Yesterday brought to an end a few weeks of built up anxiety that, to be honest, started a few years ago if I really think about it. My beautiful niece recently graduated from high school in May and she invited me to her party which took place last night. For most people, this wouldn’t be an issue, but in my case it’s a little different. You see, I don’t have any biological nieces or nephews, but, thanks to my ex-husband, I have one of each. My niece, nephew, and I have kept in touch, as have their parents (my ex-brother-in-law), since my divorce, so it was very important for me to be there. What I’ve been trying to prepare myself for is seeing my ex-husband, his wife, their daughter, and his parents. That’s exactly what happened last night.
I felt pretty confident going in that I at least looked nice, which was a major concern. I had on a nice flowing black sleeveless blouse, jeans, and to top it all off, red peep-toe sling-back patent leather pumps. I was a little more overdressed, but I was meeting some friends later so it was justified. My hair had cooperated, so I was very appreciative for that as well.
Upon entering, the first person I saw was my ex. He was talking with his best friend (he got that couple in the divorce) and, as I walked closer, his wife was approaching him looking for their daughter. My reaction to everything so far surprised me. I was fine.
I was all smiles as I approached their group and simply said hi and walked past them towards my nephew. I saw my ex-mother- and father-in-law and stopped over to say hello. He didn’t say much, which wasn’t unlike him. She and I chatted for a few minutes and it was very cordial. She commented that my hair had gotten long. I told her how sorry I was to hear about her best friend’s passing. (I know, not the place to bring it up, but I wanted her to know I had been thinking about them.) She soon made an excuse to leave, and I walked around making my way from one group to the next.
I thought it would be difficult to walk in alone, but I’ve realized I’ve made it through a lot on my own over the years, so it was a bit empowering. I was quickly realizing that I didn’t have any emotional connection with the majority of people there but rather only those who mattered. I actually enjoyed myself which also came as a surprise.
When my niece was about 8 or 9, we started a tradition of getting matching bling rings for Christmas every year. I was raised Jewish, so it was more of just an annual thing in my eyes. A few years back, I’d decided that I wanted to get her a real ring for her when she graduated, so that’s what I did. In keeping with tradition though, I got us matching rings with one exception. The rings I chose were simple and a bit dainty, but each of our rings contained our own birthstone. This time they were the same but slightly different. I made sure she opened her gift before I left as my ring was in the box with hers. As soon as she saw the box she got excited as she knew what it most likely held. Her reaction was what I’d hoped, and we each placed our rings on our fingers. She gave me a hug and thanked me. I was so glad that I was able to do that for her.
I got to thinking about the ring and the symbolism in the fact that it’s a circle. I really do feel like I’ve come full circle since my divorce. This visit with my ex and his family brought me some much-needed closure. I said my good-byes and left to go join my friends for a fun night out. I realize I may never see them again, although there are always weddings or college graduations to celebrate. I now know I will approach any future encounters without anxiety or concern, as those who truly matter in my life will always make the effort to keep me in theirs.