Thursday, August 4, 2011

Honoring a Marriage That is Over

Nine years ago today, I got married.  I took marriage very seriously, and I certainly never intended for it to ever end.  As a child of divorce myself, it was vitally important to me that I make the commitment of marriage only if I was 100% sure.

Obviously, things didn't work out the way I'd intended.

Mental illness and alcoholism brought on by stress and long-suppressed memories changed the man that I married--and he was a good man--into an unrecognizable monster.

There are two people in every marriage, and there are two people that contribute to the destruction of one.  I have a boatload of faults, and I do not pretend to have been the perfect wife.  I wish that my ex-husband could have communicated his concerns to me before reaching for the bottle.  I wish that with all my heart, because we had a really good marriage for a very long time.

I will never be sorry that I was married to Pythagorus.  Ever. (And we had an extremely unpleasant phone conversation last night that falls under "bullying" and "verbal assault" as defined by my school and by pretty much anyone with a clear mind, so these words carry greater weight today, as far as I'm concerned, than they would have yesterday at this time)

The most obvious reason that I don't regret my marriage is obviously Belle, a magical, funny, beautiful, intelligent miracle of a child.

But there is a lot more.

The man I married had a wonderful sense of humor.  We spent hours laughing together, sharing stories from our days, discussing current events that crossed into bizarre territory, and finding entertainment everywhere we went.

He was unfailingly kind.  He would give the shirt off his back to a stranger, and I completely mean that.  I watched him, over the course of our marriage, offer assistance to human beings of every age and walk of life, and he did it without expecting anything in return.  I can't remember him ever raising his voice--much less his hand--to me for the lion's share of the years we dated and were married.

Pythagorus was a master at finding random adventures.  We would get into the car and just drive, talking the whole time, and ending up in many different and unexpected locations.  It's a rare person that can find excitement in the seemingly mundane, and Pythagorus was a genius at this.

Pythagorus unquestionably made me a better person.  I was at a very low point in my life when I met him, and his positive attitude and appreciation for things like sunsets on a mountain or flying a kite on a windy day dissipated the bitter, cynical attitude I had adopted toward life.  Many of the good parts of who I am today are because of the love, support, and patience that Pythagorus gave to me.

I do not trust easily, and there were things I never told Pythagorus about my past (in retrospect, I'm relieved, because he's turned into the kind of jerk that would find a way to use some of these things against me), but I did fully believe in him and completely trusted that he would always be there for me just as I intended to always be there for him.

My husband, for all intents and purposes, died several years ago.  It's only recently that I've fully realized that, and I still grieve for him.  I loved him very much, and I still miss him.

However, the man with Pythagorus' face today, the bitter and cynical and mistrustful liar that has taken over his body, is not that man.

Which makes it even worse.

When somebody that you love passes away, the pain is enormous.  Death is the ultimate closure, in a way, because you have to forge ahead with life and figure out a way to live without a loved one.  You can look back fondly, can visit a cemetery, can appreciate the difference someone made in your life and honor that person through words and deeds.

I lost my stepdad and my grandfather, both great men in terms of their families and of the larger world, within a few years of each other.  I loved them both very much, and I miss them every day.  Their legacies live on, though, through memories and stories shared at family events and, yes, through those of us they left behind.      

It is impossible to honor the Pythagorus that exists today.  There is nothing--not one single thing--noble or fine about him.

The fact that he was once a great man makes the cruelty of not being able to honor who he used to be even more difficult.  The face I once loved is still in the world, spitting out lies, bullying, manipulating, endangering the lives of other people, and thriving on mind games.

It makes it difficult to even mourn the man who was my husband, and that just breaks my heart.

But I can still honor our marriage, and so that is what I do today.