« Sculptures in Time | Main | Simon in Disney World »

Phantom Ring

wood1.jpgPhantom Limb is a well-known and documented phenomenon. For those not familiar with it, amputees often feel sensations in their missing limb. I have something similar to that. I have "Phantom Ring." It's been well over five years since I took off my wedding ring but I can still feel the sensation of it around my left ring finger. My thumb still crosses my palm to fiddle with it, like a tongue drawn to a cavity in a tooth. Its absence still is befuddling for me.

Today would have been my 16th anniversary but, less you get the wrong idea, let me assure you that this isn't some poetic allegory about regret or remorse. I suppose part of me wants this Phantom Ring to mean something, though I couldn't say what it was. Perhaps it is just the sensation of something that was that has passed.

I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking, "Isn't that sweet?" or "Isn't that pathetic? He still longs after his ex-wife." Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm glad Charlotte and I divorced. In fact, the more I think about it the better I feel about it. Our divorce opened up a whole new way of being for me that wouldn't have been realized in our marriage. I've taken responsibility for my own life, my own choices, my own environment, and, not inconsequentially, my own finances.

Yet, the Phantom Ring persists. I can't say what it means, if it means anything. I just report the fact that I have a Phantom Ring.


It's interesting that you still "feel" your ring after 5 years--Brett likes to take his off and show the deep indentation it leaves on his finger, even when he's had it off for hours,operating. He jokes that no one would ever buy the "I'm single" line.
I've apparently maimed him for life!

In another vein, though. It's interesting; you and I have some opposite views of marriage. I was living independently at 18 and didn't get married until I was 33, so I had 15 yrs of single adult life. It had its good points, particularly the quiet rooms, the very small laundry pile, and the fact that, if I cleaned something, it stayed clean for much longer. I was fully responsible for my own life--which sometimes I managed well, and sometimes I didn't, and I learned a whole heck of a lot about finances. My choices were mine, but they were often dictated by the need to earn a living and to help friends and family which, tbh, were not always joyful and fulfilling choices.

Then I got married--and had 3 kids pretty quickly, so my marital experience is intertwined with the parental one. When I married, I remained repsonsible for my own choices, and, funnily enough, for the family finances, and the environment, hey, that was ALL mine, ha ha ha... What changed was that I was accountable to someone else. My decisions had a larger impact. I realized this about a month after the wedding, when I saw an ad in the paper for a job which would have been a great match for me (I had left my old one when I moved). It matched my education, talents, long-held career goals, everything. The only problem was, it was 45 mins away. Of course I could drive it, but I realized that this would severely limit the time and energy I would have left for Brett. And when we had children? So I began to reset my priorities.

That is what I have noticed the most about marriage. It brings joy to my life, but it has helped me to grow as a woman and a Christian as well. Jesus continually exhorts us to serve others, esteem others as better than ourselves, etc. We are to submit to God's will in our lives, whether or not we always would prefer to. So it is actually an exercise in spiritual discipline to get up with your newborn, what, 30 or 40 times a night; to clothe your children while you decide that 10 year old sweatshirts still work for you; to sit through Lord of the Rings, do the yard work, remember all the birthdays, manage the social obligations, pick up endless amounts of toys and clothing, and chase little people through the park or the grocery store. Now that I am 40, it becomes increasingly apparent that there are a lot of goals that I will probably not reach, because the time I would need to do so belongs to my family. I am not always thrilled about it, but I realize that in the end it is the better choice, and the one God expects of me. And some days that's the knowledge I need to get me through another day of poo, tattling, "I don't like thiiiiiiis," and "Honey, I've got to do another emergency colon resection after this one.., so I won't be home--sorry you're so sick..."

Obviously, everyone's life and circumstances are different, and life throws us plenty of curve balls that we swing at the best we can. And I can only speak as a woman--I have never been a husband or father. I just found it interesting how our lives were kind of flip-flopped versions of each other, and what lessons we each gathered from them.

Now Nicholas keeps sticking his hands in his diaper and looking at them..gotta go, 'cause he apparently already has!

Love ya,


I wouldn't say we have opposite views, I'd say we have had different experiences. I wasn't making generalizations. I was only speaking from my experience.

Further, just because I'm not married doesn't mean I don't have people in my life. I'm still a father. I still run a household.

But I take your points and am happy for you that your marriage has been so fulfilling for you.

Of course. That's why I mentioned that I haven't been a husband or father--because I know that you guys experience things differently, and I wanted to make sure that I didn't say something that could be taken as offensive. It just seemed interesting to me that you feel that you are more responsible for your own choices, finances, etc., now that you are single, than when you were married. I don't think I have ever heard any of my divorced friends--at least the guys, put it that way before.

As far as fulfilling goes...well, that depends on the day! I think that with each position, you make some trade-offs, whether or not you intend to. If you are single, then you trade some companionship, sex, shared responsibility, etc., for a little more freedom, and hopefully the chance to achieve some personal goals, although I think that depends on your work/financial/family situation. If you choose to marry, you give up some of that freedom,but gain the intimacy and sex. Then when you have kids, you give up quite a bit more (as well as some of the sex and marital companionship.....HEY! WAIT A SECOND!!!!!)But then again, I don't know how important it is to be personally "fulfilled" in life. The older I get, the more I come to think that "fulfillment" is one of those red herrings that keep us from enjoying the imperfect lives we have, and that pursuing it is a distraction from more important, probably less pleasant, tasks.

Well, now it's time to take them to swimming lessons, and then church...and everyone's whiny. Yay. But I hope that you didn't think that I was somehow disparaging. I remember when I was single and childless, esp. after I hit 30, I felt like the whole world was pretty much saying, "you don't have a real life, because you are not married and have a rabbit for a kid. Oh, and turtles. Oh, and your job pays crap, so you can't show off your glitzy lifestyle instead. And you go out with, what, one guy a year, so...." And I don't ever want to give off that vibe to anyone. If I did, I'm sorry--it certainly wasn't intentional.

More whining and a tantrum. Must not be one of the fulfilling days:)


For some reason I woke up in the middle of the night in a blind panic because I could not find my wedding ring. It wasn't on my finger; it wasn't on the bedside table. Of course it wasn't. I haven't worn it for over 6 years now.

Can you tell me the source of the phantom limb image?

very interesting story!

Thank you,


I honestly don't remember where I found the image I used. This post was a year and a half ago and I've slept since then. Glad you found it and enjoyed it though.

I thought I was the only one. I also am glad that i'm divorced. what i feel has nothing to do with that.
Ithink there is supposed to be something there. when i told this to my boyfriend of 7 years, he said " well lets put something there" 2 months later he broke up with me(too long to get into, but you couldn't write a better script)
as I write this, my thumb is again reaching over to stroke this "ring" that isn't there...I guess I will just have to wait and see what the future holds for me, I hope that he comes back and I can replace the phantom, with the real...

Update: I woke up in a blind panic around 1:30 am this morning searching for my ring. Took me a good 2 minutes to settle down. I think I may need to talk to my therapist about this.

I too feel the phantom ring. I was talking to my sister just today about it. I don't think it actually means anything other than the fact that something was there for 8 years that I fiddled with from time to time and now that it's gone, I have to find something else to fiddle with when I'm bored or nervous.

Post a comment