Friday, August 9, 2013

Divorce Times Week Five: Jumping Out of My Skin and How We Got Here

Everyone, divorce is booooooring. Well, I guess actually it’s the job hunt accounting for the semi-weekly bouts of crushing ennui. Remind me never to take the summer off again unless I have a really riveting reason, like a more-than-two-person family to take care of or a tour of the French cathedrals. Sitting by myself and being a cover letter factory just ekes away at my soul sometimes-thank goodness there have been smutty blog posts to write!

I’m really worried that this process is not going FAST enough. We’ve been trying to think of ourselves as “living with a friend” to take some of the divorce stigma off our list of things to worry about, but I’m concerned that I’m still being much too dependent on her.

I’ve been financially and emotionally dependent on her since just a few months after we got together. When we got engaged, it was 2002. I may have been craving safety, but so was everybody in the country. Did I just blame my semi-failed marriage on 9/11? No, but it feels like it fits. She and I were actually at the same peace vigil a few weeks before we met. With even my most liberal friends spouting jingoistic threats, Sweetie’s proclivity for tie dye seemed forgivable, almost preferable.

I’d also just moved back to the East Coast from California, and I missed my poetry friends so badly—I really needed the move to have meant something, for the sacrifice to be worthwhile. In the end, of course it was.

It was six months before we moved in together, but we had the emotional equivalent of the old U-Haul joke even earlier on—on maybe our third date (On the couch, where so many of my good dates happen…) I let the phrase “soul mate” slip out. The first time she really opened her mouth and let me kiss her, it was one of my top five religious experiences.

I was literally in the middle of a panic about career and money when she produced a tiny sapphire engagement ring. She’d bought it very soon after we’d started dating. That “let me take care of you” situation is not usually the engagement story we tell—we officially proposed under a meteor shower on her birthday (coming up this Sunday, as a matter of fact) like any respectable poet/philosopher pair would.

So our relationship was definitely about love, but it was about security, too. I had a deep need to finally be taken care of. After my fucked up childhood and ten years of attempted adulthood, I felt like I deserved someone who would seek me out to bring a coat when it threatened rain, who would drive around talking for hours. (Often about boys, little did she know that’d be her life for a long time…) I felt bedraggled and spent, and there was something pure about her that I loved and aspired to—she seemed redemptive somehow, and I guess she sort of was, except I didn’t really need to be redeemed.

The fights started pretty soon after we got together, but she’s also deeply loyal and she supported me while I dawdled through my undergrad years and went on to be a full-time writer, supplementing our income a little with part time retail and teaching artist jobs. She’s worked millions of hours for us, making almost all the money for all but the last six months we were together. During fights, she would threaten me with homelessness from time to time. I felt like I contributed in the usual housewifely ways and I definitely provided us both with a social life, but I’m ashamed that I didn’t build more for myself over the years, that I let myself depend on her so much.

Fast forward to two nights ago, sobbing on the floor because it was one of those grief-sneaks-up-on-me days where I’ve lost hope of ever finding a job or moving ahead or ever being worthy of love. Those days only come about once a week, and they’re getting less intense so I am not worried about my mental health just yet. She helped me through it, telling me again and again that I wasn’t worthless, that our situation isn’t permanent, that it would all work out—all the things I believed so joyously when we first made the decision to split. I feel so guilty for still needing her help. I shouldn’t need her to tell me that it’s gonna be okay anymore. But twelve years is a long time to have been in the habit of needing her, and it’s proving trickier than I’d hoped to get out of the habit, but I am trying.

Eventually the tears subsided and we sat down to an episode of Project Runway. Nothing like an Unconventional Challenge to lift the spirits of two poor sad ladies.

Every dollar I save, every new thing I try, every time I write out the feelings instead of calling her at work or take the bus instead of calling her for a ride, I’m trying to create a more self-reliant version of me. I just feel like it’s taking way too long.

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