the erroneous comment I wish I never heard about

“I overheard her say that she doesn’t love you anymore at the dinner table”

“Wait…what?”

“Yeah, I don’t know who she was saying it to, I caught it at the last second but she said it.”

I felt like I had just tripped over a wasp’s nest but I kept my composure as the words set in.

I was having a glass of wine with my mom’s boyfriend. He was telling me about the dinner he had the previous day with my mom, my ex-wife and my oldest daughter on Mother’s Day. They had all gotten together at the restaurant my son works. It was an impromptu get together. My mom and Dave went down to MA to decorate the family stones with flowers and my ex-wife had called her to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. When they realized they were in the same state for once they made dinner plans. I didn’t even know about it until they got home that night. Mom told me all about it. The next night, that would be the time of this writing, it was just Dave and I for a while. I had just asked him of his account of the dinner, particularly because it was the first time he had met my ex-wife and oldest daughter. He had all good things to say and I was feeling good about it. Until he said that line about my ex-wife’s comment. Two questions came to mind; why did she say this and why do I care?

He continued talking as we watched the Red Sox play the A’s. I became noticeably quiet. Eventually, he asked me if he had crossed a line by telling me. I assured him that it was fine, I was just taken aback. While I was unsure why he mentioned it, it wasn’t done out of harm or malice. In fact, he probably mentioned it because it resonated with him after being in a terrible marriage himself. The pressing question remained. Why is this bothering me?

I truly don’t understand why I am having such trouble with this. I was married to this woman for 22 years and for the last 12 I would have chewed my arm off to escape her. There were times when I actually felt that I hated her. Towards the end, we de-escalated into a tolerant phase where we put up with each other but there was no love. Eventually, there was clearly no desire to even try to recapture what drew us together in the first place. When we separated I was relieved. When she asked for a divorce I was ready. When the divorce was finalized I felt liberated. So why am I surprised to hear, second-hand mind you, that she doesn’t love me anymore? It could easily have been said in the vein of “We still care about each other but aren’t in love anymore” as she explained to my mother, or my daughter, or the fucking waiter…again why does this bother me? Do I still even love her?

I do love her. I’m just not in love with her. I love her because we raised four wonderful children together. I love her because I spent most of my adult life with her and there were some good times. I can’t deny them.

I have dreams, vivid dreams of her. I dream of conversations in which she reveals past infidelities. I have dreamt of being with her, in the present, still married and talking about how we “almost split up.” Sadly, I even dreamt that I had died and she wasn’t at my funeral. These dreams are so lucid, so vivid that Freud and Jung could come back from the grave and revive their careers. When I wake from them I find myself wishing she was in my life. Then I shake it off and remind myself that I really don’t want what we had any longer. Still, I am wrought with these conflicting emotions.

I am burdened by memories, racked with guilt, saddled with regrets. A mere matter of months ago I was bitter, angry and resentful of her. Lately, I look back at photos in which we were all smiles. I find myself asking where it went wrong. I find myself asking if I could have done better by her. I remember how much she once loved me and I ask myself if I drove her away, caused her to morph into the cold, detached person that she was in the end. Did I, in the course of exorcising my demons and finding my real self, push her away?

I asked my mother last night if she had heard the comment at dinner. She said she had. It was said to one of my son’s friends who works at the same restaurant. He had come over to the table and asked my wife where I was. She had told him that we were divorced and he was surprised. So, she explained it. She cares about me, but she doesn’t love me anymore.

There you go, I have my explanation. For the comment at least. I still don’t know for the life of me why the explanation stings so badly.

10 thoughts on “the erroneous comment I wish I never heard about”

  1. I had a good friend some years back that became a toxic friend. When I realized I couldn’t keep her around in that capacity I began to avoid her and ignore her texts and invitations. After a while, she got sick of that and ditched me on social media. I was hurt. I did everything I could to get that friend to give up on me and, when she did, I was the hurt one? I couldn’t make sense of that for the longest time. I still can’t, entirely. And that’s nothing compared to what you’re talking about.

    Of course there will be confusion. Despite the unhappy ending you still have all those happy memories, all the images of “better” times. The times you laughed together. Your line “I remember how much she once loved me” is heartbreaking, because there was a time. And it’s nice to be loved that much, that completely, even if it was by someone we don’t particularly like anymore.

    Beautiful, touching piece, brother. I understand. Even when I don’t. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t get it, but I do get it, if that makes any sense.

    Maybe, since she put you through such hell, and you’ve been feeling like shit for a while, it’s because you’d love to hear her admit she made the worst mistake of her life by leaving you. I could get behind that! Instead, the off the cuff comment was perhaps more salt in an old wound. It’s like kicking someone when they are already down.

    But really Superman, do you want that albatross back in your life?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Feelings are so confusing; they can really fuck with you. I remember attempting to be friends with my first husband and him telling me that it wasn’t possible because his new wife wouldn’t allow it. I remember it making me sad and angry and I couldn’t understand why; we had been apart for a while and had both moved on and I understood that he was respecting his wife’s feelings, but still… perhaps nothing is every as solidified as we think, nothing ever as black and white as we may sometimes hope. Thank you for writing so openly, so deeply.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your reactions is understandable.
    You were bitter, angry and resentful when together since you stopped loving each other. Now that it’s over, you feel empty. She did constitute a big part of your life after all. I think this is how our brain works. With time, you’ll probably forget what your marriage turned into, remembering only the good stuff. And that IS good. It will mean you’re letting go of the past and your bitterness and are ready to move on. For real.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think it’s the last thing that breaks. It hurts because we’re communal creatures; our safety and security lie in being a member of a community of people with similar needs and purposes. I know – a dream, but nevertheless … it hurts to let the final strand go.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It does sting Bill, when I heard my ex was dating it hurt, but only because I think it may have been jealousy. Then she re-married and I felt more like sending him a sympathy card, I was well and truly over it by then. As it has turned out the poor man suffers as I did.

    Liked by 1 person

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