The rear view mirror on my car fell off four weeks ago.
I didn’t think much of it, and dismissed the mirror’s unfortunate demise as a random twist of fate and yet another thing I would have to add to my to-do list.
At first, it felt uncomfortable, not being able to see what was behind me unless I deliberately cranked my neck or used the side mirrors, but after a few days I had completely adapted.
Without my rear view mirror constantly feeding me glimpses of angry drivers or the swirling traffic behind me, I noticed my drives were much more peaceful. Not being one to dismiss symbolism and fate, I wondered how liberating it would be if my own rear view mirror suddenly disappeared, if I could only look forward into the future without the echos of the past to weigh it down.
So, every day, while driving I used the empty square patch of glue as a reminder to think about the future only. It was more challenging than I expected, to force negative past experiences and memories from creeping up on thoughts of the future or even the day ahead.
And then on one of my drives John called me from a gas station in Los Angeles. He had driven the entire way in just five days. He took the trip to clear his head and to find answers.
“I’m trying to forget about us, to move on, but I can’t. And I don’t want to. I want this to work, I want both of you and I want us to work. So, there it is. I’m putting it all on the table.”
This wasn’t new, he had been asking me if we could work on things ever since our split on Christmas Eve, but this time his tone had changed. He had discovered on this trip and over the last three months, that relationships even with all of their stresses, can be beautiful, beautiful things when you have each other and when you have commitment, love and trust.
Fortified in my deep defense mechanism, I had been telling him this entire time, “No, absolutely not,” and on one occassion remember saying, “Hell would have to freeze over before I would even consider it.”
It was bad People, I was absolutely closed off to the possibility and being completely swayed by the opinions of a few friends and relatives. I had no idea what I wanted anymore but I knew that every night, in every quiet moment I found there was an emptiness. I missed him. I missed our friendship. I missed our love. And it was impossible to imagine rebuilding something that unique with someone else.
When you boiled it down, the only flaw in John and I’s relationship was our communication, our ability to work through issues without John reacting by wanting to flee and without me reacting to his urge to flee by shutting all of the doors and then broadcasting our fights to the world (here) and to my friends and family.
John and I have no drug issues, lying issues, cheating issues or even name calling issues. What we have are growth issues or adaptation issues to each other’s environments.
But then there is that fear, “What if he leaves again?”
And my answer to that fear is this – he never really left. I pushed him out and he went, but neither one of us ever really left each other. We were still communicating the entire time and we couldn’t even attempt to date other people.
We needed the break, we needed to both re-center ourselves and recover from this past year of external career related stresses. Those stresses, by the way, are easing up. John has escaped from what was an incredibly intense and stressful work environment and my business is settling down and much more stable than it was over the past year and a half.
“So, what do you think?” John asked. He was parked at a gas station in Los Angeles. I had been uncharacteriscally quiet.
“I think we should go out on a date when you get back.”
“Really? You do?”
“Yes, I think it would be fun. We should talk. I am ready to talk.”
A few weeks later when John and I picked Benjamin up from school, he jumped into his car seat leaned his head back and just started smiling. And then the laughter came, this giddy incredibly awesome laughter.
Then we all started laughing for no reason other than the fact that we were all together again, as if the past three months were already a distant memory, in the past where they belonged. Necessary to reach this moment, but not necessary to live in this moment.
True happiness is only possible when you have felt true sorrow. The trick is letting the sorrow go so you can make way for all of that happiness waiting to take over, to shove it aside.
There are no plans for John to move back in, and the wedding is indefinitely off the table. This way, we feel, we can focus on us and on re-building a relationship in an environment that has significantly less stress or pressure.
So, there it is. John Bear is back, but he never really left anyway.