This is Day 21 of a 21-day effort to see the good in what might, at first, look like an irredeemable drag. Its name comes from a classic bit of dialogue uttered by actor Kevin Bacon in a classic film of my generation, Animal House.
Everyone knows that the phrase "painless breakup" is an oxymoron. Any two people who are truly together are going to have a rough time of it when the together part ends.
But some splits, let's face it, are rougher than others. Maybe because you don't see them coming. Maybe because the passion is still there. Maybe, god help you, because of both of these happening at the same time.
The spring of my horrible breakup ushered in the summer of my unhappiness and the fall (and winter) of my big illness. It was not a banner year. And yet, I would not hesitate to call it the best, most significant year of my life. It was the year that changed me: that illness, and how I dealt with it. That breakup, and how we both dealt with it.
You see, up until then, there had been lip service about remaining friends with exes, but really, that's all it was. A polite fiction. The friendship that arose from the ashes of this wreckage took years to form (with a good, long break between the end and the beginning), but it is the friendship I am most proud of. I have had longer friendships, and even closer friendships, but I had never had a friendship I had to approach like religion: utterly faith-based.
Like the Crohn's, which has taught me so many good things like tolerance and kindness and the value of slowness and simplicity, this breakup and subsequent friendship taught me that anything was possible, given two people with the right attitudes and enough time. It laid a foundation for all kinds of impossible things: a breakup without rancor. A previously unimaginable friendship with my ex-husband. An inner flexibility I've never, ever experienced. The possibility of change, true change.
I do not know who reads this blog, beyond the people who come out from the shadows and tell me. But I do know this: there is nothing anyone has done to me that I would not forgive them for, were they truly sorry. I had a conversation with one person to this effect some three-odd years ago. At the time, it took a great deal of effort (and, I'll be honest, blind faith) to say it, but I meant it: the door is always open. Step through it, and together, we will work out how to move forward from there.
And should you choose not to step through it, that's is fine, too. Who am I to say what is right for you? We are our own keepers. Surely, I made choices that have left others scratching their heads. Surely, other people have moved on from things I have done which were painful, and have extended me grace I don't even know. (Thank you for that. And I know, I know, quit calling you "Shirley.")
Thank you, one and all, for being my teachers, no matter what the lesson or the method.
What a lot I have to be grateful for. What a lot, indeed.