The Road Taken: Readers Weigh In

In last week’s post, Key West Redux, I mentioned that I needed to take a break from The Road Taken series, because I wasn’t sure where I was heading. I asked for your input and two of you offered it. I found this very useful, so thank you, Bella and Debbie. I’ve included your comments and questions below and, after giving it a lot of thought, I’ve added my responses, too.

Debbie:  As for your Rick saga, would it work to delve into your mixed feelings at going back home, wondering if you’d done the right thing, waiting for G to say or do something that would make you question your choice even more?? Just trying to help!

MTW:  Not really, because, at the time, I didn’t have mixed feelings. I never doubted, for a moment, that I was doing the right thing by parting ways with Rick. Hindsight is 20-20, after all, and I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight then. It was still early in the marriage and much was yet to unfold.

My brother said G was a cross between actor Alan Alda and...

The way I saw it, I hadn’t been married long enough. In my heart, I believed I needed to give my relationship with G a chance. I balanced the knowledge that Rick was a gorgeous, romantic adventurer with a shared love of writing, against the fact that I already had ties with G, who I considered to be a good guy, with a great sense of humor.

My brother used to say that G reminded him of a cross between Alan Alda (think, M*A*S*H) and the comedian, David Brenner. I think he was right. G was affable, intelligent and witty. If you recall, it was his humor that first attracted me to him. What’s more, in my estimation, G had the advantage, because he had already made a commitment to me through our marriage vows.

...comedian David Brenner.

Bella:  Regarding The Road Taken, I’d love to read about your emotional state when Rick exited the picture. Did you feel despair, regret, blame your marriage for standing in the way? What prompted G to go from loving husband to philandering jerk? Did you see the signs? But more importantly, once he exited the picture, how did you pick up the pieces? Would you have taken him back once you knew of his infidelity? I want to know!

MTW: When I said goodbye to Rick, my emotional state was one of quiet sadness, which I revealed to no one, then. I felt an ache in my heart, coupled with the knowledge that I had to go forward. Yes, I felt bad about Rick, but I felt worse, feeling that I had neglected G (although he wasn’t around much at all during this time, because of his studies, so if I did neglect him, he never let on).

What prompted G to go from loving husband to a philanderer? Good question. I cannot pinpoint “the what,” but I think it was a series of things and of moments. Looking back, I have a recollection of a time he actually tried to warn me about a dark cloud hovering over our future.

He had just completed his doctorate and we were about to move across country for his new job. My plan was not to find work right away, but to stay at home for a while with our newborn while enrolling our oldest in kindergarten. G looked me in the eye and said that if I went ahead with this plan, he would surely lose interest in me. That, as a stay-at-home mom, I would become uninteresting to him. Surprised at first, I actually shrugged this off, convincing myself he didn’t mean it. I would show him I could be interesting and yet not work. It was our children that I’d be taking care of, after all. Well, he turned out to be right. Within two years, we’d be seeing the beginning of the end.

There were about 12 years between Rick and the demise of my marriage, and how I picked up the pieces after G exited is a whole other story. A series of You-Will-Not-Believe-It moments. One devastating shock after another.  I lost my way for a while. I lost the will to eat. I hit rock bottom. It was one of the darkest, most difficult periods of my life. But I’ll get to it, in good time.

In the meantime, these comments have given me food for thought. Please continue to weigh in, and I will work on the next installment of The Road Taken.

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20 thoughts on “The Road Taken: Readers Weigh In

  1. Your life, as experienced by you, does not need someone else’s permission to have your perspective. I know this, because I have worried about this too. Gather two people – especially in my family – and choose an event or occasion to discuss. The basic details may be the same, but everyone sees the rest entirely different. I kept thinking I needed to try to understand their perspective in order to hone my own until it hit me one day that I had the right to feel any way I wanted to about my own life. My perspective is unique and so is yours. Roll around in your own truth and know that many of us find you very interesting! I bet your children do as well.

    • It’s so true. Just ask the police. When they interview several witnesses to a crime, they soon find each saw the crime in a different way. One heard two gun shots, another heard three. The criminal had a scar, no it was a tatoo. And so on. So why shouldn’t our memories be any different? And you are right, I do worry about this, so thanks for letting me know that it’s ok to tell it from my perspective and not worry about the rest! I so appreciate you reading my blog. 😉

  2. Remember the incredibly poignant scene in “Madison County” where the woman is in the car with her husband and he’s talking on and on and on while her mind and heart are on the man she fell in love with, who is right in front of them in his car, in living color. It’s raining, the windshield wipers are going, and she’s having a hard time listening to her husband because she’s aching for this wonderful man who couldn’t be. Eventually the roads diverge. HE goes left and they go right and her husband keeps on talking, talking, talking and the love of her life disappears…… The standstill of your story reminds me of that scene.

