Every now and again my ring finger feels naked. I absentmindedly reach for my wedding band with my thumb, as I’ve done probably thousands of times before, and realize that it’s no longer there. That symbol of eternity, as the priest described it over 12 years ago, now sits in my overnight bag, tucked unceremoniously under the bathroom sink.
What led to this life change is complicated and, yet, simple. While I’m not inclined to air my laundry in such a public forum, I am at peace with the decision. For too long I gave and, in my mind, received little. Or, at least, not enough. I’m not sure if blame is to be cast – it just is. And while I am mindful that the person I will no longer be married to will always, and hopefully, be in my life as we continue to parent our beautiful children, I am also mindful that my life can be mine again.
Again, this is not to place blame. Blame implies anger and resentment and that’s something that I don’t have. Not anymore. Sometimes I feel a melancholy sadness that mostly percolates to the surface when a childhood milestone is missed as the family we once knew – but I am also filled with hope for the future and a sense of peace that the decision is the right one.
And as I look at the faces of my children, I hope they will one day understand that this decision was made, in part, because I want something better for them. I want them to learn what a healthy, strong relationship looks like and I feared they wouldn’t learn that with the status quo. Perhaps they can see what two loving parents can do for their children – even if it’s done in two separate households.
As for me, my life feels at ease for the first time in a long time. The irony is that there are many reasons to feel differently but I feel, for the first time in a long time, a sense of optimism that I thought had died long ago. I know who I want to be. I know what I want for myself. I know that I can take the lessons I learned from my marriage and apply it to my next relationship. I am a work in progress but the final chapter hasn’t been written. In fact, this middle chapter might be the defining time of my life – as a father, lover, friend.
Here’s to the next journey. One where the symbol of eternity won’t be a ring of precious metal but a resolve to give and receive and love and be loved.