Yes, here we are-divorced and 40. I used the term “40” lightly. It’s more of an estimate. I’m actually 41. I know, it’s just a number. So is the number two, as in, “How many times have you been divorced?” My answer, “Twice.”
I hate that answer, “Twice.” It’s a little embarrassing, I admit. I’m trying to move from shame to acceptance, but maybe that’s a little too much to ask of myself too soon. You see, this wasn’t my plan. This wasn’t my plan at all. I’m guessing it wasn’t in your plans either, but here we are.
As a little girl, you imagine yourself “grown up” and married with a handsome husband, 2.5 kids, a white picket fence, a Toyota Camry, and a quaint, little Victorian home picturesquely situated on some Sound of Music green hill.
What you don’t imagine is the worst case scenario coming true. You don’t imagine your husband turning into a complete jack ass, your kids having to move out of their comfortable home and neighborhood, your pristine picket fence getting smashed to bits by a bulldozer, your Toyota tires slashed, and your green hill drying up into a crunchy, brown mound of dead grass.
You don’t imagine yourself in the future scene that I had the horror of living in real life this past fall on the heels of my separation. (We’ll get to that story later.), discovery (Not the legal type which you are likely familiar with if you are going through a divorce, but the find the card from the other woman type), filing (He filed.), mediation (Send in the clowns.), the waiting (Please God, just let it be over so I can get closure, maybe.), the final hearing (I didn’t go.), and the signing of the final decree.
It felt like seven months of holding my breath.
Picture this. It is October, and it’s a Friday. It’s the first Friday of the month, so it’s dad’s weekend to get the kids. In my case, it’s dads’ weekend to get the kids. Two dads, three kids, and a lot of complicated logistical juggling…welcome to my life.
So, there I was, exhausted from a week of teaching seventh graders, trying to be a good mom to my own three, and crying pretty much every second of my waking hours in between those responsibilities. I was devastated at the time. I was heartbroken. I was confused. I felt defeated, but Friday had arrived, and I would at least get a little rest.
It was about 6:00 P.M.. My first ex-husband arrived to pick up my two oldest kids, fifteen and twelve. He happened to show up that day with his newish wife in tow. At this point we’ve been divorced so long it’s not weird anymore, but I felt embarrassed and ashamed that they obviously knew I was getting divorced again. They normally just drive up, the kids jump in the car, and they drive away. Simple, right? It wasn’t simple on this particular day.
I look out of my window and see my ex, the first one, talking to my dad in the driveway. You see, I moved back home and live right next door to my parents in my grandparents’ old house. They are discussing when he can come teach our son how to hunt on the ranch. They discussed, and discussed for what seemed like for freaking ever.
It had been about twenty minutes, and they were all standing in my driveway. I knew my “husband” was on the way to get my youngest daughter, my five year old, and I started to panic. Just seeing my “husband” for the few moments to exchange our daughter was excruciatingly painful.
I was angry, hurt and humiliated. It had only been a month since I figured out he was already in a relationship with another woman while I had been praying and holding onto hope for reconciliation. Talk about feeling like a fool. I did. Every time he came to pick her up or drop her off, it triggered so many emotions.
It was bad enough just seeing him. The thought of having to face him and my ex husband and his new wife plus my shame and heartache all in one place, the one place that had become my hiding place and sanctuary, my home, felt overwhelmingly awful.
I walk next door and stand in the kitchen with my mom, anticipating the impending scene of a convention of the exes taking place at the foot of my sidewalk.
I appeal to my mom like I’m a fourteen year old begging to be taken to meet her friends at the movie theater in town.
“Mom. Seriously, can you please go distract dad and give him the old elbow nudge that it’s time to wrap it up? ”
She is at a loss. Then, what do you know? Here comes the “husband” in all his glory rolling up to get my daughter, and here we all are… together…in my driveway. I want to die or find a very large rock to crawl under.
“Welcome to my driveway! It’s the convention of exes!” I say to him.
This nightmare moment of the reality of my life is so bad, even he who lacks all empathy towards me feels sorry for me. He feels so sorry for me, he actually gets out of his truck and comes to my sidewalk instead of sitting in it and waiting for me to approach as usual.
He takes our daughter’s bag and says, “I’m sorry.” “Wow. There is still a heart in there,” I think to myself. I turn around and march myself into my house, close the door, and begin another crying/questioning Why? Why? Why? session for a few minutes. It’s a horrible, snotty, Kleenex flying until you empty the box and head for the nearest toilet paper roll kind of crying.
The reality is, divorce just sucks. It sucks all the way around. You will cry until you think it isn’t possible to have any tears left in you anymore until one day, you stop. You will stop crying one day. Mostly because he doesn’t deserve the tears and because now you’re smarter than that.
Over the past twelve months, and the past four months since my divorce was final, I have come to see divorce in a new light. It is loss. It is grief. You don’t just, “get over it.” You have to go through it and the accompanying emotions, or you are doing yourself a great injustice. Denial is not your friend, but it may be where you are right now, and that’s okay. It’s where I was for quite awhile. I did not want a divorce, and accepting so much that was completely outside of my control was brutally painful.
I don’t know where you are in the process, but accepting where you are and being patient with yourself is the kindest thing you can do for you. Whether it’s finding yourself doing the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend tango with two exes in your driveway or feeling stuck in the sadness of the loss, remember you are not alone. It feels that way when you are in the middle of a divorce, but don’t believe those feelings.
Believe this… One day you will wake up, and the pain will not hit you like a heavy weight on your heart. One day, the happiness will return and overcome that pervasive feeling of sadness. One day, you will move on. For now, here we are, and we let go and accept ourselves for the works in progress that we are.
We are beautiful, and where we are now is not the end. Where we are now is standing on the shore of a sea of infinite possibilities. Let the waves come. Guess what? You can’t stop them.
Be where you are, even if that is in an ocean of tears. Even though there’s a lot of noise and crashing, if you listen closely it sounds like peace rolling towards you.
Take heart. It’s on its way to where you are.