Even though all 60 people were in the presentation room, it was made clear from the get-go that we were there for the person we came with and ourselves. There was to be no socializing between presentations, nor were there going to be exchanges in the group during or after the presentations.
I almost got up and left. No amount of free food and time away from the kids was going to be worth spending the entire weekend with someone I’d just divorced. I stayed only because I don’t drive at night – and it was already 8:00 in the evening at that point.
The retreat presentations started as soon as we were settled in on Friday evening. By the end of Friday night (after two presentations) I started to rethink my reasons for being there; rather I started to rethink my reasons for wanting to leave. I would discover at breakfast the following morning that the other ex-wives felt the same way. There was a strange bit of camaraderie to be had in our “group” decision to stay and see how things went.
By midday Saturday (after several presentations), I felt a compassion for my ex-husband I'd not felt in years. It was an unexpected feeling and most disconcerting. I had no idea what the hell was going on with me, but I had no faith in it. It was surely situational and would go away like any other emotion. At first I didn't share this with him, but by late afternoon it was clear there had been a definite shift in both of us. I felt — dare I say it — close to him. He shared some things he’d felt (who was this man?) and from this I felt comfortable enough to share how I felt (was this me?).
By Saturday evening there was more than a shift. There was a sense between us that we had just leapt a huge gorge – together. By late in the evening Saturday — and I know this is going to sound crazy because of everything we’ve been through and the sexless years and the divorce — I felt attracted to him.
I found myself looking at him longer each time I looked at him. At 10:00 on Saturday night, he winked at me. I know what time it was because I’d just checked the clock and noticed how much later it was than I’d thought. Normally I would be tired by that time of night. I felt strangely energized.