I love that song by Gotye. I think it encapsulates the lingering hurt many of us feel after an unpleasant breakup.
When I first heard the song, I immediately thought the title perfectly reflected my feelings about my ex. I didn’t have the resentment expressed in the lyrics, but the title seemed to fit. However, after 20 years together, how could he really be just be someone I used to know? Yes, it did feel like it was eons ago — another lifetime — that we were together. Yet there are sweet memories of the times we shared.
But some recent news of his enduring some serious health challenges made me want to understand what he was going through. Last Spring, when he was diagnosed with cancer, he began recording 5-minute updates for his pals to understand what was happening without having to update dozens of people individually. He uploaded them to a public site, so when a mutual friend shared his situation had worsened, I listened to over 100 of the 134 podcasts, starting with the first one.
I found myself crying as I listened to his stories of intense pain, how frustrating it was to get information from his various health professionals, and how his normally chipper mood was hampered by his ordeals. He talked about how old he looked because of all the stress of radiation and severe back pain. I wondered if he was quickly dying.
His voice, musings and humor made me realize how I missed our connection. I harbor no romantic feelings for him. But he was one of my best friends for two decades. How can you not miss someone you were so close to for so long?
I realized I didn’t want to hold onto any resentments or anger I had about his ending our marriage. I didn’t want him to die without my reaching out to offer my support and sympathies. So I sent him a long email, telling him I listened to his recordings and would like to offer to be on his support team if that would be useful to him. I closed with telling him I thought his ending our marriage was a gift, as I would never had the courage to do so, but now I see it was the right thing to do.
There was no response for a day, then two. I had no idea what state he was in, so was fine if he didn’t reply. I had said what was important.
Then his response: He was thrilled I’d reached out, was amazed that I’d listened to over 100 of the updates, and said there was nothing he’d like better than for us to be friends now. He suggested we have a call to offer some completion answering questions we both had on the ending of our marriage.
Cool! I was pleased he’d taken my outreach so positively. I see this as a new chapter in our relationship.
So someone I used to know is becoming someone I will know again, anew.
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