A few days ago, I had a conversation with my ex-husband about the value of words spoken. He had ended another of his relationships, and for the first time since we split up several years ago, he found himself living on his own, without a girlfriend to keep him company.
Anyone who has read about how messy our break up was will understand my hesitance to be involved with his life at all. He, on the other hand, thought we could still hang out and be best friends based on how long we had been happily married. Now that I had gained some of my emotional stability back and appear to be as sane as I’ll ever be, I guess it was easy for him to forget how much he had once loathed being around the weepy, sad me back then, or how hard I took this heartbreak. and how long I struggled to let go. Unfortunately, I still remember it well enough to know better.
I don’t know what it is about this person, but a part of me never stops wanting good things for him. While how I feel about him has changed forever, a part of me remains firmly grounded in the hope that he will not suffer needlessly. Knowing his extremely extroverted nature, I obliged him by visiting his new house a few times while he was moving in and here or there when I can handle it. I have no desire to be there, but the thought of him being alone and sad, surrounded by a past that will haunt him if he lets it, really bothers me.
During the times I have been there, he would show me the pictures of me, of us and our children, families, friends…. all of which he had filled up the walls with. Bits and pieces of a life together were everywhere I looked… in every corner, on every wall, in every cabinet, and on every shelf. That was hard to see. I don’t know how it doesn’t make him sad to live in this monument to a wrecked past.
As uncomfortable as it is to see our old things in this shrine he is building, that is not what keeps me from wanting to be there. No. What drives me away is his words and remembering how valuable they had once been to me.
He would say all the things I so desperately wanted to hear him say back when I first found out about his affair. Things like how a day never went by that he didn’t miss me, our friendship, my laugh, our children. He would recount different times we’d been happy together, a tear slipping from his sad eyes. He would run down in detail each woman he had tried to make a life with since me, brutally showing how little he considered them worth, and how I am the woman to which all women in his life would always be measured by. He would insist each break-up was a direct result of his inability to stop loving me and wanting me to come back to him. In other words, he was spinning a story for me with his words, but I had found letters written to other women, seen texts I was never supposed to see, and each one of them a painful lesson I had learned back then to how worthless his words really were.
And that is when it occurred to me, words hold a certain amount of value in a relationship. In fact, you could say, like the US Department of Treasury, a relationship also has a Treasury of sorts that holds in it the value of words spoken between the two of you. Over the 20 years together, that Treasury in my heart had carried enough gold to cover his words. Trust, security, love, and hope had backed up his treasury notes to me — his words.