The Road Not Taken


It’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling.

I mean, I could try, and I have but none of what I have to say is a true reflection of my experiences over the last week. Does that ever happen to you? Do words ever fail to describe the events that have happened to you and the subsequent feelings associated with those events?

I could say I am happy, I am amazed, I am inspired – all would be true. 

I could say that I am still in disbelief that what happened happen – that would be true too.

Oh, I guess I forgot to say what happened.

My ex-husband, who literally walked out of my life in 2009, apologized to me for giving up and for complaining about me to people outside of our marriage. He regrets both and realizes that I was the one he should’ve spoken to, but he had already given up.

I didn’t ask for the apology. I gave up wishing for that long ago – not due to resignation as you may think. I let go of that expectation because I knew I could heal my heart without getting it. 

I had a choice, like the two roads that Robert Frost wrote about in the Road Not Taken. Yet unlike Robert Frost I was NOT sorry I couldn’t travel both. 

One road led to bitterness, resentment, distrust – all the feelings I could feel and many women (and men) feel when their spouse leaves without a word.

The other road? The one I chose? Forgiveness, grace, love, trust, willingness, curiosity.

It took me two years to get there and then, very intentionally, over the last six years, he and I have become friends. While we don’t talk that often there has been an unspoken agreement that if either of us needed anything we could call the other. We are better friends than married is what we both came to on our own.

But after his heartfelt apology, followed by a few hours of additional conversation and questions and space for each other we both realized that wasn’t true.

It wasn’t true that we were better friends than being married. What was true for both of us in our own way was, that at some point, we both gave up and blamed the other. We stopped creating our relationship. We became resigned.

We acknowledged the breakdowns. We acknowledged how we both grew and how both of us are happy with our lives. He is happily remarried and his kids, my step kids, are doing great and I am in their lives, which is very important to both of us. I am happy being a nomad, traveling the world, writing, creating, speaking, coaching and connecting with so many amazing people on this planet.

The amount of healing that happened during this three-hour conversation I can’t even begin to understand. I know I feel settled and peaceful in a way I didn’t know I was missing. 

I also know that the future of dating and relationship and connecting looks very different to me now.

How do you handle tough conversations like these?

Jen Coken