To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Lonely in Bali and my first stalker

“In solitude there is healing. Speak to your soul. Listen to your heart. Sometimes in the absence of noise we find the answers.” - Author unknown because I wrote the name down incorrectly and don’t remember where I read this quote. 

This evening, May 7, 2014, at dinner, I had a devastating pang of longing for love, or even companionship; someone to talk to and share my experiences in Bali with, someone to bear witness to my life. It has happened to me several times on this trip. I fight back the tears and work to challenge and change my thought process. I tell myself to be grateful for what I do have; this wonderful and amazing experience. I remind myself that I do have friends back home that miss me. I remind myself that I have a great son. 

I get quite jealous sometimes of couples I see. Not always, usually I enjoy seeing two people together who are obviously in love or partnered up. It reminds me to be hopeful that I will experience love again. I typically take joy in seeing others in love, happy, content and connected in their intimacy. When I am feeling really lonely or sorry for myself though, I am not as magnanimous.  

And then the Universe reminded me to be careful what I wish for via a local named Roger. First, he approached my table at the beach front restaurant asking for a light for his cigarette. Then he sat down at my table, uninvited, after asking me if I was alone. He wanted to try one of my cigarettes, and then he attempted to sell me a tour. When my food came he left me alone to eat, but as soon as my food was cleared from my table, there was Roger again, promptly sitting himself back down at my table. I find the local Muslim men on Gili Trawangan, like Roger, much more aggressive than the Balinese. They will instantly ask you for your name, where you are staying, and where your husband is. I have never been asked so many times in my life, over a three day period, where my husband was. I am sure that is contributing to my feelings of loneliness, this constant reminder that I do not have a husband anymore, or even a travel companion. Roger wanted to know what I was doing after dinner, and being my usual Canadian self I told him I was going to get a pedicure. He then proceeded to walk me to his friends spa, where he was thanked for bringing me, by name. It was only once I had been handed over to the staff that he left, saying he would see me tomorrow.  

After a lovely and inspiring chat with Amy during our pedicure’s, an American born Parisian contemplating her life at 41, I returned to my bungalow where I was joined at a table in the outdoor eating area by the pool by one of the young staff at the resort. He wanted to know why I was there alone, where was my husband? I don’t know if it was the language barrier, his Muslim beliefs, or his young age, but he really seemed to struggle with the concept of separation or divorce. He said, “Maybe you come back with your husband?” I smiled and said maybe, but shortly thereafter the tears starting pushing their way out of my eyes and I had to return to the still darkness of my room to ride out my grief. Even typing this out a month later is bringing about a fresh round of tears. There is no husband to bring back to Bali. That time, and those memories, are mine alone, forever and ever. 

In the morning, while I ate my breakfast, there was Roger again, as promised. I felt shocked and stalked when I heard my name being called, and I looked up to see the hard selling man about the Island on his bike at the front of the resort. To picture the resort, it is very small, the back to front being only a few hundred feet deep, and maybe a hundred feet wide? Where I was sitting in the outdoor eating area was only about 25 feet from the dirt pathway. Roger came into the dining space and sat himself down again. I looked at the staff to see if they were going to chase him out. Nope. I realized I would have to deal with this intrusion alone. I told Roger that I was not going to purchase a tour from him and I would like to be left alone to eat my breakfast. He said whatever he said, and left. The next day I saw Roger again; this time I was walking the main “street," the only “street” on the Island, and he said hi and waved. I returned the greeting in kind, and was relieved that I was not followed. 

There is a cost to every beautiful and peaceful moment I experience in Indonesia. The yin and the yang of life will appear amidst the luscious smells and the overwhelming beauty here. The reminder that this month long journey to let go and heal is being funded by a divorced. That my ex-husband so wanted to be free of me that he gives me just over half of his salary every two weeks; his offer. That my ex-husband so needed to be released from his life with me that he is offering to leave my pension alone, while offering me 24% of his; again, his offer. He seems willing to pay any price to have me go away, which allows me to travel, alone, on his dime. 

These are sporadic painful reminders to me of the real purpose of this trip; I am not just here to vacation and sightsee. I am not just in Bali to shop and play tourist, or have a fling with a local. I am hear for growth, painful growth, and change. I am here to embrace my single life, which undoubtably requires me to fully relinquish the old me, the idea that I was someone's wife. I am here to do the hard work of having a months worth of dinners in public alone, dealing with aggressive men, answering tough questions about why I am alone, and problem solving money issues alone. I am in Bali to embrace my re-awakening sexuality as a single female. I am away from home and its comforts for a month to be brave and try new things that will broaden my horizons and increase my self-esteem. I am in a foreign land to push my boundaries and step out of my comfort zones. I am here to stretch, explore and nurture my burgeoning spirituality. I am here to be challenged by a different culture and language. I am on this adventure to surprise myself with my strength. I am here to be inspired by the opportunities my divorce is affording me. 

