In four days it will have been a year since my wedding day. While it is still technically my first wedding anniversary, there will not be a second. The divorce will be final before the end of this calendar year. It represents “the end” that I wrote about in my last post. However, as was alluded to in a comment to that post and as I elaborated in my own comment following it, every end is also a beginning; and so it is with this one. And while part of my path is a continuation of the educational goal I am already in the midst of, the recent turn of events has radically altered how that road will be traveled. This “end” also represents a radical new beginning for my future ex-wife. Although this reality is obviously not how either of us envisioned it, the fact remains that if we did not love each other we would not have married. Love is a necessary component, but no matter how strong it is, love alone is not enough. It can, however, be very convincing.
Break-ups are difficult under the best of circumstances. Ours has seen the entire range of emotions. We have finally settled into a civil relationship that will, I sincerely hope, continue to evolve as a friendship. Accepting that we must walk separate paths has been a difficult process that is finally settling in. I can look back and second guess myself; say if only this or that had been different, if only I had done or not done this or she had done or not done that, but in the end I can no more change the past than I could see into the future. Shit happened and from here on all either of us can do is pick ourselves up and move forward. It is a new beginning.
Hers is her story, but she is doing the things she needs to do. She has in some ways taken a step back to reestablish herself, but in other, perhaps more important ways, she has made huge strides and is discovering the person I fell in love with, that kind spirit that I know lives in her heart. She is about to embark on a new phase and I not only wish her well, I am sure she will discover in herself what I and many others already see. It sometimes takes a major disruption in life to spur one to new heights… some call it a “bottom.” There are many varieties and I have experienced my fair share, but it could just as easily be called “the end.”
Circling back around to this post’s theme, ends are also beginnings. I started my doctoral program at LSU two years ago. While this coming fall semester does not come with the trepidation that my first semester did, there are a number of factors that make my return to Baton Rouge new. First and foremost, this “return” is semi-permanent. For the past two years I have maintained my residency in California and viewed my school/work in Louisiana more as a long-distance commute. Even though I had what was euphemistically called an “apartment,” it was never home. When I go back, I will be moving into a house in a quiet residential neighborhood a lot like the one I currently have in California. With my house in California rented out, Baton Rouge will be my only home. I will live there – and only there – for the next two years. Furthermore, even though I will be a third year Ph.D. student, the coming semester will be the last of my coursework. In the spring I will be taking my qualifying exams and from there on, I will be writing my dissertation. All new. And the beginning to another end, which will be yet another new beginning.
I do not know what the future holds. If I did, things, lots of things, would be much different. Maybe this marriage would have worked out. Maybe we never would have been married in the first place. Maybe my first marriage more than 25 years ago would have worked out. Maybe we would never have married. The fact is that through the things I have done I have become who I am. The mistakes I have made have made me into a better version of me – and know this, there is still a lot of room for improvement. These cycles in life, these endings and beginnings, the bottoms I have hit and the process of climbing out of them, all of it is the stuff of life. I certainly have not made it easy on myself, but I don’t know that it could have been any other way. While I regret those instances where my difficulties, my pain, my growth has negatively affected those I love, I don’t regret my own pain that I have experienced throughout my trials. Each represents a new beginning.