    • I’d forgotten that part, but you have a way of retelling it that makes me want to watch the film again. There are definite similarities. Karen, I am honored that you compare such a best-selling story to mine. That is truly wonderful and makes my day. Thank you.

  3. –Monica,
    You must write for YOU; what you feel, what you experience, what flows from your mind and soul… You must allow your characters to make the decision for you… not the readers.

    Whatever you decide…I will be reading. Xxx

    • Kim, in my heart I know you’re right, and I so appreciate all the feedback I’m getting today. I truly admire you because I see how you are always open, honest on your blog. You call it as you see it, and I want to always strive for that, too. So thanks, Kim. And thanks for your support.

  4. Monica, I LOVE how you brought me and Bella into your thought process with regard to continuing your story about Rick! You’re absolutely right — a young married woman, early in her marriage, naturally would focus on stability rather than jumping ship, the safe and familiar rather than pie-in-the-sky. This shows us your character and makes us empathize that much more with you, especially considering how you’ve alluded to what’s to befall you down the road. It almost sounds as if G was looking for an excuse to get out of the marriage; most people don’t have to look too hard because none of us is perfect. I’ll be interested in reading your next installment.

    • Well, both you and Bella were a big help! Thank you, too, for understanding my choices at the time. It seemed the only one for me at the time. Too frightening to consider any other. Hope you like my next Road Taken post. Stay tuned!

  5. I missed “Key West” so I had to go read (lovely photos, btw) and I think you just got to the point where you emotionally wrung yourself out, needed a rest before going on.

    • Nancy, I think you can read my mind. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Add to that, the feeling of sadness because writing about Rick made me feel like I lost him all over again. Sigh.

      Anyway, I’m so glad you liked my photos of Key West. I love taking pictures and I hope my pictures captured the joy I felt being there. 🙂

  6. I, too, like how you added the comments and reply. I think it is best that you write with the intention of going deep into your thoughts at the time. Take the advice of Joan Didion…”We tell ourselves stories in order to live. Ot at last we do for a while.” And her other line…”Writers are always selling somebody out.” Don’t worry about where it’s going…just get as deep as you can into the time and emotions. That is going to make this pop. (easier said than done, right?)

    • Annie, those are wonderful quotes. I especially like the second one because, to be honest, I sometimes feel guilt about selling out my ex. But on the other hand, there would be no way to tell my story without including him and all the blemishes and scars. I don’t know what I’d do without you and all my readers who have been following this story. It’s scary sometimes telling the truth. But knowing you’re there to read, support and help me be honest, and stay sane while I’m writing, is great comfort to me. Thanks, Annie!

  7. Monica, whatever you choose to write about, you engage your readers with your honest, vulnerable, and thoughtful nature. We will follow and read you no matter what, so write away whatever your inuition tells you to write.

  8. Monica, I love how you’ve included both the comments and the replies in this post! I really think your series of “The Road Taken” is a magnificent part of your blog and I honestly feel that many of us can relate to your story. Reading about someone’s else’s difficulties and ability to triumph over adversity, in my opinion, is always empowering.It’s what gives the rest of us sisters hope; hope that we don’t have to stay down when life kicks us in the teeth. I believe it’s through inspiring stories like yours, that women in your same circumstances feel motivated to go forward and take the bull by the horns. After all, if one of us can do it, doesn’t that mean others might be able to follow in her footsteps? I’ve always been a sucker for stories of overcoming obstacles. They allow me to believe, to keep the faith, to carry on in spite of how weary I might be. I’m super excited to see what the next installments will reveal. Thank you for considering our suggestions. As always, you are a peach!

    • No, Bella, THANK YOU for your questions which got me thinking and were very provocative. In fact, I’ve already started working on my next installment and you will find that your comments helped shape it, gave me some ideas on how and what to write. I love that you’re such a loyal reader of my road taken series and have such good insight. It’s been really helpful!

  9. Thanks for taking us down the road with you. I think we all have “what might have beens” and regrets, but you’re so right that we have to do the best we can with the information we have at the time. I can’t say that I’ll enjoy hearing about that painful period in your life, but I know I’ll appreciate your ability to share your experience with honesty. Stories, both tragic and joyful, are essential.

  10. Hi, Monica ~ I think you need to write what your heart prompts you to write. Readers live vicariously through shared stories, the ups and downs of everyday life. Your lessons learned are life lessons imparted to all of us who may or may not have done things differently. Hindsight is just that – hindsight. And you have no way of knowing how differently your life would have turned out had you chosen to follow Rick. It is what it is.

    • You are so right, Nancy. But in this case, I think I felt drained and “reliving” the whole Rick saga, and didn’t really know how to proceed after Rick. I was in a quandary, so I turned to my readers for help. I’m still not 100% back on track but I think I have an idea of where I’ll go next. Thanks for your input!

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