One effect I notice quite a bit these days is the return of memories from 30 years ago. Simple things like going to the store for something trigger memories of shopping trips from back when I was in college, or around the time I was dating, but they are always memories of doing these things alone.
It’s not as if I never went shopping alone when we were together, but somehow, I was thinking differently then. I was always doing things for us, not just me. I never realized it at the time, but apparently there was something different about me. Now I’m back on my own.
I’m not the same person I was before we were together. The intervening years are still there, nothing’s lost. But I’m not the same person I was two months ago, either. A huge part of me is missing, and I have to stitch myself back together. In the process, my mind is going back and finding pieces everywhere across my life, all at once. It’s a very odd feeling, to be connected to your life simultaneously. Maybe this is related to that “life flashing before your eyes” thing people who are in life threatening situations feel.
Here, at least, I think it’s serving a purpose. Before we were together, I lived on my own for several years. It took a while, but eventually I got settled into a life on my own. When we met, we were both quite explicitly not looking for a relationship. I knew things had gotten serious when I realized I was bouncing every important decision off her, even before we were engaged. My thought processes had changed.
Now I have to go back to making those decisions without my closest confidant, the other half of my brain. Conversations with her have to be replaced with internal conversations in my head, so in that sense, it is like going backwards. No wonder they tell the newly widowed not to make any major decisions in the first year. We have to learn how to make decisions all over again.
For thirty years I’ve been part of us. Going forward, I have to learn how to be just me again. There’s no going back to being the guy I used to be, and it’s not something I’d want to do anyway. I just have to pick up a few pieces I left behind that are needed once again.