“When one door closes another door opens,
but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door,
that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.
Over sixteen years ago I went through that re-birth. After a traumatic divorce I met a wonderful man who invited me to blend my family with his, and to partner with him in creating a new life together; opening new doors and new opportunities for me and my children. In order for us to take this step we had to consider that my soon-to-be-husband shared custody with his children’s mother and including them in our life meant living in close proximity to them. So when I decided to open that door and say “yes” to his proposal, it also meant leaving my southern community, friends and family, and relocating “up north” far away from the people I had spent most of my life with. These people were responsible for helping me hold things together after my ex-husband left me, they made me realize that I had a whole future ahead of me, “new doors will open for you” they assured me, thankfully doors did open but that also meant that some doors closed.
Understandably, when I moved on, my new life kept me pretty busy. New job, new community, new husband, new step-kids, and my new extended family left little time for much else. Foremost on the priority list for me and my husband was getting to know each other and figuring out how to balance our needs as a new couple while meeting the needs of our children and making sure their adjustment was as smooth as possible.
During this transition I thought I kept in touch as well as could be expected given the circumstances with the people “back home”; but meeting up with a friend from my past gave me much to think about and I learned some things that I felt were important enough to share with you.
Call it what you will, destiny, fate; I believe it to be Divine intervention that brought me face to face with a friend from my past life; we met up at a simcha of a distant family member of mine. Over the past decade we had both moved to Israel but lived in different communities, so we did not have that many opportunities for our paths to cross. The few times we had met had been what I would describe as a brief awkward encounters, which seemed odd since we had been close prior to my re-marriage and re-location. Although I had noticed that things were strained between us, I did not dwell on it and reasoned that she must be as busy in her life as I was in mine. This last chance meeting though left me questioning whether or not I had done something wrong, however, I simply could not remember any past conflict between us. Could there be some deeper message I was supposed to be getting from this, a lesson to be learned? Was it possible that I had some unfinished business from my past that I needed to address?
The last image I had was of us hugging and dancing together at my wedding. She had been a wonderful friend. I did not have a phone number, but I did have an old e-mail address so I decided to write and simply ask. The reply I got from her surprised me.
She told me off; she felt that when I moved away I simply cut off people that cared about me and supported me through a difficult time in my life.
Her initial response was coming from a place of pain and hurt over the loss of a friendship, compounded by years of a misunderstanding being allowed to fester. I understood that. She felt I had abandoned a great friendship when I walked through the “open door” that I was presented with. Since I try to learn and grow from every experience, my first step was to acknowledge that I had caused her hurt and I thanked her for the opportunity to make amends. I also realized that if she had a chance to get a view from the other side, if I had a chance to fill in the pieces for her, she might feel differently.
It is extremely hard to move on after a divorce. Starting a new marriage with children is overwhelming. It felt almost too much to deal with at times. I had fabulous friends and family that I left behind and I missed them terribly, but I was simply drained and exhausted by day’s end to try and stay in touch on a regular basis. Blending my past life with my new life was more difficult than I had anticipated. It was physically complicated given the distance, and emotionally complex as I was in some ways grieving for my old life while starting my new one.
There were days when it felt like I was an actress playing a role in someone else’s amazing story, but I would be lying if I did not say that there were times I wished that I could just wake up and resume life as I had known it, and go back to what was familiar.
Had I been tuned into these feelings back then, I could have discussed them with her; I believe she would have understood, but I simply did not have the clarity at the time to see things this way.
Fortunately we have both decided to open a new door and give our friendship another chance. I am sure that things will be different now; so much has changed in both our lives that we simply cannot just pick up where we left off. We are at a different stage now, with several grown children and many memories created without one another. We no longer live in close proximity so much of our contact will be by e-mail and phone calls, but I am looking forward and excited to see how this new/old friendship might develop.
I have learned a great deal from this experience and it is my hope that by sharing this story, people on both sides of similar situations will be more open and understanding of the process. Change is not easy.
This experience has also been the catalyst for my reaching out to friends past and present to let them know how much I truly cherish our relationships. I hope that by reassuring my friends of how important they are to me they realize that no matter what comes our way, or how far the distance between us, we will do our best to keep each other close in our hearts.
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