How do you move on and let go when you don’t even know what happened?
Some marriages end gradually, one day at a time, until one day it’s done. Mine was like hitting a brick wall. One day I was married happily enough, and that night I was looking through a computer full of exposed secrets.
When I left, it took me less than 24 hours to take off my engagement ring. I’ll sell it immediately, I thought, just like the rest of the belongings that remained in our family’s house. But it’s still sitting in my change purse today, tossed about with a bunch of coins. When I evacuated for a hurricane last fall, I grabbed it from my jewelry box and took it with me to a friend’s house.
What’s holding me back is the logistics of selling it. How much is it really worth? Will I look back someday and wish I had kept it? It’s the one remnant of my past life—something I can hold as proof: I used to be like you. I used to have a husband and a house and two dogs. I used to be normal.
Right before the holidays, I decided to give it up. I have a friend who works at a jewelry store at the local mall. He said he would evaluate the condition of the ring to help get me started. It had been years since I stepped foot in a shopping mall. Not knowing which way to go, I lucked out and stumbled in the right direction. This jewelry store, it turned out, was the store where my ex husband and I casually browsed engagement rings after a couple months of dating.
My friend was sharply dressed and standing behind the counter. I presented my ring as if it was a card from a hidden deck in my purse.
“What do I do with this?” I asked.
He made small talk and ushered me to the back of the store. I’m not so in-the-know when it comes to jewelry, and I’ve not once had my ring cleaned in the nearly 12 years that I’ve owned it. He said I’ve kept it in great condition somehow. (Note to ex husband: See, it did make a difference to take it off while I swam laps and shaped your hamburger meat, even though I often forgot to put it back on.)
“If you put this online, you’ll probably get offers as low as $30 or $40 from people who want to use it for scrap pieces,” said my friend. “If you bought this new in a store, it would go for between $500 and $600.”
He was giving me a range to help set expectations, but his range was way off from mine. I thought it would go for at least $1000.
“That’s a carat diamond ring,” I said, confused.
“This is a half carat at best,” he replied. He walked to a case, pulled out a full carat diamond ring, and held it next to mine.
I left the store choking back tears as I realized that even my engagement was cloaked in a lie. I told myself I’d keep the ring in case one of my kids wants to use it someday. It’s something their dad gave their mom once upon a time, which might have some value to them. But man, what I really want to know is what the hell happened in my marriage? What was real, and what wasn’t? Where’s the store for getting that assessed?
Through numerous endings—relationships, jobs, friendships—I’ve come to realize that we rarely get the concrete answers and explanations we want. What the hell happened is rarely discoverable, and even if it was, the description of what the hell happened is going to be different depending on who is looking at it. And here is where I’m stuck. How do I move on and let go when I don’t even know what the hell happened?
I don’t know the answer. All I can hang my hat on is a hint of inspiration I borrowed from a friend:
Somehow we have to release ourselves from needing to know the truth outside ourselves and instead come into honoring the truth within. That can bring about healing.