Sometimes knowing Bill is in a nursing home and I am out here in the world fills me with guilt and a sad affect. It can feel unbearable. I'm not sure if it is feeling guilty or feeling like I need to protect him. I've always done that. I've always been the fixer and I have always viewed marriage as a sacred vow to my Grandma Keller. She sat me down many times to tell me how special I was and to talk to me about picking my future husband. Choose a good man because forever is a long, long time was the message I heard from all my close family members. And I wanted that more than anything. We were a family of belly-wrenching laughter, of guitar sessions in the bedrooms, of entire groups of family singing around the piano. We were the Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family, and the Scooby Doo kids all in one. Thank God it was that way. Thank God. I would live happily ever after or die trying. I nearly have succeeded in the latter more than once, I am sorry to say.
Our marriage wasn't a bad marriage. It was merely crowded, I believe is how Princess Diana put it when referring to Camilla. He had a lover for many years. Many years. I don't know if there was anyone else before I had cancer, and I can honestly say our marriage ended, if somewhat briefly, right after our two year battle with chemo and radiation. It was an event that would have taken a champion boxer down in two rounds. He left after the doctors determined me in remission. He was gone for ten days. He came home and I took him back with open arms, so grateful for another chance. We healed; well, mostly healed, and we had Jack two years later.
They met when our son was four, and were a couple until three years ago. I fought and actually left on four occasions. I loved Bill, and was easily swayed to try again, that things were over, and so forth. After so many years I guess I became numb to it. I confronted it when the evidence was blatant, knowing in my heart it would never be over. Still, I stuck to my vows, wearing them now like a ball and chain. Ahhh, hindsight. I stuck with it, for better and for worse. Til Death Do You Part...I've heard it said that we can be our worst enemies. We, in essence as human beings make our own traps. My trap was I was being one of those girls that believed in happily ever after.
I stuck with it and stuck with it until it was too late. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and now I am stuck in a sense. In another sense I am free. I am free of the past couple of years and the domestic violence we experienced in our home. He has no memory that he divorced me to stay out of the nursing home. It has taken me over a year since Bill entered the nursing home, but I honestly feel I am healing from all of this past. I have been able to face and balance a hate and near bitterness with a peace that this part of my life is over.
I have reached a level of forgiveness for Bill. It's helped me with my grief and in helping me be a better person. I can now look at the 15 year relationship with his mistress from a distance. I realize I had the power to stop all the pain many years ago. I just couldn't. I wanted my happily ever after and I loved my husband.
This past has made my healing process both difficult and easier. I look at my husband today and almost forget all of the negative things we endured. He is fragile and sad and lonely. I sometimes feel an undying need to be at his side, to protect and heal as I have always done.
Lately, Bill has forgotten it was me he was talking to many times. He started reminiscing about his times spent with Diana, talking about things they have done together, feelings unresolved, and. He asked me once if I "thought that was why Lyn put (me) in here (nursing home). It had almost killed her." It did indeed.
I decided to contact his lover about a month ago. It was time for me to put the past behind me, to relinquish control and the attempt to protect my own heart, and to allow him to resolve any lose ends or unresolved feelings in their life together. So I emailed, telling her where he is and why he dropped out of her life so suddenly. I knew they loved each other deeply to remain together after all these years. For the first time, it did not matter any more to me. It was behind me.
And she did visit him, shortly after that. Staff said he didn't appear to have any acknowledgement or seem to remember her. He told them he thought she might have been an army buddy? Of course words are greatly jumbled when he speaks. I feel at peace because I gave him and her the opportunity to close any lose ends the may have in their relationship. I did it because I am free now and they can't hurt me any more. I'm by far not a hero. .... it seemed the humane thing to do. And I am free. Free to continue to love, to live, to look back without sadness. My freedom is not in terms of an ugly, angry divorce but in being healed. My heart sings again.