Unconscious Choices and Lessons in Loss

His rigid, expression stared down at the paper in front of him as his signature fluidly made its way into each blank space where it was needed. The unfamiliar scent of his heavy cologne wafted into my nostrils as niceties were traded and small talk was thankfully avoided. Any amount of pleasantries probably would have triggered my inevitable anger. David and I hadn’t seen each other in almost a year and I’m pretty certain I can speak for both of us when I state that this wasn’t exactly a meet up either of us were looking forward to.

The fifteen-minute exchange was all business this past Saturday morning at a valley Coffee Bean as I informed David on the status of our divorce while obtaining his signature in all of the necessary places. Eye contact was easily kept to the bare minimum what with the numerous pages of legal paperwork on the table in front of us. As he filled in all of his information, I found myself willfully introspecting.

Here was this person in front of me, whom I had once been in love with, whom I had married and planned on spending the rest of my life with and now who was, essentially, a complete stranger. I pondered the possibility that maybe there was still a part of that David in there just as maybe there was still a part of the Lindsay he once loved in me. Perhaps the most interesting part of it all is the complete lack of love I feel for him now, that even though I was assessing these things, it wasn’t because I was hoping to somehow feel that again, but simply because human behavior, the psyche, the heart and the mind all intrigue me on such a profound level. I am constantly wondering what, why, when, where and how.

And just to keep things completely honest, I may not be in love with David nor do I even love him anymore but I am compassionate. I feel my own and others’ emotions so deeply that I couldn’t possibly pretend I didn’t spend three plus years of my life with this human being. It was absolutely fascinating to me that after years of good and bad experiences, joys, struggles, tragedies – life – that once significant relationship can straightforwardly be deduced to fifteen swift minutes of a Spring morning at a chain coffee shop. Fascinating – and rather, sad.

Furthermore, what was of particular interest to me was that the life-changing and recent realization I came to did not cross my mind while sitting mere inches away from David until after we had departed ways. Just a few short weeks ago, I had what I deem, for lack of better terms, a breakthrough during the course of my weekly therapy. It was brought to my unexpected attention that I unconsciously chose David because I was going to need someone, a grand distraction, from the tragic loss that would soon beget my existence. Dealing with the manic ups and downs of my relationship and “taking care” of someone else allowed me no time to face the overwhelming grief of losing my mother.

As this understanding came to fruition, I began to laugh, and not just a mere chuckle, I was cracking up. The unfathomable sense of it all moved me to extreme humor. It reminded me of a conversation between David and I after the decision was made to end our marriage. He attempted to degrade our matrimony by unconvincingly stating, “I married you because I thought it was the right thing to do, the next step.” I knew this wasn’t true but had I known then what I know now, I probably would have responded with, “Well, I only chose you because your fucked-up-ness was a colossal, necessary distraction from the death of my mother.” Sounds revengeful and cruel when I put it like that but it truly has been one of the most liberating realizations to date and it has allowed me to place David in his proper place of my past.

All of that aside, I infer that the above doesn’t negate the fact that I did love him and I sincerely cared. I think that’s where my head was while I anxiously sat across from him this past Saturday, contemplating all the loss and all that has changed for the better, feeling an impenetrable sense of compassion, primarily for myself. As my therapist noted after my ‘breakthrough,’ “Grief isn’t easy, Lindsay, and sometimes, I don’t think we give you enough credit.”

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