I felt invaded when Laurel took objection to me wearing it and told me that the ring was about my connection to Crystal. I knew what she thought about my marriage. She was objecting, indirectly, to me wearing it or attaching importance to it. She might have been curious about it, but her curiosity is not what I heard in my own ear. Rightly or wrongly, I perceived judgment. She told me that she wouldn't wear jewelry that some ex-lover had given her around me and said that she didn't want it touching her. I told Laurel that the ring is mine; I earned it; it was about me, now, not about Crystal. What right did she have to question my attachment to it? Did I demand that she divest herself of things special to her? My sense of justice was picqued. I felt surprised and very, very defensive, although I was not entirely conscious of my defensiveness, at the time. I was merely anxious to tell her why I valued the ring, but I wasn't even clear at all in telling her that rightly or wrongly, I did feel trespassed. I wasn't even explaining, so much as making an argument, objecting to what I perceived to be a rejection. Eek. Blasted wounds.
Crystal was not a wealthy student. The ring represented not a small material investment on her part. In terms of the time value, I believe that it was worth more, in terms of her income at the time, than men are advised to spend on an engagement ring - two months of income. I had got her a ring for her birthday, previously. It was a garnet. It was about the same dollar value, I think, but given my own better earning power, my present to her certainly didn't represent the same investment of my leisure, that her present to me represented to her.
The stone in my ring is an opal. It's my birthstone, and like Gollum's claim on the One Ring, it was a birthday present. Crystal told me that it made her think of me, because the subtle colors in the stone, which looks white to a casual glance or from a distance, reminded her that I am much more complex than I appear on the surface, or at first glance. For years, people I met have to commented on it, told me it was interesting, pretty. I was proud of it. I could boast that my college sweetheart, the woman I had eventually married, had given it to me and I did.
One time, shortly after Crystal and I married, I misplaced it. I turned our apartment upside down looking for it. When I couldn't find it, and could not think of anywhere else I might have misplaced it, I was heartbroken. Sometime, shortly after I sat down and tried to think of more places to look, despairing that I had lost it for good, Crystal found it. I don't remember where I'd left it, but it was someplace stupid. I was so relieved. I think Crystal was somewhat surprised at how much it meant to me.
These anecdotes are part of a good story to tell, which is to say, entertaining and moving and sentimental. Was I fantasizing? The thing is: was I discussing a relationship in "Real Time", or "Matrix Time," the phony, world of simulated emotions, thinking, and evasions? To me, to ask that question is to answer it. The thing certainly did mean something to me when it was given to me, and while I was married. What does it mean now? That relationship is long gone.
The ring belongs to my inner magician, my fantasizer, Velastir. I've known him for a long time, even before I discovered the IFS stuff and learned of a useful way to conceptualize him and his role in my character and thinking. I've always known that the ring is his. I've said it to myself, frequently, long before now, never realizing the symbolic truth the thought contained. It's a magic ring. It is the proper belonging for a wizard. I suppose that it has come to represent a certain amount of fantasy thinking about my marriage and what it was. To be sure, there were excellent parts to my marriage, but am I more sentimentally attached to the piece of jewelry than I am to what the real relationship meant? The marriage collapsed.
I told myself the ring is proof that my wife had honestly loved me, at least at one point in our lives, that despite twelve years of marriage to the woman and being told the same soul-corroding thing, frequently, year after year, what a poor spouse I was, she had loved me, honestly, at some point. It was a truth of the universe that could not be wished away. At some point in time, Crystal had loved me. But the truth is, I was not a good partner to her, in many ways, in many times, just as I had many failings as a father. Was the ring a symbol of the denial of what faults I did have, the denial of my part in often failing to connect in empathy, intimacy, and honesty with my wife, the denial of my failings when I did not show my daughters proper human respect, when I did not engage them with genuine curiosity about them and nurture them as they needed? Was the ring about my virtues in that marriage, or was it a way of hiding from my failings? I know what I felt about it. This line of inquiry feels correct. Isn't it? I'm not sure.
So, I was becoming exasperated and defensive. I became aware that I was being emotional and defensive, so I stopped to think about it for a minute. I realized that I was retailing a canned story for her, and not just to her, but to anyone I spoke to about the topic. What did a piece of jewelry really mean? Was my attachment to it nothing but sentimentality? I began to fear that it was. Was it more important to me than Laurel? No. That it was not. So, I looked at her and took it off and set it on the window sill next to the bed. I told her that I would not wear it for seven days and see what I felt at that point. She looked shocked. Why? I still don't know. We said good night shortly after that. After she signed off I started thinking about things some more. I decided that it is indeed silly and sentimental to be attached to a piece of jewelry. So, I took the ring and put it back in its box and put it away. I suppose that I don't need it, after all. At any rate, what it represented is over. I suppose maybe that I will give the ring to Xander one day. The opal is his birthstone as well. I can live with truth.