It was during that ATTACHMENT PHASE that I came to realize just how little I had truly known my EX when we first got married. I know that sounds weird. It's just that, as years passed, the depth of our friendship plus my love and attraction to him expanded in ways I never thought imaginable. I felt as if I had grown to know his true character, his persona and his ego; having equal love and compassion for each. I remember staring at him, soaking him in and feeling so lucky. He made me feel loved, cherished, respected, admired, appreciated, and desirable. And I equally loved who he was as a man, husband and friend. We had created such a strong bond that, life without my EX, seemed inconceivable. He was my family, a part of me... we were attached at the hip.
But I guess I shouldn't have taken that ATTACHMENT PHASE for granted. Just because we had created a life together and felt intensely connected, didn't mean we were automatically exempt from growing apart. I don't know what possessed me into thinking our relationship would be so invincible. Perhaps the fact that, prior to getting married, we agreed that were adamantly opposed to divorce as an option. In fact, divorce seemed like an unthinkable cop-out to us. We were also adamant about fidelity. Cheating was unacceptable and even preventable as far as we were concerned. And, based on our sex life at the time, we were pretty confident that the easiest part of the marriage equation would be sustaining our lusty passion for one another. Any warnings about marriage ending the sex lives of happy couples seemed inapplicable. Yet, we weren't totally and completely naive to the challenges of marriage. We definitely recognized how serious a lifetime commitment would be and that success meant beating the 50/50 odds against us. That's why open and honest communication at all times was non-negotiable; no matter how difficult the subject. We figured that communication would be the best defense against marital break-down or, God forbid, break-up. When I think back to the day we did break-up, I remember sitting on opposite sides of the living room, staring at the same wall, unable to look at each other. The emotional distance in his voice echoed throughout my entire body and my heart ached. I was completely incredulous, thinking "This isn't my life. This can't be my life. Things like this just don't happen to me!". I was waiting for the nightmare to be over and to hear the words "Just kidding!" followed by laughter. It would've been the most evil prank ever, but survivable. I didn't know how I was gonna survive un-attachment.
But a couple of years after breaking up and feeling significantly less attached to my EX due to time and separation, I could finally admit that we did, in fact, allow ourselves to grow apart and do the unthinkable: cop-out! For so long, the fact that we "grew apart" was a far more painful truth to admit than the stigma of divorce. It meant that we had gotten complacent, took one another for granted and stopped paying attention. It was also a painfully rude awakening to realize that my EX had fallen out of love to the extent that he wanted out of our relationship. However, as time and sexual sobriety granted me greater clarity, an honest self-examination process began. I started questioning whether or not I was even still "in-love" with my EX at the time of our break-up. Or was I just sticking it out due to a sense of obligation or fear of being un-attatched? Was my marriage still a priority to me? I knew I loved him more deeply than I had ever loved anyone. And that I'd never felt this close to anyone before or allowed myself so much emotional vulnerability. But at the same time, I could admit that something was missing. Yet, I felt in my gut that, whatever "it" was, we'd get it back. I absolutely treasured our relationship and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with my EX. Every relationship experiences highs and lows and I believed in the strength of our love and the resilience of our relationship. Evidently he didn't share my faith. So this... this "growing apart" to the extent of divorce felt worse than the death of my best friend. He was still alive, but wanted to sever our attachment completely. I was no longer good enough, desirable enough, fun enough, interesting enough, whatever enough... I just wasn't enough. Not only that, but, I was no longer worth the effort. I was no longer worthy of the respect of open and honest communication. I was no longer worthy of fidelity.
In the growing clarity of my sexually sober hindsight, I also started to realize that our break-up wasn't quite as insidious as it had felt at the time. And as painful as it was, I realized that it was perhaps my greatest salvation. Because when I'm honest with myself (and I mean truly honest), all the "little" things... those damn red flags I overlooked during the heat of our LUST PHASE... well, they started to manifest big time during our ATTACHMENT PHASE! Oh, how they reared their ugly heads ever so powerfully when things like career and finances challenged our ability to manage stress; individually and as a couple. I remember precisely how it felt to have those "little things" chip away at our egos and our friendship and erode our desire. I even remember him telling me that I didn't look at him in the same way anymore. He was right. I didn't. Perhaps the red flags were too hard for me to bear for a lifetime.
In the end, I believe it was our lack of personal strength that caused us to fail ourselves and fail each other. Nevertheless, I still believe that my EX was one of my greatest soul mates ever and that we were destined to be together; at least for a time. We were meant to experience that journey from lust to friendship and attachment. But we weren't meant to be together forever. Our relationship was our opportunity to learn more about who we are and what we want, need and expect out of life and relationships in order to feel abundant. It was our opportunity to discover more about who we are as lovers, friends and partners and to grow into better versions of ourselves. And although I was still in incredible amounts of emotional pain and trying to heal from my severe case of single-itis; I was even more determined to pay attention to the lessons of our relationship and create my best life ever!