Fex No More

“Well, Cal, it’s a big day.”

Callie did not say much in response yesterday, as I finished getting ready for my day in court. The morning when the IMD was “I” no more. The day the Fex became the Ex. No, she merely meowed, as she always does when I talk to her.

Yes, a big day, after months of little days, lonely days, painful days. In a life of days big and small. I did not, could not, know what would happen after this day, but I knew that come 10:30 am or so on January 26, 2011, I would be divorced.

Again.

That has weighed upon me a bit lately, if not explicitly expressed here at C?WC?. Three times divorced. Three-time loser. Three strikes – as I used to joke when the Ex and I were happy and newly married – and you’re out. I always hoped it would be “Third time’s the charm,” but best-laid plans and all that.

Yes, it will be fun as I tell each prospective new – what? At this age, does it make sense to say “girlfriend?” Is “dating partner” any better? Well, I suppose we can worry about that when the time comes. The bigger worry is, finding someone not put off by that impressive track record of misjudgment and matrimonial failure. Can’t you just imagine the thoughts that will pop up in Ms. Potential’s head when she hears that? How to explain all those defeats without sounding like a total emotional toxin with no known antidote?

I’ve also thought about those unions a lot, and the missteps that led to my enviable marital history. There was the first, the marriage that barely was and definitely should not have been, to the woman whose identity we cannot reveal in any form, due to certain legal niceties. OK, I will not reveal personal data, just my opinion: Asshole.

And number 2? She is the only one I can still call a friend. Would willingly spend an hour or two with, discussing life. She deserved better. I was the asshole. Opinion: A kindhearted soul who is better off without me.

Which of course brings us to THE Ex. No who matter came before her or who might come next, she will be the true Ex. The marriage was so much longer, the emotions so much deeper, the pain of separation so much stronger. Not much to say about the marriage itself, or rather, the two marriages: the happy one in CT and the living hell that was the time in Chicago and since. Opinion: Not easily summarized, even now. The still-vibrant anger calls up one kind of sentiment; the lingering sense of connection – but not love – brings another. Wounded. Emotionally wounded. Let’s go with that, for now.

So, D-Day: the minute, detailed, blow-by-blow. OK, that’s too self-indulgent, even for me. Just  the highlights. The weather cooperated, so there was no delay. We sat outside the courtroom, side by side, reading. Oh, a few perfunctory words were exchanged when I got there, but that was it. Then just the two of us, several feet apart, reading. We kept that up as we sat in the courtroom itself, waiting for the judge. I stopped reading and watched the snow that was just beginning to fall. I thought about her, and everything that brought us to this moment. And I laughed, because the silence covering the short distance between us felt so familiar.

At the morning breakfast table, before work – no talking, please, while the Ex reads the paper. And at the end of the day, there was the time needed to decompress, so try to limit the talking then too (I did not do as well with that; all the pent-up thoughts and emotions of the work day, after being home alone in my office, were just waiting to spill out). Car drives? Really, there’s no need to talk, to fill the air with idle chatter. I mean, if you have something important to say….And in bed, after sex. No, no talking. Time for sleep, or if it were daylight, time to get up and do something. But talk, of intimacies, concerns, daydreams? No…

The judge finally arrived and we sped through the proceedings. The Ex took the stand first. He quizzed her about the agreement, which she informed him she had written. With a few questions, she looked puzzled; she didn’t remember the exact terms. It was odd, seeing this woman I once so loved and tried my best to make happy (was the bar set too high or was I just too ill-equipped for the task?), sitting there a little flummoxed. And looking out to me for assistance. “Well?” her eyes seemed to say. “What did we agree to? Won’t you help me?” I couldn’t, of course, because I was hazy on some of the details too; hey, I didn’t memorize the thing, didn’t know there was going to be a test.

But I couldn’t help even if I did know. It would break judicial decorum to stage whisper the answer from across the courtroom. And I couldn’t help for a more profound reason: I was no longer her helper. I would not be there to offer a hand or slip in an answer in moments of puzzlement. I won’t ever again, because the Ex does not want me to, to help or do anything else meaningful in her life. Isn’t that why we were sitting in that court?

But she survived the questioning, I got through my part, and the deed was done. The only real sore spot came when the judge asked if she were keeping her marital name and she said yes. He didn’t ask me my feelings about it, which I had expressed several months before. She informed me in some weirdly extortionary way that it would cost me, if I really wanted her to change her name. Huh? She never explained and I dropped the subject. But knowing this woman is out there with my name, a name she doesn’t really care about but didn’t want to be hassled changing – it still rankles a bit.

We both went to the clerk’s office to request a copy of the decree. We walked out of the building together. We talked a bit about the house. Then we turned and went our separate ways, no longer husband and wife. Though, we all know, that had ended so long before. There was very little emotion that day, on either side. I hadn’t known what to expect from either of us. But really, she had shut down her emotions about me, us, so long ago – at least when she was with me. And I, I think had cried myself out and processed most of the anger and accepted the reality. So what was there to say?

I went home and immediately opened my divorce gift to myself – a new turntable (yea!). Then I spent some time with a friend who had gone through the day’s process herself not so long ago. Of course, few of my friends haven’t experienced it, if not as recently as she or I. At the end of the day, I answered emails and Facebook posts, acknowledging all the kind words from all those friends who have meant so much to me the last nine months. Then, after perhaps one too many glasses of wine – again – I went to bed. I could hear the wind whipping the snow against the windows. I did not think of the Ex. Callie nestled in against me. And I went to sleep. The latest big day was over.

And this morning? Callie was still there. The snow had stopped. The Ex, damn her, had crept into my thoughts. The old sadness and loneliness of so many days during the New Crisis had returned. The day in court is not the end of the process, I see. And this day, after yesterday – it was a just another small day.

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~ by mburgan on January 27, 2011.

4 Responses to “Fex No More”

  1. Day by day you’ll find new happiness and hope of a brighter future with someone who enjoys sharing intimacies. Getting past yesterday was the first requisite.

  2. Very true. Thanks as always for reading and for the continuing support.

  3. That is one of the nicest things you have ever said about #2. I’ll be sure to let her know. Take care, my friend. L

  4. Please do tell her. And thanks for reading.

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