My relationship to and with my ex-husband has changed significantly in the past few months. It's hard to explain or articulate, but our lives and our ways of relating to one another have shifted. For a long time, we were distant. We didn't speak unless it was necessary. I avoided interacting with him. I was angry with him. His actions, words and seemingly just his being on earth annoyed me somehow.
In January, things began to change. He came over one night and we talked for awhile. We were both hesitant. I'm not certain how much of it I really heard. We were physically affectionate with one another. It felt somehow familiar and comforting, but also somehow terrifying. It seemed like I was opening up Pandora's box.
Since that day, we've been friendlier. And quite honestly it's been a relief not to feel so angry all the time with him. He seems to be trying harder to do what needs to be done with regards to our children, or perhaps it's that I'm taking his actions less personally. Regardless.
Last night, as we were talking late into the night, we began to argue. Not in a hostile way, but in a somewhat heated way. When our discussions turn to the demise of our marriage, my ex-husband tries to do what I would call "apologize, while somehow minimizing his behavior." In other words, "I know what I did was wrong, but a lot of people have done worse things." Or "You know I'm sorry, but everyone makes mistakes." I began to argue with him. Not that he wasn't sorry but that he wanted what I cannot give. He wants me to say that we can reconcile. That our marriage is something we can save, even now, after 18 months of being legally divorced.
Of course, I cannot say this. While I'm no longer angry with him for his infidelity, I will never trust that he can be faithful. I'm not certain he's capable of it. I really think that at some point he learned to lie and deceive with such ease, that it is somehow second nature to him. And I can't live that way. I can't spend my life worried about what my husband is doing or not doing everyday.
Early on in our relationship, I told him that the dealbreaker for me would be an affair. That I could handle almost anything else that came to us. Anger, fighting, passive/aggressive-ness, a sick child, financial disagreements, societal pressure, our race differences...all of these things I could survive with him. But, for me, once he chose to seek affection from another woman, and then subsequently hide the relationship from me...the trust I had for him, the belief that he could somehow behave differently...it is gone.
What it seems he wants from me is complete absolution. That not only do I forgive him (which I finally do), but that I desire to enter back into a loving relationship with him. If I'm honest, I wish I could do just this. Not just for my children, but for me, too. I loved this man like no other. He was my first wild, crazy love. I loved him deeply and completely. His physical presence still feels a bit like coming home to me. The loss of him as my friend and lover has been devastating to me. But, still...I cannot give him what he desires. No matter how hard I have tried to move past the...past...I cannot believe he has changed or learned from this entire experience. In fact, I know he has not changed. The fact that he is in my home, seeking affection from me, while going home to another woman, tells me precisely what I know deep in my heart. He is not able to be true. It is not who he is or can be. If I choose to enter back into relationship with him, he will continue to behave as he has in the past...he will have affairs, and he will lie to me. And I simply cannot live that way. I finally value myself enough to refuse to be subjected to that kind of abuse. And if I'm really honest, my heart still hurts so badly from his betrayal. While my anger is gone, and I forgive him, I still ache with the pain of the loss of my innocence, my trust in this man.
So here we find ourselves. Him unable to understand why I cannot give him the one thing he so desires. And me, finally unwilling to live the life I lived for 12 years, unwilling to sacrifice my heart for the man I desire more than anyone else. All of it saddens me. I'm overwhelmed at his loss and my own. There are moments in all of this that I wonder if I will ever feel whole without him, healed from the wounds. I wish for my own absolution, I suppose. Not just forgiveness for my own mistakes, but to finally be restored to myself.