It’s hard to write about divorce without ending up using clichés, so forgive me.
Although there’s a lot of sadness between Sweetie and me, it feels like all of the tension is gone from us. After the drama of breaking the news to family and friends, we settled into what I hope is a grief-muted version of our future friendship.
For sleeping arrangements, we take turns for who gets the bed and who gets the foldout couch. For the most part, we’ve stopped snuggling, even during snooze-alarm time. We still walk around naked in front of each other and she’s still beautiful, maybe more beautiful now that I know she’s got a chance of being happier some day. We got a second air-conditioner so that all of the sorting we need to do can be done in relative comfort.
There aren’t any more reasons to fight, so our time together is punctuated by sad kindness. She still listens encouragingly about everything and still sends luck when I go out on job interviews. If I’m going to aim for independence, I guess I might have to get out of the habit of calling her whenever something electronic isn’t making sense.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but most of what was toxic between us seems gone, and so is a lot of my anxiety and fear, replaced most days by a clearheaded sense of forward motion.
Once I realized we’d both be free to pursue what we really want, I stopped feeling envious of the happy couples around me and started to be inspired by them. In fact, seeing my best friend Angel Face and his new partner in full-on NRE adorableness was part of what prompted me to make the decision. I know love is a long way off for me, there’s so much to take care of first, but most days I’m pretty sure I’ll get there, and it makes it so much easier to just let everyone around me be what they are.
Although most of the time it seems like everything is moving itself forward, sometimes it does get overwhelming to think of how much has to happen to get us safely and happily to the next life. I’m laid off from the school district right now and I try not to get freaked out about how urgent my job search is. I’m pretty great at job interviews but it’s hard not to think about all of the other teachers who are out there looking too.
I look forward to being on my own, having my own apartment, remembering how to rely on myself. I see glimpses of the life that I want, it isn’t too far away, but I know I have to honor the heartbreak too. It was a relief to let go of the struggle, but so sad to let go of the daily life of us. I hope there really are parts of it that we can keep.
I do get scared that I won’t find a job, that I won’t be able to get us where we need to go. For the past twelve years she’s taken care of us financially, but I’ve always been the one motivating us, pushing us forward, and I think that’s still true.
I can picture my own apartment, plants in the bright windowsills, a new bed with flowered sheets. I want to be there so badly but it still feels selfish, it still feels like something can make us stay here. I want to be in the new life so badly, safe and settled in and ready to heal.
Letting her go (and letting go of the idea that I had to change for her) has helped me to appreciate her and what we had, and the friendship that we eventually will have. I’ve been walking through the world knowing there’s always someone to take care of me, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. I’m interested to see what I can be without her over-protectiveness, without her backseat driving, but I’m grateful for how much love and care she’s given me.
This is the biggest cliché of them all, but I did this so that I could learn to love myself. I just need the strength and resources to get us out of here—I need the universe and hiring committees and landlords to cooperate and get us through, to help us to do this big loving thing for each other so that we can both be healthy and free.
Today I decided to just stop, rest, let myself feel all of the complicated things. (And watch way too many episodes of 30 Rock) I’m gonna try to do that as much as I can.
Tomorrow we’re driving up to my sister’s to hug the niece and nephews—I wanted to make sure that Sweetie knows she’s still a part of my family. My mom says to bring as many fireworks as possible, and I couldn’t agree more.