This is my third attempt at writing this blog. I’ve had it in my head for a few days now and can’t seem to get it out successfully or in a way that I’m happy with. So here is goes…third times the charm? Possibly…
Several years ago I was in a really bad place mentally, emotionally and any other place I could be except…a good place. I was at the beginning of the end of a marriage that was continually being disrespected but yet I continued to look for a way to fix it and keep it together. I’m not sure if I thought he was capable of changing, or if I was, or if I was staying where my children needed me to be. My children have since grown up. Two of the three are now University age, and the third is a very mature 12 year old who is very aware of what is happening in his world.
At the same time as I was trying to process what was going on in my life, a friend of mine was also struggling in his marriage. We’d never talked about our relationships and we both assumed the other was committed to their marriage. Neither of us being cheaters, managed to maintain a friendship where we engaged, through text, periodically to reach out, say “Hi” once in awhile, and stay semi-connected. If I was going to be in the city where him and his wife lived I would text them both and request a dinner together or a drink or a coffee meeting. It was all very innocent and at arms length except for when we greeted each other with a hug. When we were all together, I saw that he loved his wife…and I loved her just as much as a friend, watching them together made me envy their marriage.
Three years ago B and I both had to evacuate from a city that was burning. It was a strange and scary few days. When I ran into him later that week, he looked exhausted and like he could use a little human contact so…I offered him a hug. As it turned out that sixty second hug, ended up being the best hug that I’ve ever had and more comfort, I think, for me than him. It awakened something in me that I had been missing. If I could have stayed in his arms with my head tucked into his neck and resting on his shoulder, from that point on, for the rest of my life…I probably would have. He made me feel safe in a way that I hadn’t in years. Shockingly enough, I barely knew him at that point but yet he was the one who made me feel safe. We talked about what had transpired for both of us over the course of the few days before and then right before we said “Good-bye” I told him I was going to hug him one more time. He opened his arms and accepted it. He didn’t know it but that hug gave me strength and carried me.
It was August of last year that I finally made the decision to leave my marriage but it took me until November to tell my husband that I really wanted to separate. I had asked him in October why were we still together? I wasn’t happy and he didn’t seem happy either but I guess being unhappy together was better than being alone?? I don’t know. In the middle of October I went to visit my son and daughter at their schools and made a point of connecting with B, saying…Lets have coffee or breakfast or have a drink? Him and his wife had separated earlier that year so in the spirit of our friendship I wanted to see that he was okay. B could text me that he was okay but until I could actually see him and gage his body language, I wouldn’t know if he was really okay. He attempted to dodge me but I wasn’t having it this time and made him commit to having dinner with the kids and I. I said I was cooking both my son and daughters favourite dinners and he agreed to come but I fully expected him to cancel or just not show up.
10pm the night before the dinner
B: Hey..I’m bringing Leanne with me for dinner tomorrow night, she wants to meet you and she’s coming with me.
10:30…30 minutes later
B: She’s coming with me but not with me, with me. If that’s okay.
10:50…20 mins later
I finally check my phone and begin to scratch my head. I responded with…
Absolutely! I’d love to meet her and have her join us for the evening. I’m really looking forward to it.
And then I started to wonder what his text was really trying to say. He was bringing her with him but she wasn’t with him…with him. It took me a little bit but then I texted him back to ask him if he was trying to tell me that she wasn’t his girlfriend. I told him that even if she was, I wasn’t going to judge but I would be happy for him if she was someone he wanted to spend time with and it made him happy.
Day of the dinner we exchanged several fun engaging texts while I got things ready for that evening. I really didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if Leanne was someone he wanted to spend time with or if she was just a friend. I also wasn’t sure how I felt. I had a pang of envy for this new woman he may have been potentially starting a new relationship with. I wasn’t free to start anything or give him any hope that there could be something between him and I. For all I knew, all he felt for me was friendship and I’d have to be okay with that. He was free…I was not.
Dinner with B and Leanne, turned out to be a really great evening. The food was edible, the company was lots of fun and the conversation was engaging. Leanne was the kind of woman that B might be attracted to, they seemed to have a really nice friendship. Everything was going well, and then B was suddenly done, had to leave and was getting his shoes on. I assumed it had to do with possibly the last time we’d had dinner together, he was still with his wife and he was hit with a bunch of feelings all at once. At the door, and seeing his obvious distress, I opened my arms to him and he welcomed my hug. I held him tight, kissed his cheek and told him I was glad they came. He returned the kiss on the cheek, held on tighter a second longer and then let go. Looked at me one last time, stuttered a little over the goodbyes as I closed the door and then…the evening was done.
The next couple of days went by quickly, I met B’s ex-wife for dinner and visited with her. I was still really hoping for a reconciliation for them, I felt they still belonged together and that they could work out whatever had happened but after talking with Joanne, I knew that my decision to end my marriage was a good one; I didn’t want to wake up 15 years from now, with even more regret and wonder why I stayed. I talked to her vaguely about what had gone on in my marriage, she sat in disbelief as she listened to what I had been through. I think I was trying to make her see that if I could make my marriage work after all the shit I’d been through, that whatever happened between her and B they could make their marriage work too. She said no. They were both moving on.
I left Joanne and attempted to get B to meet me for a coffee or a glass of wine as I was leaving in the morning, but he didn’t respond. He was back to shutting me out. I wanted to tell him I knew how he was feeling, I wanted to tell him to his face that he was an important person in my life, I wanted to tell him he was lovable, I suddenly wanted to tell him everything I’d been going through since our first hug. He needed to know that he held value in my life but he wasn’t in a space where he was able to accept what I was offering him and at that point I didn’t really know what I was offering or could offer him. Hope..for both of us..maybe?
Over the course of the next few weeks, I reached out to B a little more often. Checking in to make sure he was in good cheer. He never really told me how he was doing but I would update him on trivial things in my day to day life..like the early snow we were getting that fall, that I was out for a run and dying incase he cared..just anything that might pick up his day or make him smile. I finally decided that since he wouldn’t meet me, face to face, that I would send him an email telling him why his hugs were important to me. It took awhile for me to get the courage to ask for his personal email and send it..I didn’t know what his response would be. In depth, I attempted to tell him that I had struggled throughout the last few years but the turning point came when we’d shared our first hug and although it was supposed to be for his benefit it ended up being for mine. I think it was awhile before he responded with an “I don’t know what to say”. I told him I wasn’t looking for a response, I just wanted him to know I was going through a similar hurt and would be a friend if he wanted someone to listen. I cared.
Hugs are powerful when they happen, especially if they feel sincere. Since B’s first hug..powerful and strong..I’ve started hugging the same way…if I’m hugging someone who means something to me. B’s first hug was extremely memorable; I’ll never forget it. It’s now a hug that I don’t ever want to live without.
A hug should be comparable to that first handshake at a job interview..strong and memorable so you get the job.