Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"I’m getting divorced.”

“I’m getting divorced.” No matter how many times you’ve said it in your head, the first time you say it out loud is startling. A bit like saying “I have cancer,” people look at you funny; they pause and step away for a moment. Perhaps it’s contagious. Maybe they heard you wrong, or they read it wrong. Because of course, there are folks whom you love dearly and still have to tell via email or text. It’s the wrong way to share that news, but you are exhausted from talking about it. So you just hope they will understand. In fact, you are drained from thinking about it, from living with it. You are so early in the process and yet you are fully spent. So tired in fact, that you wonder if you will ever feel like you again.

You spend weeks preparing to talk to your children, dreading it, agonizing over it and again not sleeping. Because you made them a promise, right? You promised them, as they grew inside you, that you’d never die and that you’d never break their hearts. That you’d walk through fire and into bullets to protect them. And you lied. And you wonder if they will call you on that. And they do in their own way – “but why”, “this is the worst day of my life”, “what do you mean you don’t love each other”, “please say this is just a dream”, “but you’ll be so lonely without each other”, “I never thought this could happen to us, it’s not supposed to happen to us.” And your heart breaks - right along with theirs.

And you wonder how you will survive and if you will be less of yourself on the other side. So many people tell you how strong you are, how resilient your kids are and how things will be better in the long run. You appreciate the affirmation, the love and the support, you really do. Sometimes though, you want to tell them to fuck off. Not because they are wrong, but because today you’ll be happy to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and not melt down. You know they are right. In fact, that it is why you have made this decision. It is the silent mantra you repeat in your mind when your child is curled in your lap on the floor or in your bed at night. It’s the pep talk you give yourself as you look at the mounting dollars this will cost, the friends you will lose or the lawyer you dread calling.

Statistically, 50% of married couples will wind up where you are and yet that does not make a bit of difference to you. This is your marriage, your family and your death to mourn. And a death it is. In Judaism there are rules for mourning – Shiva, Shloshim, Kaddish, Yizkor and different lengths of time depending on who the deceased was. There are no rules for the end of your marriage, no specified time or tradition.

For those of us who need a plan, a path and a set of guidelines for all things - good luck! There is no playbook for this, no checklist. I know. I’ve searched. It does not exist. You begin to make your own and it is long and grows every day. You feel like you are drowning and suffocating all at once. It’s all so new and there’s no path.

There are people though. It’s interesting who you choose to confide in at first. It’s like a clown car of people who have the right strengths, views, open arms, who lack judgment and just make sense for some reason you can’t explain at all. And then it’s out and you wait for the gossip, for the condolence calls and for something you didn’t plan on – those you don’t hear from at all.

You realize that for some it’s a need to take sides – sides that don’t exist in your case. For others, it’s too much. Your choice makes them look harder at their own relationship and question, wonder and fear. That part hurts, but you are too tired to focus on it for too long. The one you really don’t count on though are the people who judge. Those who think you could have tried harder, pushed on for longer or simply that you should sacrifice everything and anything for your children. You resign yourself not to let that hurt – good luck with that too.

You also know that you mean it when you tell him that you want to be friends. That you will work harder at that than almost any other part. That you are committed to it for your kids but also for yourself. Because you love him. No longer in love perhaps, but after half a lifetime together, you simply love him. You love the father he is. You love the story you have written together in that lifetime. You hope you can divorce the marriage, but not the person entirely. You want the memories to still make you laugh together and the future to be able to be shared around the new version of your “family.” You believe that this is possible and make a silent promise to make it so as best as you can.

So it’s out there and you know even if you could take back the words, you wouldn’t. You pray, even though praying isn’t really you. Nonetheless, you ask for strength and sanity and sunshine because the grey is killing you. You lean hard on those you can count on and feel more grateful than you ever have for your family and your friends who are the family you’ve chosen for yourself. You look in your kids eyes and beg silently for the light you know is still there. You cry and you claw and you climb out of the hole every day, knowing if you stumble back in, it’s OK.

“I’m getting divorced.” But it’s not cancer. I am not dying. This was a choice. My life is not over. This too is a beginning.

A very special thanks, to Amy Selling of Lulus and Lattes for posting this anonymously, before I was ready - http://www.luluandlattes.com/2014/02/02/divorce-is-not-dying-it-is-a-new-beginning/


Anonymous said...

Hey Sweetie. Call if you want to talk. You completely nailed the experience in this blog. I get it. Thinking of you, the girls and Jason,


Dan R. said...

You are smart, talented, sassy, and yes, still hot. Just thought you may want to hear those things.

Anonymous said...

Fear and bravery. Vulnerability and courage. Pain and love. All of these things are wrapped into the beautiful, raw emotion that runs through these words. So many of us have felt these same things and have been afraid to say them. You have given life to our fears and our hopes with your honesty, and inspiration as we start our own new beginnings.

May your clown car stay steady down this crooked, cracked highway called life, with just enough swing in the sway bars as you wind your way towards home.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for giving words to what I am going through. I am you-37 yo. Wife, mother of two, full time worker-trying to figure out why the heck this happened to me at this point in my life and what the hell I am doing to myself, my family, my friends. And yes. People choose sides. And you ultimately learn who your true friends are-and it continues to surprise me. And it is terrible and sad. And in the end I suppose we all hope we are better people for having gone through this