A letter to… my ex-husband

It has been years since we separated and divorced and I think this letter is long overdue. I’ve thought about writing it several times over the years but I always put it off. This time it feels different. I’m walking the Camino to Santiago and I have had time to think about a lot of things. The Camino is like that. I set out on my own from the border of France and within hours I was walking with a woman from Belgium . Thank goodness she speaks good English because my French hasn’t improved since we were together and my Flemish is non-existent. My language abilities have not improved with time.

As we walked along, we met others and by the time we reached León there were eight of us. We often walk alone during the day or meet up for coffee but we always try to get together in the evenings. It is a really happy time. Carefree is how I would describe it. As you know after we were divorced I married Doug and we’ve now been together for a long time. When I told him I wanted to walk 800 kms along this trail to Santiago he totally supported me and the journey so far has been fantastic. When I’ve been walking I’ve been thinking a lot and I’ve realised that there are many things I never said to you mostly because you were so hurt and angry when we split up.

The first thing I want to say to you is that I am not writing to apologise. I said I was sorry at the time and even then that was only because I knew what was happening was hurting you. We’d been together since we were young.  As I look back I realise that when we met we were both quite lonely souls. We seemed the ideal couple to other people. I loved your parents and to be totally honest you were a kind and considerate lover.  We got on well together and it is true we had some common interests. I still remember some of the laughs we had.

But then “wham” out of the blue I met  Doug. He was transferred to our office from another branch.  I couldn’t explain any of this to you at the time because you thought I had just had an affair and was rejecting you.  Now I need you to know that this happened not because I didn’t love and respect you. It happened because I wasn’t “in” love with you. I’d never have known what that meant until it happened to me. When I met Doug I felt the connection, then of course the attraction. I tried to resist. I wondered if this was infatuation.

Early on I knew this was something completely different to anything I had experienced before, with you or with anyone. This was like a magnetic pull, a force, a deep, deep desire to be with someone no matter what. I remember the crestfallen look when I told you about him and that I had to leave.  You were broken and over the years from time to time that look on your face has flashed into my mind. I couldn’t explain then that fond as I was of you I had fallen totally in love with someone else. And that love continues to this day. I didn’t like his parents the way I like yours but my feelings for him outweighed that. I lost some of our friends who disapproved of what I had done. I couldn’t do anything about that. I was compelled to follow my heart.

Today as I walk this path, I feel totally grateful that this happened to me. I know it doesn’t happen to everyone. I’ve no idea what happened to you after we moved to the other side of the country. So many years have passed.  We are all getting older. Doug and I have been married 40 years now. I’m the oldest person in the group of pilgrims I am with. But I my heart still skips when I know I’ll be seeing Doug. I hope dear Tom you experienced even just a little of that in your life.

A Pilgrim

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