In short, I am in Bali for a month to make peace with my story; to embrace it and to own it.  As I approach the one year anniversary of the disclosure and request for an open marriage, I want to finish grieving and mourning my losses, and transition into a positive lifestyle of loving myself, following my bliss, being wholehearted and vulnerable, being kind and supportive to others, and continuing to take the steps of following my path; walking my authentic path. I have come to Bali to dig deep, find the grief in the deepest reaches of my heart, and drag it out so that I can leave it behind on Indonesian soil.  

It pains me in a way I have no words to capture, the agony of my ex-husband wanting to have nothing to do with me. I am unaware of any words in the English language that capture the way my heart physically constricts and the tears instantly well up when I think of the distance between us. The knowledge that someone is out there choosing to live their life without me has proven to be possibly more significant than the loss of the marriage itself. I thought for 12 years that we were best friends and soul-mates; now he won’t speak to me. The knowledge that one day one of us will die, and the other won’t know, is somehow much more significant to me than the betrayal, sexual rejection, or loss of the marriage. I am still struggling to wrap my head around his choice to walk away and cut off all contact with me. I did the best I could to remain open to contact, to be as kind and understanding as I could muster about his choices, and as generally neutral as possible, but nothing worked. He told me to stop calling; so I stopped. He hasn’t called me since. 

On April 24, 2014, my second full day in Bali, feeling blissful and heavenly, I got my ex-husbands number from our son. I was ready for him to have my phone number and I told him so. I felt comfortable that it would no longer freak me out if his name popped up on my screen, nor would I hope that every beep of my phone was an incoming text from him. I texted M, introducing the unknown phone number, and told him where I was, and that I had thought of him twice the day before. In the morning, I was grateful that he had ended our marriage and I felt incredibly blessed to be in Bali and knew I would not have come alone for a month if we had stayed together. I told him that I had also shed a few tears for him because when the missing him hits, it feels like I stop living for a moment. I told him that I asked the Universe to bless him, which I continue to do and had been doing for some time. I told M that he would forever be a part of my story and that I wished him love and light. I ended with “hugs” and used his nickname for me. 

His response came within an hour: 

“Becca, I don’t know what to say to you right now except thank you. Thank you for being part of me and my life. Thank you for all that you have done for me. And thank you for continuing to care about me as we go our separate ways. I wish you happiness, love and joy as you find your path through life. Now and always.” 

He is still pushing me away in the nicest way he possibly can. The portion of the sentence “as we go our separate ways” makes my nose burn across the bridge as tears are manufactured. 

When I get home from this trip it will be just shy of a year. I will become eligible for a divorce a few weeks later. We have both done our best to remain amicable and agreeable, and should that hold, it will be a paper divorce, so there will be no court date or seeing him ever again. I am told it could still take a few months from the filing of the paperwork. And then one day I am going to get an email, or a phone call, letting me know that I am divorced. Again. I have not made peace with that yet, not even close, but I hope to in the coming months. I know accepting my failure at something that meant so much to me will come, in time. 

I have been home from Bali now for just over two weeks as I type out my handwritten journal entry. I got to a very different place in Bali, or I came to see and understand myself, through my interactions with others, differently. I know I am no longer in love with my ex, nor am I in any danger of taking him back if he asked. I do not want an intimate relationship with M. That being said, I am utterly confused by my emotional reactions and where I do find myself. None of the books I have read, research I have done, therapy sessions or TED talks have prepared me for the cold hard truth of my recent and current emotions: I am deeply saddened by the rejection of me as a person, and the friendship I have offered. I am having a difficult time accepting my place as a ghost in this world; someone invisible to him. It looks and feels like he hates me, but logically, there is no reason for him to hate me? My current negative emotions about the end of my marriage are very selfish and self-centred. It isn’t about M anymore, it’s about me. 

The first photo is the stunning beach on the Island of Gili Trawangan. The second is the main "street" of the Island. And the third is during my last week on Bali, when I was so proud of myself for becoming comfortable riding on the back of a scooter, having learned to ride/drive a scooter myself a few days earlier on the Island of Nusa Penida. 

Some partnered reading: 

A young woman’s month alone hiking: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Can men and women be “just friends?”

For an article that really hit home as my divorce is coming closer and closer:

Can you be friends with your ex?

Moving on:

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