What’s Left of Her

If you share a child with someone, it doesn’t matter what happens between the two of you… Together, not together, great, terrible, it doesn’t matter… The offspring you share with each other will never stop reminding you of them. Kids are the two of you existing in one body (or several).

These days, whenever I look at my daughter, I see more of her mother than myself. And the more I see her mother in her face, the more I am reminded of who her mother used to be.

I used to work with a guy who was married for 24 years (or was it 22?), and of course one day I asked him why it ended in divorce after lasting so long. In short, his answer was that his wife started to become unrecognizable. She changed for the worse. He said that his friends and family saw this change happening long before he did, and some even encouraged him to leave her first.

When I think back at who my ex-wife was when we fell in love, it’s a very similar situation as my former coworker. She’s not the same person anymore, she’s much worse. She herself admitted outright that the person she was when we fell in love is dead. That kind of confirms it…

But that person is not dead, because I see that person in our daughter. Our daughter is her own person, of course, but whenever I have our daughter with me, I see so much of the good person her mother used to be.

This subject also makes me think about who I used to be when I was younger. I tell people I changed, but in a lot of ways, I didn’t. My ex-wife’s own relatives have pointed this out to me, including some members I don’t talk to anymore. A lot of my ex-wife’s own relatives have said they have ‘seen’ that carefree child I used to be, even though they never knew me when I was a child. One of them looked at me dead in the eyes one day (for some reason [it’s kind of what she does with everybody]), and said, “I know you can be weird and playful, so do that more often.”

Frankly, I still don’t know when she saw that side of me, because that side of me only comes out around certain people. Regardless, my point is that the person I used to be, as a child, is still very much there. That part of me didn’t die, it had to step aside. Because that part of me is very emotionally fragile, and overly generous, and far too optimistic. None of those are good survival traits. But I do feel safe to free my spirit when I’m around my closest loved ones.

Thinking about this subject, I’ve also wondered if my ex-wife is in the same boat. No, I really doubt it. I can’t imagine a situation where she could be humble again (yes, she used to be humble), and I can’t imagine a situation where she puts her partner before herself. I’m sure she can still laugh, I’m sure she can still have fun… Even I can let my guard down sometimes, and I’m someone who’s known for overthinking (hence the title of this blog). But I can’t imagine a situation where she lets her guard down, either.

She thinks she has to be hard and serious. And maybe she did have to, for a time, but she doesn’t anymore. I used to believe the same thing – that I needed to be hard and serious just to survive – until I realized it’s not about attitude, it’s about understanding. For example, when other kids used to make me feel bad by insulting me, or not playing with me, I thought I needed to ‘not care’ in order for it to not hurt me. And I thought this way through my teenage years, too. But what I eventually learned is that I wouldn’t have a good time with these people anyway, I shouldn’t want them in my life anyway, etc. I didn’t need to be hard, I just needed to understand some things.

But my ex-wife is a weak person. She doesn’t adapt, parts of her truly die. I used to think that applied to me. I even wrote a post about it many months ago. That is true for a lot of people, but it turned out not to be true for me, so I deleted that post. No part of me died, parts of me simply wait for the right opportunities to emerge, instead of being out in the open at all times.

If I encounter a woman as wonderful as who my ex-wife used to be, I will embrace it 100%. I will let my guard down. She can have all of me and more.

That is if (strong ‘if’) I find someone as amazing as the person my ex-wife used to be. Whoever inhabits that body now … it’s not that amazing woman I fell in love with. But I am happy that person still lives, in part, in our daughter.