Monday (April 23) my divorce became final. Coming up to the day I felt oddly unsettled even though the reality of my daily life would not be changed by this legality. Lying in bed the night before, I thought about the first night Jeff and I had spent together in early 2000. We’d met and dated thirty-five years earlier when we were fifteen and seventeen and had reconnected at the beginning of the new millennium.
That first night together I felt something as powerful as gravity- something as real as the laws of physics governing bodies in time and space- pulling me to him. Lying in bed with my head on his chest I breathed him in, savouring what felt like the scent of home. As I drifted off to sleep I woke us both by speaking out loud from beyond the threshold of dreams, saying in a voice filled with years of longing, “What took you so long to find me again?”
Feeling this memory in the cells of my body on the eve of my divorce, a sob caught in my chest, and the pain of what was hoped for and lost tugged at me like a deeply imbedded hook finally pulling free.
The next day- the day of the divorce- I decided to sell my engagement ring. I needed the money to pay some health care bills, and a friend told me about a local jeweller known to give fair prices.
Jeff gave me the ring on my forty-seventh birthday. Feeling awkward about proposing he’d tossed me the box without comment as I walked through the living room of my home. My sons, who were there at the time, later referred to it as “a drive-by proposal.” Jeff had bought the ring on e-bay. He told me what he’d paid for it and that he’d gotten a certificate of authenticity for the diamond. Not that this mattered to me at the time- I would not have even thought to ask. I was in love and thrilled with the ring that symbolized this man’s love and desire to be together for the rest of our lives. (At the time I knew nothing about the suffering caused by the industry that mines and markets diamonds.)
Ah, symbols. Sometimes they pack more punch than we realize. When I got to the jeweller’s on Monday an older man in grey trousers and a wrinkled blue shirt buzzed me into the shop. He examined the diamond carefully with an eyepiece. He asked me how much my ex had paid for it and whether or not he had a certificate of authenticity. I told him what I thought I knew. He set the eye piece down and looked at me.
“So, was his lack of truthfulness a problem throughout the marriage?” he asked, raising wiry white brows over pale eyes.
“You could say that.” I tried to keep my tone nonchalant wondering if this was a ploy to convince me to take less than the ring was worth.
He shrugged and handed the ring back to me. “I am sorry. It is a diamond.” I was guessing that there were times when he’d had to tell someone differently. “But, it’s less than half a carat, and it is of very poor quality.” He told me he doubted if he could sell it for one fifth of what Jeff had told me he’d paid for it. Again he added, “I am sorry.” He sounded like he meant it. He sounded weary.
I went to another jeweller who told me the same thing. He suggested that if I had a certificate of authenticity appraising the ring differently I might be able to get recompense for fraud. I called Jeff and asked if he still had the certificate. He told me he’d never had one. I didn’t remind him of what he’d told me when he’d given me the ring. It just didn’t matter any more.
I left my marriage because my husband lied. He lied about small things and big things. He lied when it mattered and when it didn’t. Eventually I discovered that from our first reunion conversation until we separated more than a decade later there was never a time- not even on that first night or on our wedding day- when he was not actively lying to me about something. I left because, after a decade together and years of marital counselling, I finally got that the lying was simply never going to stop.
I don't know if Jeff lied about the ring or not. It doesn't matter. The unwelcome news about the ring's commercial value was perhaps a necessary balance to the ache stirred by the memories of that first night together. Sometimes symbols reflects truths we have not fully grasped.
I am grateful and sad- grateful to no longer be in pain, sad about the loss of a dream. After two years of living alone I am no longer devastated, in anguish, or crippled with grief- and for this, I am deeply grateful. Now, when I think about the marriage- its beginnnings and its ending- I'm just sad.
Something in me- some desire to meet an imagined expectation- wants to end this story on a note that reassures us all of new dreams incubating and freedom found. But, something stronger and deeper urges me not to reach for what is next, to simply sit with the gratitude and the sadness as they arise. Neither requires a certificate of authenticity- they are simply what is in this moment.
