When my husband of 27 years confessed that he had no feelings left for me, I was sure that I would never again believe in the power of love.
We had a joyful life together, full of exciting vacations, shared interests and outings with family and friends. Like any couple, we had our ups and downs, but we were never hateful to one another. There were no vicious fights and very few arguments. At the end, there was only a void where love once lived.
In June we agreed that he was depressed. He was not facile about his feelings – he expressed grief, shame and remorse, tried therapy and antidepressants. They did not help. Finally, he said, “These feelings aren’t coming back.”
He quietly moved into his own apartment on a crisp wintry day about two weeks before Christmas. A friend took me to the mall, hoping that the traditional holiday shopping ritual would provide a much-needed diversion.
I kept the news about my separation to myself at first, shamed by the realization that I was no longer loved, embarrassed because friends had always called us the perfect couple, afraid that the slightest remark or observation would cause me to dissolve in tears.
Though some of my closest friends did not know about my situation for many months, I slowly began to confide my feelings of hurt and loss. What I found was an amazing support network that I had not known existed.
I thought that I would lose friends whom I had met through my husband, but they stood firmly beside both of us. Even his best friend wrote a note telling me that he still loved me and planned to spend time with me — with or without my husband. Another dear friend called every day for months just to talk or find something that would make me laugh. Yet another held me while I cried until I could cry no more.
I had found a compassionate therapist who told me things that I will remember all of my life. She also urged me to seek refuge in my friends, using the example of elephants, who she said are among the only animals that will pick up the weaker members and carry them until they can stand on their own. She said, “You need to find your elephants.”
I had not known that they were there all along, a fiercely protective group of pachyderms who cradled me in their trunks and shielded me from the elements, protecting me from hurt and harm.
I felt the power of their love so strongly. Certainly it was not the kind of love celebrated on Valentine’s Day or depicted in greeting cards adorned with hearts and flowers, the kind of love every teenager longs for, the kind of love I was leaving behind.
This amazing group of people helped me regain my belief in the power of love. Though sometimes they only listened, their devotion spoke loudly, saying, “We are here. You are loved.”
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