And there it was. A text during my morning conference call.
After 18 years of marriage. 5 kids. It all ended with a text.
“You are officially divorced.”
I wasn’t sad exactly. Or happy. Or anything. Just kind of stunned. Stunned that I was now “divorced.” It had been two years. Two years from the moment my life unraveled. When “we can get through this” changed to “we won’t.”
But I’ve never quite gotten used to it all. Kind of the way, I can’t really get used to getting older. The age I see on those dumb health forms doesn’t seem to really fit me. But it’s true. It’s real. It’s happening. I know because I’ve seen my neck.
I was once told that I wasn’t nostalgic because I’m a purger. I really like to get rid of stuff. But the truth is – I am nostolgic. Just about people. I don’t like to let them go.
And the thing about marriage is that person is in your heart, your blood, your everything. Even if the relationship doesn’t work anymore. Even if you might be happier living separate lives, they are woven into your being. And it’s very hard to let that go. At least for me. I also tend to be eternally hopeful. If we can just get over this, it will be okay.
But you can’t will things into being okay. Or at least I couldn’t.
When I had my first daughter Dylan, I remember being at a playspace and watching a mother of twin babies. It seemed like a lot. She seemed like she might need a hand. To this day, I regret not asking her if she wanted help. I mean, I certainly could have held a baby or two while she went and peed.
But it wasn’t until I had twins, that I really understood. How much more tired you are. How much harder it is. How much you really need someone to hold your goddamn babies so you can go pee.
And it was kind of like that with divorce. I just didn’t get it. Until I did.
I remember one of my friends getting divorced in our early 30s and she said, “It sort of feels like getting in a car accident every day for a year.”
And honestly, that’s pretty much exactly what it feels like.
It’s horrible and emotional and traumatic until one day, you wake up… and it’s a tiny tiny tiny tiny bit better. Am I on the other side of the worst part? Gosh, I hope so. I really think so. I certainly no longer feel like I am in a car accident every day. But the process is a rollercoaster.
It’s hard to read Facebook anniversary posts.
It’s hard when one of my children says to me, “I’m embarrased to have parents that are divorced.”
It’s hard on finances.
It’s just well, hard.
I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone. But if you are at that crossroads, you will be okay. I know you’re shaking your head with tears streaming down your face. I know because that was me. And you won’t be okay until one day, you will be. I did start wearing water proof mascara. I never switched back.
Oh and I now put plastic in the dishwaster.
Rick and I used to argue over whether to put plastic in the dishwasher. I prefered to handwash it because the hot water degrades the plastic and then the chemicals leach into your food. He preferred to throw it in there and hope for the best.
Ironically, once I got separated and divorced, I was so overwhelmed with responsibilities, I no longer had the time or the energy to handwash plastic.
It just all goes in the dishwaster. And now I just hope for the best.
I also really worried that post-divorce noone would ever date me. WHO IS GOING TO DATE A MIDDLE AGE LADY WITH A NECK ISSUE AND FIVE KIDS WHO CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO HANDWASH PLASTIC?! You have to admit, that’s a valid question. Turns out, it wasn’t much of an issue.
And I no longer see divorce as an end. I see it as twist in this life – a life that holds no guarantees. Is this the turn I imagined for myself? Uh… no. Kind of like none of us started 2020 toasting, “Let this be the year we wear masks! And hell, let’s do it in 2021 too!”
But pandemic aside, I feel calmer. I feel more like myself. I feel happier. I feel like I lost track of myself somewhere along the way with all the kids and trying to will my marriage into working. And now I can sort of breathe again. I guess, in the end I found a way to let go.
But I won’t disparage my marriage. Because for a long time I was truly happy. I can’t speak for Rick. But I know we had a thousand million moments of laughter, and happiness over the years. We experienced that wonderment together as we brought babies into this word. There was no one I trusted in, respected or believed in more. And I won’t let the end take away from those years when we were unstoppable.
Will it continue to be hard as we navigate the future, separate but always connected? Yes.
Will it be okay? I’m sure of it. Okay, I’m pretty sure of it.
I don’t have any great takeaways from divorce. Maybe it’s too new?
But I leave you with this. If you ever see a mom of twins, please offer to hold one of her babies. You can tell her I insisted.
Buy waterproof mascara.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
And hold on to the ones you love, and let go of the ones you must.