~Oriah (c) 2012
Be impeccable with your word ~ Don Miguel Ruiz's - The Four AgreementsReplyDelete
Ive read that book a thousand times, and only in the last year or so has any of it really rang true. I'm with you Oriah <3
It's too bad that when we meet someone we are attracted to they don't come with a certificate of authenticity. If they did I would not have married my first wife and definitely would have married my second.
Of course, we then would question who does the certification.
Thank you for letting the world see you as you are, from day to day and moment to moment.
Sending you a huge Hug!!! I guess sometimes we see people, especially partners, as we would like them to be and not see them for what they truly are. We want it to work, we really do. We keepy trying and trying to make it work and overlook what's really happening. Been there, done that. I thought I only needed enough patience with my partner and he will miraculously be honest with me all of a sudden. Didn't work. Dishonesty is a bit like alcoholism, I pretended it's not there, but it was and I knew. Right from the start. I just didn't want to be honest with myself. I wanted it to work, so very much. I wanted him to be the ONE so very much. I pretended it was alright, but it wasn't. In the end I had to look and be honest with myself. Brutally honest. In an earlier one of your posts you wrote "Love and Faith are given by Grace or not at all." Let me add "Honesty is given by Grace or not at all". Lots of Love to you! xox Sabine
Oh...thank you for this post. Trust is elemental in marriage. If there isn't trust how can there be love?ReplyDelete
Leslie, well I'm not sure if this is the good news or the bad news but I do think there can be love without trust- there just can't be- for me- a shared life. The love continues but the lack of trust makes real intimacy impossible. But then, I sometimes think that is the point of lying- to ward off the intimacy that is feared.Delete
That holds the ring of truth! That we each fear what we actually want the most - true intimacy! But to reveal our innermost thoughts can be scary. Yet to do so can be the most enlightening and intensely intimate experience! Thanks for sharing this piece as I begin the path of d-i-v-o-r-c-e. No one really "divorces" anyone and the love must live on. But somehow the real-ization of freedom in the mind and heart and spirit is definitely worth the ideas of pain and loss endured.Delete
Has it really been two years already? I think back to your posts at that time versus now, and the progression illustrates so vividly the process we all go through when a relationship ends.ReplyDelete
Truth is so vital to a healthy relationship. I recognized that "lying even when he didn't need to" behavior --someone I almost married would do that. I came to see it as a sickness, really. You're so right about the fear.
Fortunately, I didn't marry him, although not because I wasn't going to. The Universe got my attention in a HUGE way, a completely unexpected and unique way, and made it very difficult for me to NOT end the relationship. I wish I'd had the strength you had, the integrity.
Thank you for this thoughtful and deep post, which made me think for a good long time tonight. Blessings...
Oriah, thanks for your gentle honesty. I relate to your story in so many ways. I was divorced 2 1/2 years ago after swirling in disillusionment for way too long. I think the hardest part was disassembling the lofty dream I had built in my mind, because it was built on the belief that I was secure in a man's love. As I took it apart piece by piece, I was careful to salvage my sense of trust and not let bitterness keep me from being open to love again. We have to discard that deception and pawn it off, freeing our hand to hold another. I pray you find one worthy of sweetness and giving nature.ReplyDelete
Blessings and love to you Oriah! And thank you -- as always -- for your incredible and intimate and courageous honesty. It's offered me (and I know so many others) a comforting, grounded shelter amidst the whirlwind of all that life can bring.ReplyDelete
This story/essay washes over me and brings back the story of me and my ex. He lied all the time. Lying for him was a part of his being. I've often wondered where that characteristic is born in a person? I saw him do it the moment I met him, it just seemed so odd, so young. I guess it is self protective, in a deep and dark way. I felt strangely sorry for him, he seemed so vulnerable to me as he lied, like he didn't know himself at all. He died 3 years after our 20 year marriage ended. The grief of those events has finally abated. I wonder what it is in me that overlooked his lying? Perhaps an indulgent mother within, a rescuing angel, a non deserving child? I'm curious what part of the brain lying is located in? Recently there was a discussion on a voice dialogue website about lying, that parts within us believe what they say and therefore truth is relative and can not be pinned down. I agree with you Oriah, about lying to ward off intimacy. Perhaps that is my dilemma too, or I would not have married a liar. I don't know. Thank you for this beautiful and intimate post. Your writing opens up questions inside me that are strong and yet gentle. A shared life. Such a lovely phrase.ReplyDelete
