Let me detail my faults before I showcase my better parts.
I am not a patient person. This is unfortunate. I am actively trying to identify deep zen moments when I become particularly impetuous about my being in the world. I cannot say that I always have a great deal of success, but I am making a real effort to improve.
I sometimes invest too deeply in relationships (and people) who do not invest in me. I hold on too long and hurt too much. It is with great regret that I admit the following: I do not know how and when to let go. I may be impatient, but I am painfully enduring when it comes to those I care for.
This is a fairly common mistake among the human race, by the way.
Yet, there are moments when I glimpse the profound goodness and value that I embody. These small truths take my breath away. It is almost like I am seeing another person — not this flawed specimen I call “myself” that haunts me on a daily basis — and I stand in awe of her.
Case in point: this past Spring, the Ex came around. Due to the complicated logistics of a blended family, I remained in the home raising his children while he worked abroad. He came home to visit and to settle the things that one must finalize when relationships end.
It is fair to say that we both had some tense moments prior to his visit, but at some point, we morphed into the real business of ending a marriage. This was the first time we were to be in the same house together since that momentous decision.
Neither of us knew what to expect. I had no idea how I would deal with his presence as someone who was no longer my spouse. I am sure he pondered this dilemma, as well.
Oddly, old habits fell back into place, despite the new nature of our post-marital relationship: I texted him to pick up certain items at the grocery store; we continued an old conversation from the past as if nothing had happened; there were other habitual routines that we fell into. The status of our relationship had changed, yet I still wanted him to be comfortable in the guest bedroom. I found myself checking to make sure I had his favorite tea in the house. There were no obligations on me to do so, but I did, regardless.
Then, there was one pivotal moment in the kitchen. He was pouring rice into a sink colander while preparing kabuli palow. I saw the heap of candied raisins and carrots at the sink’s side, ready to go into the dig for steaming. It was a scene I’d witnessed hundreds of times throughout the marriage – there were times I had cooked this particularly dish, as well, and mindlessly fell into the rhythm and cadences required to adequately prepare it.
I was in the living room when I gazed at this man who was a husband for more than a decade — the father to my son — and a man whom I left. He did not know that I was looking at him.
A that moment, a sincere thought emerged:
Oh my God, I want good things for him.
I want good things for him, even if those things do not include me.
His presence in the kitchen over the sink, doing a routine I’d seen him do many times before, permitted me to experience my own capacity for compassion and empathy. I no longer want to be married to this man, and this I knew for sure, but I still cared for him. I marveled, in fact, at how complex and rich love could be, even if no longer the romantic sort.
I had this profound realization about myself –
I am a good, good person.
I am a good, good person. This simple realization almost brought me to tears. I am not the best, most perfect person in the world, but good enough to deserve good people in my life. Of all the realizations one thinks one may encounter in post-marital dynamics — this one I never anticipated.
My faults and perceived inadequacies are my daily attire. I am working to find new garments, but such golden, insecurity-free clothes don’t come cheap. I should allow myself the luxury of trying on better threads. And, I’m not very patient. Yet, this little realization while watching my ex prepare food reminded me that I was worthy of haute couture when it came to my emotional life.
An email to to a friend really summed up my little awakening: I have glimpsed the depth of my compassion. I still care for him, if not as a husband, and the complex ways I care for people I love (in all forms) makes me realize my deep capacity for “good.” I so seldom remember this and I rarely see myself in this light. A good man will immediately recognize and honor these qualities. Because, despite all my fuck-ups, I care deeply and I am kind.