I realized something the other day.
I no longer remember my ex husband.
Not in any real way.
For a long time, when people asked me what I had loved about him, I could tap into the old feelings and describe the relationship we had (at least from my perspective). With the retelling came the feelings. I felt the love again, not towards him now, but towards who he used to be to me.
I could recite a list of what I had loved, sure.
But it would really be a list. Memorized lines, any emotion borrowed or manufactured.
When I try to remember loving him, I draw a blank. I can recall moments together, picture the scene, even tell you what was said, but I can’t occupy myself in those playbacks. I am always an objective observer. A omniscient narrator with the knowledge of what was happening in the bigger picture.
I see us in the last embrace, standing before the prohibited items sign at the security line at Hartsfield Jackson airport. I can feel his breath on my ear as he whispered, “You’ll be back before you know it.” I can still remember the kiss, no kisses, that morning that ranged from sweet to passionate. I remember that I used to feel secure in his arms and that my respiration would immediately slow.
I can picture that scene perfectly. Yet now when I try to slide into the me of then, feel what she was feeling – anxiety and excitement about seeing my dad again, an ache about leaving my husband, all while trying to mentally rehearse the security procedures, I get stuck. My brain, or maybe it’s my heart, stutters.
Because when he held me that day, he must have been performing some mental rehearsal of his own. He had only a few short days to pack up his life and slip out through the back door. When he held me that day, reassuring me that we would be reunited soon, he knew that he would never see me again. When he held me that day, he really was saying goodbye.
And that damned narrator tags along with any recollection of the past, always reinterpreting and explaining the action occurring off screen, not allowing me to simply feel the moment.
My memory files are corrupt, damaged by the way the marriage ended and the time spent processing its end.
Some may say that’s a good thing, a sign of moving on.
Maybe it is.
But I don’t like it.
I want those sixteen years of life to be able to exist for me. Not in some sterile slideshow way, as they do now, but in a way where I can remember, really remember the times I felt love and loved. I want to remember that woman I used to be, not only the one who was blindly trusting. I used to love him so acutely and now I don’t even know what that felt like. I can remember the pain, but not the pleasure.
It’s like a second loss.
The mourning after.
I mourned the loss of the marriage long ago.
And now I mourn the loss of the memory of the marriage.
Those years truly buried.
And left for dead.
And now I’m enjoying my afterlife.