Alice- all great questions. I used to think, when I heard someone talk about the lies their spouse told, that on some level they must have known. I can honestly say that when the first lies cam out a year into the marriage you could have knocked me over with a feather- I had absolutely no idea. If I unconsciously knew. . . well, that's hard to determine and not of much help. I did not see it until we had been together 3 years. I do have a sense now of what it was about for me- but I leave what it is about for him, to him (not that I have not speculated plenty :-)Delete
Dear Oriah, your Invitation has been a source of inspiration for me for years. T thank you for sharing with the world, you truly are a blessing. This week’s blog about honesty, trust and the many versions of individual’s truth, appears to be key elements which we all struggle with when we seek to discover the power of “unconditional love”, especially when we have been hurt and how to use discernment while still coming from a pure space.ReplyDelete
Yvonne, not so sure about conditioned beings (ie- humans) being able to generate unconditional love. We do experience it from time to time- but it is grace, not an act of will. And yes, discernment is critical for this human journey :-)Delete
Dear Oriah, thank you for this post. It helps me - a stranger from a different part of the world - that you have been able to put into words the sad truth about the ending of your marriage. Because i find it very difficult to do so. Somehow it would have been easier to deal with my ex-husband cheating on me, than accepting that he (my lover, my best friend, my rock) has been lying to me for seven years: ever since we met. We have two small children together.ReplyDelete
Six months ago i discovered the truth. We have been divorced for two months. I have never suspected anything. Not because i chose not to see, but because he is a truly gifted lier who deceives everybody. Still today his neighbours, friends, other parents, think he is a great guy. And in some ways he is. Dealing with his complete duality has been very hard, the first months i felt like i was living in a war zone.
It becomes easier. Or maybe i'm just getting used to the idea that your best friend can be your worst enemy. I still don't know what's best for our boys, hopefully the answer will present itself, with time. I can choose to walk away from this man, my children can't choose a different father. This makes me very sad. Just like everything about my ex-husband is so very sad. He brings sadness. What kind of life is that?
Thank you again for your words, for keeping this blog.
Oh Roos, how difficult this is for you! It was not easy for me to leave and there were not children involved.Delete
I will mention one thing that a therapist said to me, months later when I told her why I left my marraige. When I told her how my husband consistently lied to me (which is not to say he never told the truth, only that there was always some lying going on) she said, "What is he addicted to?"
Now, oddly- after we split- my husband told me he was an alcoholic (something he now denies.) Apparently, whenever I was away he was binge drinking. We had had conversations about my concerns with his drinking but I had not seen half of it, nor did I realize he was an addict.
The therapist's point was simply that people who lie consistently are often addicts who have developed the habit to cover for their addiction and keep lying even when it is not related.
Not sure it is as absolute as she felt- but it was an interesting possible piece to the puzzle.
Having said that we women can spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to figure out and understand why someone does what they do- and not answering the question of whether or not we want to live with it, and what we will do (to either leave or live with it.)
Prayers for wisdom, courage and strength, Oriah
Dear Oriah, thank you for caring about my story. I've been thinking about the idea of addiction and lying being somehow connected. At the moment i believe that for my ex-husband the lying itself is the addiction. It brings him rewards that i do not see. To me there is only grief and there are only losers: himself included. But he doesn't see it that way. To him a job that doesn't exist but that sounds interesting is better than a real job that pays the bills but is a bit dreary.ReplyDelete
I do not understand my ex-husband and possibly never will. His brain doesn't seem to work like mine. I've spent months trying to follow his strange thoughts and absurd behavior (for example: after i found out he had been pretending to go to work for years, he was still urging me to come home from my job early so he could go to his - even though he and i both knew that he didn't have one.)
