Thank You for Treating Me Like Shit (No, Really….)

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.

My dead grandfather is in my garden. Again.

Working Through Grief

But where else would he be? No one he loved/loves still lives on the farm under the old oaks where he spent the bulk of his 90 years as an entrepreneur and individualist. He was resourceful and had a hot mind, but such is the life of an Aquarius, even one born over 100 years ago. Maybe that’s why I have a fondness for Aquarian men. But for some reason, he’s decided my house is the place to hang out, maybe because it’s full of love and ideas and a fondness for earth, just like on his farm in Georgia. He’s found a way to communicate with me through spirit boards and certain friends. And sometimes, he talks directly to me and I hear him.

Like today. I’ve been planting flowers at my front door. Purple and coral/peach. I have the blisters to prove it, but there’s something about playing in the dirt that soothes my frazzles. I first realized this several years ago when I spent six weeks in the Intensive Care Unit with my dad’s open heart surgery. When I returned to my home, I spent five hours a day for the next two weeks, just planting flowers and pouring my jagged emotions into Mother Earth. It was the best therapy I could have hoped for.

But it isn’t therapy that brings me to my garden today. It’s the length of time since I’ve spent much time here, here in the dirt, rejuvenating and regenerating. In the Spring of 2003, I was too distraught over my marriage woes and too apathetic on anti-depressants to plant a single bloom. And in the Spring of 2004, I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep my marriage or my house, so there was no desire to spend my limited time in the garden. But now in the Spring of 2005, I’m replanting my gardens, both the literal and proverbial ones. And it feels good to pull weeds and plant and just think and heal.

Except that my ex is suddenly on my mind. He has a new girlfriend, and in looking at patterns, my kids tell me she’s very sweet, with physical similarities to me when my ex and I first met, and she likes the same kinds of music I like and she loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as I do. Maybe she’s like I was before I reclaimed my independence. Only time will tell.

I’m told that the man who had to play basketball, the one who couldn’t spare a lunch hour for me during the last six months of our marriage either for a quick meal or to check on me when I was too sick to crawl out of bed, often has lunch with his new girlfriend as well as dinner. A part of me thinks that if he’d ever have time for me when we were still married, then we might still be married now.

I try to summon anger or hurt, but neither is there. Whatever emotion was there has been explored and used up and nothing remains.

Instead, it’s my intellect that kicks in, and I remember what various psychiatrists have said about verbal abusers. They advise the ex-wives not to get upset when the abuser becomes friendly with a new woman and treats her like a queen. Why? Because it won’t last. He’ll get tired of keeping up the front, just like with the ex-wife, and he’ll soon enough treat the new woman with the same manipulations as the one before. He’ll be just as controlling and mean and nasty to the next woman because verbal abusers rarely change and it’s their nature.

“Don’t worry,” my grandfather whispers in my mind. “The day will come when you’ll thank him for being such a bastard to you.”

My breath catches, but not at the words. He shows me something—not a vision, but a feeling, and it’s something I know instantly. My life is changing in tremendous ways, and with these changes comes a new man who will love me in ways I’ve never known. It will be hard at times—no walk in the park but so very worth it—and it’ll be passionate and uplifting and disturbing and full of fire and light and heat. It’s self and couple and family and community and Universe, rippling outward in unconditional love with each of us at the center. It’s warm and beautiful and deserved. And it came so close to not happening.

The knowing stays with me for only a split second, but it’s long enough to feel the future, even though I’m not shown the face of this man I would never have known if my ex had treated me well. Had my ex not crushed my heart and dreams and had I not finally come to understand the abuse of his actions, I would have stayed with him forever and never have known this love that is to come or how special it can be.

There is a sacred communion to come with the new man, and when it does, we’ll both think only for a moment on our exes and the abuse we’ve known and questioned, and then we’ll both understand that it’s time to thank them for mistreatment that drove us both to something so much more fulfilling.

We’ll realize how close we came to never having the future.