Our daughter had her sixteenth birthday party this weekend, with several friends, lots of food, and teenaged fun. The party was held at our home, the home of my fiancee and I. As the plans were being made for the party, there had been a lot of discussion around whether or not my ex partner would be here. I let her know that she was welcome to come, to help set up, and to stay as long as she liked. She was unclear as to how long she would come for, so I was prepared for whatever her decision was.
When she first arrived with our daughter, it felt a bit awkward. I mean, we rarely sit for any great length of time in each others’ company anymore. Part of that is because we live different lives from one another, and are involved in different activities from one another. The other part is because even when we are both attending activities for our daughter, we sit separately from one another, and we interact, but not much.
It was new territory for me.
What ended up happening is that she arrived early, she helped to set up, she even ran back to her house to take care of some details for the party. She came back, and stayed until the end. She and I helped keep the party going, we talked a lot, and had a meal together. It was an amazing evening. She even had some conversation with my fiancee, and it seemed open and honest. The evening ended with her giving me a big hug before she left.
I have thought about that evening quite a bit since then. What I believe brought such openness to the experience was that I had laid down my defenses, probably for the first time since we have broken up. I have been putting them down, little by little, since we broke up, but more intentionally in the last few months. I have been breaking away my need to control, compare or defend myself when it comes to my ex partner. I have been seeing her with more open, loving eyes. I have been accepting her for who she is more than I even did when we were together.
When I put my defenses down, and stop believing that there is something TO defend, I get to live in the truth of the present moment. I get to speak to her about life, about what is happening with her, and I get to be myself fully without explanation or apology. When I am open, I get to just view her, and myself, as two people in the world that are sharing space for a time, and knowing one another in a different way.
I don’t know if a moment like that will happen again, in the near or far future. And, it really doesn’t matter if it does happen again. Just knowing that I always have a choice, a choice to be open and in truth, is plenty enough for me.