I agree with what you say about women always trying to understand. It is so tempting but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. It just gave me a false sense of control. The harsh truth is that my ex-husband lies, or doesn't lie, exactly as he sees fit. A strange logic is behind it and no one can make him do anything he doesn't want to do.
So for me, for now, it is time to stop understanding him and stop thinking about the extremely sensitive sad little boy he must have been (the same sensitivity that now enables him to lie so well). I just try to accept who he is. Hopefully my children will live their lives differently.
Thank you for your prayers, i received them : )
I hope you'll continue to write your lovely prose for many years.
There are these little reminders as we pass through our healing journey which bring back the memories of what was and the dreams that we had. When we have loved someone so deeply, then it takes longer than we imagine for the healing to be complete, to not feel the sadness, the disappointment, the loss of hope around the lost relationship.
My experience after the ending of an 18 year relationship (we were married 13 years) has been incredibly painful - devastating at times, and 9 years on, I still feel the effects of that loss. I was advised by a wise woman not to judge where I was in the recovery process because this only holds us back as we are not accepting of where we are. I have found this to be valuable advice, and yet wonder whether the pain will ever truly be resolved.
As ever, this part of my life is learning, and it is also seeing how much the relationship filled the gap of what was not healed from my childhood.
Sending you many blessings as you are reminded of where you are now.
Dear Ruby, sometimes I think it takes longer than we had hoped because there is so much learning there- so much mirroring of childhood wounds and the relationship's history and ending allows us to access these fundamental issues that need our attention. At least, that's what I tell myself when I am wishing for greater speed. Some relationships reflect and give us access to the work of our lifetime. :-)Delete
For me, the books by Melody Beattie about codependence gave a lot of answers regarding people with compulsive behaviours - be it addiction or lying or cheating or workaholism. And why I had such a painful tendency towards them, and how to cope with that. I'm on a better way for five years now, and I'm sure you'll find your own as well.ReplyDelete
Another question, to add to the mix, ' what qualities does this person have and hold for me?' I like that, especially when the letting go is so confusing, the not being able to let go. I fixated on one ex for so many years, did so much work to extricate him from my being, and this question did help me to take hold of the disowned energy I was projecting onto him.ReplyDelete
Another wonderful thing I heard, ( is this from you Oriah?) relationships are like trees and the longer they go, the deeper the roots that entangle under the earth together. I think that is why it can take so long to become fully internally separate. Of course, there are no formulas, we each travel through life in our own hard won learning ways.
I also think there is a great mystery at work in the human spirit, heart and there may be forces beyond our understanding that sustain connections.
My heart goes out to all of us who have suffered, and on a lighter note, my experience is that all it takes is a new love to move us swiftly on from the old one!
I really feel your suffering from the pain of betrayal and being lied.ReplyDelete
I am shocked to learn of your life circumstances. Your "Invitation" gave me inspiration and hope in my life when I was struggling. I decided to look you up now because I am looking for a quote for a friend's wedding.
Much love and hugs to you Oriah.
They said it in the movie Moulin Rouge: “Without trust, there is no love.” You trusted him for as long as you could, and when everything came crashing down, you crashed as well. The harder you love, the harder the fall. It’s a lesson that can only be learned the hard way, and I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that. I wish you luck as you begin to move on from all this.ReplyDelete
I just learned my divorce became final today - almost three years after filing. Your words, - 'I am grateful and sad'- capture this moment utterly and completely. Thank you for sharing your experience. It has helped me put this day in perspective.
I’m sorry that your marriage had to end. After the divorce, all you have to do is to continue your life and be happy. I hope that you are now recovering from emotional pain that you endured throughout the divorce.ReplyDelete