The fact that my EX (yes, my EX-husband) breezed in and out of the city recently and we enjoyed conversation over lunch seems almost inconsequential. It's only real relevance was the fact that it validated my possession of a fully healed and optimally functioning heart that is open to loving and being loved. Closure complete. It's crazy how, even in person, I felt absolutely nothing for him. Neither negative nor positive. Only weird flashbacks to a time when we used to sit across the table gazing deeply into each other's eyes with a love that seemed to penetrate as far deeply as past lifetimes. But that day, a surface gaze was sufficient. My former curiosity and yearning for greater depth was gone. I do care about his happiness and well-being, though. And I'll probably always feel a strangely detached connection to him. But my own happiness, success and sense of worth is no longer entwined with his. The yoke has been broken.
While catching up on family, old friends and artistic goals he randomly interjected statements like "Your body looks great!" or "Your hair looks great!" or "You haven't aged a bit in the twelve years I've known you!". These weren't flirtatious come-ons, though. They were more like silent (yet accurate, mind you) observations that accidentally became verbal, like tourette syndrome. Unfortunately, I couldn't reciprocate or I'd be lying. He may be living the free-spirited, emotionally independent life he craved, but his spirit felt far from free and seemed to bear the emotional scars of shame, guilt and chronic unhappiness. It was bizarre to notice his eyes welling up with tears just as I began experiencing viscerally disruptive flashbacks of our relationship. It felt as if eight years of memories intrusively and restlessly wriggled their way through my bloodstream. "Isn't it surreal that we used to be married?", I blurted out. He remained silent and teary eyed. In that moment, my mind simply couldn't rationalize the fact that the man across the table once lovingly bore the title of "my husband" or that I used to have an insatiable sexual appetite for him. Or that I once considered this virtual stranger my soul mate and still bear his name because it was my intention to spend the rest of my life with him. At the time, assuming his name felt more like an honor than mere custom. Unfortunately, since he put the kibosh on our "happily ever after" I've just been too lazy to legally reclaim my maiden name. But, I was damn sure to make that definitive switch on Facebook! As I continued looking into his watery eyes, I noticed that my heart felt completely devoid of feelings and my body felt no lingering attraction to him. That lack of emotion or chemistry felt entirely incongruous with my old memories as a happily married couple. "We" were no longer and it didn't hurt anymore. At all.
I wasn't the only one that had moved on emotionally. Our dog-child, Brooklyn, had absolutely no memory of him whatsoever. The last time either of us had seen him was 3 1/2 years ago when he surrendered her into my custody to pursue a yearlong gig in Europe. While he was expecting a reunion filled with frenetic excitement and an onslaught of kisses making up for years of lost time, he got the opposite. Once "daddy's little girl" and his pride and joy, she timidly approached him as she would any other stranger and quickly ran back into the safety of my arms. She was mommy's little girl now. "I lost her." he said, crushed. Yes, Brooklyn had long forgotten her daily trips to Van Nuys dog park with him, their motorcycle rides to Venice Beach or his loving patience while teaching her to doggy paddle despite her skittishness in water. My EX was now like an outsider. Brooklyn and I, on the other hand, had bonded in his absence and thoroughly adapted to the constant changes we've endured over the last few years as a result of his selfish choices. We've happily recreated our lives together as an indomitable team and have found unconditional love and stability in each other.
Days after our Italian lunch in Brooklyn, I got an e-mail from my EX admitting the reasons behind his suppressed tears. He admitted to still loving me and missing our once happy family of three despite the immense pain he caused. Plus, how incredibly emotional it was for him to be confronted with the reality that Brooklyn and I had clearly moved on with our lives and no longer looked at him with the same love, respect or adoration that we used to. Nor did we need him.
So for my EX, it was a tearful reunion. For me, it marked the beginning of a greater love in store.