My husband and I filed our divorce paperwork yesterday. It was so odd and clinical and businesslike: copies of paperwork and signatures and paying a fee and now waiting for a judge to dissolve the last official remnants of our marriage. We've been separated nearly more than we were ever together, and I haven't said much on this site because it broke my heart. I shared a life with this person, and now I don't. It's for the best: the both of us believe that this is honestly for the best and that we were making each other unhappy and that it was deeply flawed and broken beyond repair. But yesterday was still like tearing off a bandage from a barely sealed wound.
If you take a fall while rock climbing, there's this moment of pure adrenaline before the rope and your partner catches you and you're holding your breath and everything is happening at once so fast in a rush and then all of a sudden you're slamming into your harness and scraping against a rock wall and you're still alive. It's a moment of utter panic and discombobulation and then a sweeping rush of tentative relief. You get your feet under you, and you try to go up again. That's the closest metaphor I've come to in trying to get a finger on how this process has felt. There's the sickening rush, the lack of air, the bone and soul cracking crash into the bottom, and then hopefully the final ascent to where you were trying to go in the first place.
Nobody told me that my marriage would end with a deluge of paperwork and a heartrending series of “what ifs.” If they had, maybe I wouldn’t have been so quick to register for kitchenware, hunt for a white dress. Or maybe I would have pushed on, convinced that my love was one that could weather all of life’s storms, that my relationship would be different than the statistical average.
I’m left soaking in remorse like cold, dirty bathwater and considering how I came to be a cliché. How our story, so sure to be different, ended up like so many others. How you come to share a life and roof and bed with someone you can’t even talk to, who seems like an absolute stranger.
I don’t understand how it happened, how it all burned down and turned into ashes. I don’t know how that blue eyed boy with the beautiful smile who’d I’d later dub panda bear or pocket mouse would eventually only be referred to among my friends and I as “Urdu”- the predictive text version of his name from my phone because I physically couldn’t bear to utter his name. I didn’t know that instead of planning a future, we’d later spend a year assiduously avoiding each other, that a casual run in on my birthday just after our separation would end in a jagged three hours in bed crying before my family party. I didn’t know that I would later feel relieved, liberated, but I’d still spend nights awake wishing that it wasn’t a total train wreck to call or go over to his place, to try again, to start over. I know better, but god, the complete uncertainty. How are you supposed to start your life over without the one person you used to call your best friend?
I still wonder sometimes when I will feel entirely better, when I will stop wondering. I can’t listen to The Cure, Death Cab, Rise Against, I can’t listen to anything from the past five years without tracing the trails that led to our downfall. I can’t look at photos, I can’t hang wall art we had together, I hate the plates and the silverware we bought when we were a couple, and cooked with, and ate on together. I got rid of the sheets, I threw out the t shirts and the underwear you’d seen me in, books you bought me, things that sat where we used to live. I want to know, I want to know how you could leave me, and leave me, and leave me behind. I want to know why you didn’t write, you didn’t call. When people ask, I say I was married, and I leave it like that. “It didn’t work,” is too small in words for what happened, for the heart break and the disappointment and the trying not to call when I get drunk. It’s too small, too neat for the sense of failure, the epic proportion of not being able to get out of bed for a year, of silently mourning behind closed doors, behind people’s backs. It's too small to explain the struggle of trying to perfect an imperfect life for those years and then finally, painfully, letting go.
And that's it. It's fine, I'm fine, he's fine. He still wears the band I bought him on another finger, I'm trying to pull out the black roots that have sunk themselves deep into me. I'm trying to move on, to forget. So life goes on. Sometimes I don't notice, and sometimes my heart still hurts.
I know that's kinda dark and personal and heavy and not at all the usual blog fodder. We'll be returning to our regularly scheduled blog posts again shortly, promise.