"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
- Anais Nin
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The Big D
There’s a joke that goes something like this:
Why is divorce so expensive?
Because it’s worth it.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Yesterday was the longest, strangest day of my life.
I was wearing the dress I’d intended to wear to my wedding rehearsal dinner three years prior. You know - the dinner that was canceled because Hurricane Irene forced us to bump the whole carefully-planned event up by 36 hours? Anyway…
Yesterday, I had to face a courtroom full of strangers and answer questions about my marriage and how it all went fabulously to shit. I suppose that’s not exactly how my attorney phrased it, but that’s what I heard. Immediately, my mind got stuck on the idea that I didn’t feel it all went fabulously to shit. I felt that most of the time it was all pretty damn good - but something at the core of it went quietly, insidiously to shit. Did I not get to explain that? Should these voyeurs not at least be required to hear the full story?
It seemed not.
Worst of all, there was The Hubby - very, very soon to be The Ex Hubby - sitting next to his lawyer, somehow looking to me just like he did on our wedding day. Handsome and stoic and uncomfortable.
I lost it.
In front of all those strangers, I dissolved into a shaking, blubbering mass of jelly. I had two clear thoughts: one was a wish for instant death, the other was that I must certainly already be brain dead, having applied eye makeup that morning. I looked like this:
"Do you need time?" the judge asked.
A voice barked sharply: “No. I need this to be over.”
It was me.
Snapping at the judge.
Luckily, it seems if you are forty-ish, wearing rumpled Ann Taylor, flapping your hands like a deranged bird and sending mascara down your face in rivulets reminiscent of Courtney Love at Kurt Cobain’s funeral (or, OK, Courtney Love on a good day), you get a pass on some things, even in court.
Ultimately, the divorce was granted, and The Ex (get used to his new title with me) and I did what any newly-divorced couple would do.
With no children - named after fruit or otherwise - we still decided to at least try to replace a negative experience with a positive one. We went out on the boat (his boat, by court decree) and drank beer (his beer) and cast lines into the water. The fish never bothered us.
At some point, it began to irritate me that we were out on the water enjoying a gorgeous summer day as we had so many, many times before. As if we hadn’t just been granted an “absolute divorce” by one stranger in a room full of them. Seven years together. Seven months apart. One hour and fifty-three minutes in family court, and it was done. I tried talking politics, hoping for an argument that would remind me of why we separated in the first place. But The Ex wasn’t taking the bait any more than the fish were.
So we just took the boat out into the chop outside the harbor. I love choppy seas. I always want to go as fast as possible, while The Ex generally prefers to take it slow.
"Go fast," I said.
The man who wouldn’t look at me in court turned to me and smiled. It was the thinnest, saddest smile at first, but it grew. He leaned on the throttle and aimed into the whitecaps.
And I felt the smile creep back onto my face.
In the wake of my divorce, this much I know:
Silence is toxic to marriage.
So is valuing the opinions of others over those of your spouse.
The wolf allegory is true: whichever one you feed will win.
Pop music is also true: sometimes love just ain’t enough.
A man who didn’t understand me worked hard at providing me with the things he thought I needed to be happy. (That’s something.)
I did the same for him. (I hope he feels that’s something.)
There is no substitute for genuine understanding and communication.
The whole “tis better to have loved and lost…” thing is true. You only understand that when you are hollowed-out and broken.