What I learned on Feb. 14th, 2011…

Not a day that will live in infamy, but a day I’d like to forget nonetheless.  It wasn’t a botched Valentine’s Day of scrambling around trying to find the perfect gift.  Nor was said gift inferior to the expectation of what a proper Valentine’s Day gift should be.  I wasn’t stood up by some new infatuation.  I certainly wasn’t crowned MVP of Valentine’s Day that year.  It was the day I realized my marriage was ending.  The St. Valentine’s Day massacre of my heart.  That day, life as I knew it, changed forever.

Two days before Valentine’s Day, we separated.  Today, actually, is five years.  Why I choose to remember this date, is beyond me.  Maybe as a reminder of the biggest failure I have ever had to overcome?  I can be quite the self-loather at times.  Maybe because it is the starting point of a life that has since risen from the ashes, not unlike the legend of the phoenix?  In reality, I couldn’t have one without the other.  I would not be the man I am today without having gone through the pain & suffering that followed that fateful Valentine’s Day.  I hate like hell that the covenant of marriage was broken by my insufficiencies and insecurities, but am reminded of the old Tennyson poem; “tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.  The love was there, but the expression (or lack thereof) solidified my place on the marriage wall of shame.  At least temporarily…

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t give up on my marriage two days after separation.  I did fight like hell to save it, but by that point, the war was pretty much over.  I had seen it heading that way months before marriage apocalypse, but my selfishness, immaturity and pent up feeling of emasculation had already enslaved my soul and it prevented me from taking the necessary steps, THEN, to salvage it.  Sure, the control freak in me thought (and tried) to do what “I” thought was best.  Turns out that was just a half-assed lunge toward redemption, and only scratched the surface of what was required to resurrect our relationship.  Plus, it was far easier, and more comfortable, to put my blinders on and hope that things would just magically work themselves out. So yes, I passed on rolling up my sleeves and doing the dirty work (internally as well as externally) needed to save our marriage…until after it was too late.  The bar had been set so low that, any action from there was akin to playing in a consolation game, pointless.  You know what they say about hindsight…

candyhearts

Since then, a lot has happened.  For one, the days surrounding Valentine’s Day do not hit me with the ferocity they once did.  I was literally forced to start life over from scratch.  Like a recently shaken etch-a-sketch that was near completion of a masterpiece, only a million times worse.  But without being cast into the pit of despair, both willfully and with help from others, what was once a shell of an emasculated man has become a more self-aware, emotionally intelligent, imperfect but striving for perfection, force to be reckoned with!  I did not always enjoy the journey to this moment, and the journey is far from over, but I do love the growth that has taken place along the way.  Because without that growth, without having uncovered the intimate knowledge of my past, I could never put myself in a position to love and be loved now or in the future.

Plus, dammit, even though I think everyone should show their significant other how you feel about them EVERYDAY, I am looking forward to spending an enjoyable, if not overblown, Valentine’s Day with an as yet unnamed special lady.  So let’s get to work cupid, I need to layer over (but not forget entirely) these profoundly emotional memories currently occupying my head space!

P.S. I have a lot to say regarding the growth I’ve experienced since my divorce…so stay tuned for future posts…