On Monday we got a divorce. While waiting, my minutes-away-from-being-not-my-husband and I sat peacefully and amicably on the back row and watched one father talk about “reunification” therapy (not allowed to see his kids without third-party supervision), and the judge ordering a bailiff to accompany another couple to the hall (because they tend to lose their shit and it gets physical). We peacefully agreed that 1) yes, the marriage is irretrievably broken, 2) yes, we still loved our children and wanted to serve them not destroy them and 3) we had come to an agreement that we felt was “fair and equitable,” (or at least something we can live with) as far as assets, debt and parenting time were concerned.
It was all quite anti-climactic. Part of me felt there should be a Festivus Airing of the Grievances, a form of symbolic closure, a washing of the hands, a formal cutting of the spiritual bonds. Or at least lunch afterwards, “Hey, we’ve been married for 12 years, I forgive you everything and we’re still co-parenting for.ev.er. so everybody be cool, K?” But, I just went to pee and then called him later to ask whether we had time to go to the pool before he picked up Zack.
We “celebrated” by having dates with our children. Ainsley and I had a Mother-Daughter Date and Zack and my now-ex had a Father-Son Date. We went to Claire’s, a crappy Chinese take-out place, and a dollar movie. They went golfing.
I didn’t know what to expect as far as feelings went, I checked in with my own and realized I felt relief. Twelve years is a long time to struggle with one person over the same shit. Too long. Just long enough to feel no more sadness. I’ve grieved plenty over the loss of the “happy family” fantasy during the separation. The worst grief being during the actual marriage. But, I am so grateful that I won’t go to bed feeling desperately unloved, unappreciated and unheard by him anymore.
The next day I felt this sense of being “in flow.” Carolyn Myss, a mystic spiritual writer and intuitive, says the very worst thing we can do to our soul is to betray ourselves. Being married to him for so many years, after I knew it wasn’t the right thing for us, but staying out of fear and guilt and wanting it to work anyway, was so out-of-alignment with being in integrity with my own soul. Then suddenly, I was divorced. The feeling of spiritual alignment felt so new and so ancient all at once. I wanted to swim in it. It wasn’t thrilling, or exciting—it was peaceful. Like I had stopped struggling for air, stopped fighting, stopped suffocating and finally just went limp in surrender to my soul, my spirit.
Hey kids, you don’t think it’s your fault, do you?
Then, I checked in with my kids, having heard that children always feel that they “caused” the divorce by supposed divorce experts, I felt I should address that. To both children I posed the question, “Do you feel like Mommy and Daddy got a divorce because of you or because of something you did?” as sensitively as I could.
Zack was all, “What are you talking about?”
I was all, “Well, you know it’s not your fault, right?”
Zack was like, “Yeah, who’s it it? Yours and Dad’s?!”
I was like, “Yes, exactly.”
Then I was all, “How are you feeling about it?’”
End of conversation.
Ainsley was like, “Of course I know it wasn’t my fault! Seriously?!” as if it was the most absurd thing she’s ever heard, which, of course, it is. The connotation was, “You’re not blaming your lame marriage on me!”
She reacted similarly when found out that her and her brother’s “statistics” had gone down, someone had divulged that her odds of great grades and going to college and having healthy, loving relationships had gone down while her odds of drug use, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and having shitty abusive relationships had gone up— the instant her parents didn’t want to be married anymore.
“Just because you guys get divorced doesn’t mean me and Zack are going to be less smart at school or not as good of kids,” she declared indignantly.
To which I agreed.
Get a Happy Divorce
The summer we lived in Kings Court, a sleazy cheap motel with a pool and slide, as we giddily broke free of East Texas and launched our new lives in Colorado, my sister-wife Jenny, I and our gaggle of children, frequently walked passed a sign that said, “Get a Happy Divorce.”
I think I got as happy a divorce as anyone possibly can. As we were walking one day right after her dad and I separated I told Ainsley:
“You’ve got it pretty great, you know. Both of your parents want to spend as much time with you as possible. You have two parents who love you deeply; who care about your grades; care about who you hang out with; care about what you watch on TV and what kinds of foods you eat; care about your spiritual, emotional and physical health; and care about your future. You have lots of relatives who love you too.
Your parents aren’t screaming or throwing things or calling each other names. Neither of us are in trouble with the law, no one cheated or had an affair, no one did anything unforgivable with the money, and no one is on a reality show.”
She agreed, she’s got it pretty great.
What more can any kid really ask for from life? Lots of kids from married families don’t have it this good.
And then, we went about our lives. They hung out with dad on his days while I went to classes and meditation circles, they played with their friends, I got a little work done and meditated every morning, I hit the gym pretty hard and made vows about cutting out that bowl of popcorn at night, I completely lost my shit about messes in the garage and the storage room and vowed that they were grounded until everything is back in order. In other words, life kept chugging along, like it does. For him. For me. For our kids. Life moves forward.
Prophetic Dreams of Fun
Last night I had a dream that I was carrying superheavy objects (watermelons), pointlessly, from place to place, while my not-husband had a good time with the kids. I was also doing someone else’s work for them, for no reason at all (no, really I actually am). In other words, I was carrying burdens that could be put down now. All the while, there were 999 invitations waiting for my response on Match.com. This afternoon Ainsley said, “You should really go on a date soon.”
How would you interpret that?