failed" friendship taint the new found friendship of your future. It's kind of the same as your marriage relationship. You didn't let your past marriage defer you from ever getting married again. YOU get to hold the power. YOU get to have charge of your relationships, be they marriage or friendship (or both). It's normal for you to have apprehension about letting T in to that inner sanctum of friendship, which for many people, is stronger than marriage.

    I found a great article on why your spouse SHOULDN'T be your best friend. I found it enlightening.

  4. I agree that friendships in general ebb and flow, and that can be a good thing. Sometimes a friendship needs to breathe.

    Good article. There is room for friendship in a marriage if you want it, but your spouse should not be your everything. It is good to have things you enjoy together and things that make you, you.