Sunday, April 7, 2013
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.
you are divorced.