Bittersweet Memories

fall2

Fall.

This is my favorite time of year. With the leaves changing colors and the weather becoming cooler. It brings back memories of going apple picking and drinking cider and doughnuts from the cider mills. Of picking out pumpkins and carving them and then baking the pumpkin seeds.

I got engaged at this time of year. Six years ago he asked me to marry him in front of my family. I said yes and we celebrated on Halloween by going to a costume party at our favorite local club. I carried over my family traditions and made new memories with him and his daughter and then later, our daughter.

We picked apples at local orchards. I watched in delight as our daughter held her first whole apple and bit into it with her little baby teeth. As she climbed ladders to reach the apples that were too high. We went raspberry picking one year and she would run down the rows trying to find raspberries that were ripe enough to pick. I let daddy and sissy help her so that I could enjoy the solitude of finding raspberries that were just right.

One Halloween, our daughter was a monkey. It was too cold and rainy to go trick-or-treating, so we drove around and went house to house so she could have the experience of knocking on the door and getting Halloween candy. Last year, she was a little witch. It was raining really hard that year, so we drove around to each house and I walked with her covering us both with an umbrella. She was so excited. She and our son stayed at the sitter that night so he and I could go to a Halloween party.

Feelings of nostalgia from my marriage are confusing to me. Devastating. Remembering the good times makes it harder to remember why I left. Nonetheless, there were good times interspersed with the bad times.

It’s painful to remember the good times and to know that the man who took our family apple picking, and trick-or-treating, and who so patiently helped our daughter pick out the best raspberries, was the same man who pressured me to have sex with him and who ran the backside of a knife across my throat just to get a reaction.

My husband could act like the good guy when he wanted to. He could fake empathy and generosity, but it was always a manipulation for his benefit. To others, he presented as father-of-the-year, husband-of-the-year, friend-of-the-year. Always up for a good time, the comedian, the host. While I was the wife who was a homebody that liked to stay home with the kids. I was the understanding wife who didn’t care that he went on road trips to his hometown without me or that he went out with the guys every weekend to get drunk. This was how he presented me to others because, if I was anything different, that showed badly on him.

So, all these memories; they are not pleasant. They are like a knife to the chest. They don’t feel genuine. The only solace I have is that my kids enjoyed the experiences and we can make new memories without him.