Sunday, April 7, 2013

On Divorce


This is how you get divorced.

First, you get married.

Then, you grow apart.

One of you starts zigging while the other is busy zagging, each of you drifting off in ways that are so small, so imperceptible that when you look back, stunned and wondering Where The Hell It All Went Wrong, you will barely be able to recognize those first minuscule schisms and cracks.

You get busy with the house and the jobs and the babies and the life.

Then one day, in a matter that is not completely out of the blue, you have a thought. It is the sort of thought that, once conceived, cannot easily be unthought.

You think, "This doesn't feel right."

This thought sits with you for a very long time. You eventually share it with him, you talk about it, you even make plans to split. But then you hurl yourselves back at each other in a relieved moment of, "Thank God we didn't go through with it!" You go back to the way things were because there is comfort and safety there and you're fairly certain it's all going to be okay, that the part of you that sometimes still says, "HEY! This isn't working!" can be made to shut up long enough for you to figure out a way to smother her once and for all.

That works for a few years.

But then, it doesn't.

So you talk. You decide to separate. He finds an apartment. You tell the kids. 

Everyone cries. Everyone survives.

You get used to sleeping alone in the bed, used to a quiet house on the weekend, used to bracing against storms on your own. Everyone survives.

You fight over the house. You have cake together on your sons' birthdays. You fight over money. You sit and have a burger and a beer with him one night in his yard and hope that this is what the future holds, this friendly sort of way to be. You have big conversations that come in fits and starts, where one minute you're talking about a retainer for your nine year old and the next you're saying things like, "I'm sorry" or "We loved each other the very best we could" or "No, you're doing just fine, be good to yourself."

One night you both stand outside, beneath the light that hangs at the door of his place. It's snowing. He says, shakily, "I met someone, and I see now what you meant about this not being right because I found something that does feel right. I know it now." You're relieved over this, yet you both cry, him looking up at the light and you down at your feet.  Shame and guilt run down your cheeks, splashing and mixing with the snowflakes in your hair.  You give him an awkward hug.  This is a little bit of healing.

But it doesn't last. The accumulated hurts rise and fall over the next few weeks as you trudge toward the finish line. You take turns having at each other. Attack. Defend. Counterattack. Apologize. Attack. Repeat.

And then, suddenly, it is the last day of your marriage.

You put on some nice clothes and go to court.

You sit, composed and eager to hurry through the whole thing, even as you lose a motion to keep your house. You have just lost what you've been fighting a year and a half for and you don't even care because you know you are about to lose something so much bigger. You know it was lost a long time ago.  

They call your name. You're already crying as you take your place before the judge. You stand together one last time, your final act as a married couple.

The judge asks if your marriage began on April 21, 2001.

You're wearing a white dress and stiff shoes.  You are standing before the priest, with everyone you love sitting behind you.  He's nervous as he takes a breath to say his vows; you squeeze his hand, trying to say, "Forget all of them; just talk to me. Right now, there is only you and me."  

The judge asks if this marriage did produce two children, born in February of 2004 and September of 2005.

You're running out of the bathroom with a pregnancy test, the sweet June air lilting in through the open bedroom windows. You're jumping onto the bed, bubbling and laughing, "Do you see it?  Do you SEE IT?"  

You're laying in the hospital bed 24 hours after giving birth, hormonal and exhausted. You haven't slept in 48 hours and the baby won't nurse. He climbs into your hospital bed to lie next to you. You finally sleep.

You're driving your youngest to preschool. You see him in the rear view mirror, small in his car seat, and ask him what he wants to be when he grows up. He says, "I think I'll go to work with Daddy. I'll ride the train with him and go to work with him and then we'll ride the train home." You nod and agree that this is a good plan.

You shut your eyes, not caring who sees the hot tears washing over your face. Your entire body is shaking. You sob silently. The bailiff brings you tissues and gives you a compassionate pat on the back.

The judge says, "Is this marriage irretrievably broken?"

"Fuck you," you're screaming at him, crying, his voice yelling back as loud as your own.

You're flying down the stairs in bare feet, grasping for your keys. He's booming at you not to run away.

He's standing on the porch, turning away with contempt and saying he can't even look at you. You cringe as you see yourself through his eyes.

Yes.  It is broken.

The judge says, "Is there any hope for reconcilliation?"

He made you a mother.  You made him a father. 

You were happy together for a long time.

You loved each other the best that you could.



You loved each other the best that you could.



The answer is no.

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry. 




And then

you are divorced.




46 comments:

  1. I wrote something very similar to this for my close friends a month ago. Or, more accurately, 31 days ago. On my own divorce date. So, yes. All of this. Yes.

