I am just a couple of days away from the one-year anniversary since leaving Pablo. Some days I feel like everything has changed and my progress is great. Other days I feel like nothing has changed and my progress is slight. On the good days I tell myself how far I’ve come and that I never thought I would be “okay” again but look at me now! On the bad days, I tell myself I have made the biggest mistake of my life. I left a man that I love deeply and broke up the family that was my life’s one true dream come true. My family will never be put back together. I will never love anyone the way that I love Pablo. My feelings tend to sway like an all or nothing pendulum and I lose sight of reality. But if I take a step back and notice my journey for what it is, the reality is that there are good days and bad days. It’s a two steps forward and one step back sort of dance. On the days when I am despairing and running backwards instead of forwards, or even instead of pausing, I lose sight of how far I’ve come. When my vision is blurred from crying and I ache from my soul to my toes, I forget to uncurl from the fetal position to look over my shoulder and notice how many miles I have walked in the right direction.
Because of the way that I love and attach, detaching from Pablo is something that has not come naturally. I replay over and over again the first time we got back together after I left. I brought Chipotle and had my own in the car, planning to eat separately when I got home. I set out the food for Pablo and the kids and he asked, “You’re not going to eat?” I replied, “I didn’t know if that was okay for me to come in and eat or not.” Pablo replied in his most nurturing voice, “Of course you can.” When I sat at that table with my family, I was back at my own table. It was like no time had passed since I had left. I was back home where I belonged. Pablo finished first and moved up to the barstool and looked at me, deep in thought. He had a fresh haircut just slightly shorter than he usually wears it. “I miss you so freaking much,” he said. At this point I broke down completely and ran into his arms. He looked down trying not to also break down, but his eyes were wet with tears. The children looked on as I sobbed in his arms and he held me tight. I really believed that we were going to beat the odds in that moment. I really believed that we had gotten through the hardest thing we would ever go through and were going to become even stronger than ever. I could see a redo of our ten-year-anniversary party on year eleven instead. I imagined us dancing to You’re Still the One and promising forever all over again. This was a fresh start. We would get it right this time. But old habits die hard and patterns repeat. While I wanted this happy ending more than any human could ever yearn for a happy ending, it just wasn’t meant to be. People assume divorce happens when a couple grows apart and falls out of love, or with infidelity. While that is true for many, that is not the way my story was written. I recently told my girlfriends on a day when I was particularly struggling, “I didn’t love Pablo any less than you guys love your husbands. Imagine leaving someone you love that much.” It’s complicated and heartbreaking but it my life story nonetheless.
Lately, I have been purposeful about detaching from Pablo. I am beginning to see that that is the only way to detach, as it won’t happen organically. When I find myself dwelling on our happiest days and torturing myself with the memory of Pablo on that barstool saying, “I miss you so freaking much,” instead of sobbing as hard as I did that day all over again, I tell myself, “It’s over.” And that is hard to hear, even from myself, even a whole year after leaving, but I have to keep saying it. As cheesy as it sounds, what has helped the most is hearing Taylor Swift sing, “Weeeeee are never ever ever getting back together!” I try not to dwell on funny memories of Pablo mocking her song You Belong with Me. He used to go on and on about how dumb that song was and then he would sing his own version of it making it up as he goes like, “She wears pants and I wear dresses she plays guitar and I play piano.” Pablo used to make me laugh harder than anyone else could. I’m sitting here on a nostalgic tangent so had to pause my typing to shout, “Alexa play Taylor Swift We are Never Getting Back Together.”
And as I do my best to purposefully detach from Pablo, I have noticed the way Noel has started to feel more and more like home. I wonder if remaining so attached to Pablo stunted the growth of my new relationship. I recently became very sick again, the diagnosis being influenza b. And no, I didn’t get my flu shot but also got influenza on the years I did get my flu shot, so don’t shame me. They never get the fucking strain right on those shots anyway. Do you know who I wanted this time when I was sick? I wanted Noel. I didn’t cry for Pablo to bring my therapflu heated too hot but just sweet enough. I wanted Noel and was not lost in transition as my feverish body lay in his lap as he read. The Are You My Mother book revisited my mind but this time I wasn’t wandering. This time I didn’t wish to find my life’s manifestation of what a mother represents. This time I didn’t ache to scurry backwards, flinching on flight mode, restlessly unsettled. This time I didn’t tell myself that my old home was still my home. This time I stayed still, soaking up the way Noel rubbed my hair with my burning head resting against his safe body. This time I didn’t need to go from my nest to the kitten, to the hen, to the dog, to the snort. This time I was already home.