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We were just kids. Then in less than five years we went from kids to grownups to making a home and then into our careers. We traveled, we dined and we danced. We created a space that was ours and ours alone. We created our own language that no one else could understand. Elaborate secrets, rules and inside jokes requiring just a nod or a wink to the other for meaning to be clear. Most people didn’t get us. And we were fine with that. We loved each other and nothing else mattered.
We had kids. Some people didn’t think we ever would, but one day we just decided to. And we did. And then we had another one. They’re perfect. We weathered the stress and storms that come with raising babies into children. And with getting older. And with careers maturing, changing and everything else.
One thing that is certain in life: it never gets easy. Just when you get through a challenge another one pops up and it never ends until your race is run. If you try to look forward to a time when there will be no challenges or adversity and you can just relax you’re going to be in for a rude awakening because that’s not how it works. The best you can do is set up a process to deal with the unexpected. You create fortifications that you hope will withstand an attack and a battle plan that you hope will win the day. And you hope to God that you never have to use them.
I thought we had a pretty good one. She apparently didn’t. Or didn’t believe in it. When the attack came – a stealthy one that wasn’t immediately apparent – she broke formation. It was only a matter of time before the day was lost. After nearly 21 years together and 16 years of marriage, it’s all over.
The details aren’t anyone else’s business and they’re too painful to dwell on anyway. Someday I’ll have some perspective and hopefully a little wisdom about it all, but right now I can’t approach it rationally. The most I can say is that I was blindsided and that I’m hurt and that the dust is still settling.
I am lucky to have close friends and family and they have been indispensable for me in this time. I mentioned before about how life never stops throwing stuff at you. But at the same time, it’s an amazing and wonderful thing that, at the exact moment you think things are about to become dark and hopeless, you’re reminded that – if you’ve set things up properly – you always have reinforcements. I guess I set things up properly, because I have had no shortage of support from those close to me.
But most important is that my battle plan was adaptable, even if I didn’t realize it before now. And my objective is crystal clear. My children will never want for love or happiness and even though this will inevitably change their lives, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it is just change and nothing more. A new reality that, while not what was expected, will not harm them. And thankfully enough of the old battle plan is still readable and communication is sufficient that she and I agree on this. And as far as I can tell, her plan, for whatever the hell else it might entail, will also be centered around making life wonderful for the kids.
For me personally: it will take some time to recover, but I have no plans to pack it in. That stuff about “crisis” and “opportunity” being the same word in Chinese is apocryphal, but the sentiment is a valid one. You can pause to consult the map and you can change your course as circumstances dictate, but you can never stop moving. You can’t break. Ever.
I have a great job that brings me joy. I have a fabulous family and good friends. I’m also smart, witty and – if I may say so – I’m a goddamn handsome man. Things are hard at the moment and there will be many more ups, downs, false resolutions and false starts, but I look forward to forging my future.
And I know it’s a bright one.