    Oof.

    Just nodding in your direction.

    xo

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    1. 'Oof' pretty much sums the whole thing up, doesn't it?

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  2. Just cried in my Yogurt and Granola and my dog thinks I'm a pussy. Well done.

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  3. Wow, this is well-written. I want to hug you and this is the first thing I've ever read by you. So.... internet hugs, from me to you.

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    1. Thank you, and I accept hugs of all forms, internet hugs included.

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  4. I didn't expect for this to make me cry. A year and a half from my separation and six months from my divorce. I haven't cried about anything about my divorce in a long time. But this is so raw. And so true. So so true. <3

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  5. You have made me even more sure about my decision. My children are the only healthy things about my marriage. This above account looks like a fairy tale compared to how my exact life events happened. My marriage started at the courthouse, and it will end there too. xoxo

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  6. Big hugs, lady. This shit is hard.

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  7. Beautifully, and poignantly written. Painfully, and soulfully lived. Blessings to you all.

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    1. Thank you...I love the phrase 'soulfully lived.' I'm going to hang on to that for when I need it to remind me what this whole messy life is about.

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  8. This is very powerful. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you...and thanks for reading.

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  9. So beautiful in it's brutal truth. Well done.

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  10. Wonderful, despite the pain. This is beautiful, Jenn.

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  11. Sending you some love and the strength to face what seems to be the impossible. Incredibly powerful writing.

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  12. Well done. My 1st divorciversary is in a week. Like Maggie... I'm nodding.

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    1. I hope this last year has brought you some peace.

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  13. Tears.
    I'm so sorry.
    May the next chapter in your life be as beautiful as your writing (which is stunning).

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    1. Thank you, Alison, on both counts. :)

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  14. If no one ever felt the pain of divorce, your writing transcends feelings and goes right to the soul! We all start with good intentions. May you have the life that was intended for you and may you be as happy as one can be. Love yourself and the extension of yourself.

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  15. Beautifully written, beautifully lived. You are doing the best you can and wow is it inspiring! Love to you and I can't wait to read your first book!

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    1. Thank you, anonymous person of the internets. ;)

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  16. Deeply moving and beautifully written. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, and thank YOU for reading.

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  17. That is exactly how it is. Exactly.

    hugs

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  18. I've been divorced for 14 years...and I remember it all exactly like this. Such sadness that such a "perfect" marriage came to such an end. Sometimes you think it would have been easier if one person was a total bastard over it all. But he wasn't.

    thank you.

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    1. I think it's just hard all around because no matter how it ended, at one time it wasn't like that. At one time, there was happiness and love and potential. And THAT is the relationship we mourn at the end, not necessarily the reality of the one we were in in those final weeks/months/years.

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  19. I linked this for my People In Your Neighborhood post. Thank you for telling it like it was. http://poemsandnovels.blogspot.com/2013/04/people-in-your-neighborhood.html

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    1. Maggie, I can't thank you enough for linking to this piece. I've pulled in a great deal of traffic from your page, I am so grateful to you for sharing.

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  20. Hugs from Wyoming - life can be so very hard sometimes :(

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  21. Once again, you've made me cry. You're a wonderful writer, Jenn. I wish you peace.

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  22. Thank you for putting this so... accessibly. I wish you peace and healing. I wish it for myself too. I also wish I had listened to that small inside voice sooner, but I didn't want her to be right. The comfort and safety: yes. Precisely. But staying nearly sucked my soul dry. I deserved to give myself better than I let myself get. Lesson learned... Please, keep writing things that make me cry? You're really good at it!!

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  23. You nailed it. That's exactly how it is. Exactly. It's been a year (and 6 days) since my divorce was finalized. It's been a very learning and growing year - I've never looked back and never want to. Cheers to all the and wonderful chapters ahead!

    Jessica

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  24. Crying as I'm reading this. I don't want to go to court on the day it's all over and mentally relive all those events. I'm only two month in to finding out about my husband's affair. i'm still in the angry stage. http://dowehavetotellthekids.blogspot.com/

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  25. wow Jenn .... you touched on so many emotions. I haven't been married and have no children but you give me such a sense of what you were feeling and going through. So much insight into the whole awful process and everything surrounding it. You have such a way with words <3

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  26. This post drew big, heavy tears as I relieved the pain of divorce with you. You couldn't have painted it better. The rawness, the numbness, the agony and bitterness of remembering the sweet....it's like being clocked in the head by a baseball bat...a shitty, horrible, baseball bat and the stranger who was once the love of your life is holding it. Well done sister <3 You got through this and I know that you have the obstacles ahead of you beaten as well...they just don't know it yet. My prayers are with you Jenn.

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