An Open Letter to My Ex-Husband

by Nicole Jankowski
Originally Published: 
A woman's hand with red nail polish writing something down with a green pencil
A letter to my childless self...

Dear Ex-Husband,

When I saw you in your driveway yesterday, at our routinely scheduled pickup time, it occurred to me suddenly that I have not seen you naked in almost two years. I know that my face must have conveyed the relief I was feeling at this revelation, and I’m sorry I lied and said I was distracted by the dog.

I was actually distracted by your penis.

I am just trying to be honest. I figure this is important now, since it’s something neither of us could manage to do while we were married. So in keeping with this new philosophy, there are a few things I things I think it’s important for me to say to you.

First, I am sorry. I am sorry that we promised ‘forever’ to each other when we had no concept of what ‘forever’ meant. If there is fault in that promise, it lies in the stars—how can we blame each other for what we could never have possibly understood then? We were young, we were clueless, we were still growing when we made our vows. We did not know that we would grow apart.

But thank you, anyway. Thank you for giving me a ring and lending me your last name. Thank you for teaching me about resiliency and patience. Thank you for these little creatures that often look and laugh like you. They are the best gift anyone has ever given me.

Thank you for being brave enough to fight for me. And for being tired enough to let me go, when I told you I needed to go.

While I know our Divorce Agreement spells out the visitation schedule and parenting times and who pays for the kids braces, there are a few areas left undefined. Every time I see you, there are questions lingering in the air, questions far too awkward and inappropriate even for me to ask.

Some of them will only make us both sad. They will take us back to the softer places, the times when we woke up in bed beside each other, smiling. Like, do you remember those first few nights at home with our daughter, when we just sat there and marveled over her tiny hands, the miniature fingernails that somehow, magically we created together?

Do you hear our wedding song on your ipod now and skip ahead hurriedly, or do you sit for just a minute and remember that weekend at the beach and my hair falling in my face? Or did you delete that song once and for all–afraid that hearing it would only take you back to a page in a book you closed forever?

And sometimes I wonder about what your life is like now. Do you love someone? Does someone love you?

Is she good in bed? Is your sex life better now? Does she do that thing you always wanted to do, but I had told you that the thought alone made me want to vomit?

Has your new love made you question whether you loved me at all, whether you even knew what love was when you gave it to me?

Then, there are questions about how we exist in our new space. When is it okay to hug you? At band concerts or when our daughter has scored the winning goal, when our son graduates from high school? When your aunt has died and I see you at the funeral, with your new wife at your side? Should I touch your hand and say kind words? Or should I just wave and turn away?

Everything has changed and that is the way it has to be. I get that. We aren’t Facebook friends, we don’t even talk on the telephone. Instead we text in short hand. l type ‘TY’ and you send back a ‘np’, like teenagers who have never handwritten a note or a Christmas card.

Like strangers in the driveway.

Finally, I want to tell you I am not angry anymore. I went to therapy, I read all the books about moving on. I learned how to tie it to a balloon and to let it go. But I know you are angry still. I can see it in the way you twist up your mouth when you see me.

Which makes me think of one more question.

Do you think you’ll forgive me soon?

With Fondest Regards,

Your Ex-Wife

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