Monday 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 anymore.
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 reflect 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 beginnings 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.
(This article is the second of a three-part series by Oriah, exploring the anguish, reflection upon and recovery from a marital breakup. The first piece, A Year After Separation, can be found here.)
Oriah is the author of the international best-selling books: The Invitation, and The Dance, and The Call (published by HarperONE, translated into eighteen languages.) Her much loved poem “The Invitation” has been shared around the world. Trained in a shamanic tradition, her medicine name Mountain Dreamer means one who likes to find and push the edge. Using story, poetry and shamanic ceremony Oriah’s deeply personal writing and her work as a group facilitator and spiritual mentor explore how to follow the thread of our heart’s longing into a life where we can choose joy without denying the challenges of a human life. Oriah blogs at www.oriahsinvitation.blogspot.com and participates in conversations at https://www.facebook.com/
Oriah.Mountain.Dreamer . For more info- http://www.oriah.org
Editor: Lori Lothian
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