Not-So-Happy Anniversary

Facebook did the courtesy of reminding me that seven years ago today, my divorce was finalized. Not that I really needed a reminder; many of the dates from that relationship have lodged in my memory, marking events good and bad.

The FB post showed what I wrote after I left the courthouse on that snowy Connecticut day:

“Done.

Where’s the scotch?”

scotch

I’m sure it wasn’t as classy as this.

Sound flip? It wasn’t meant to be, just a reflection of the emotional exhaustion I was feeling after Heads Up Day, and the Cruise from Hell, and the Summer from a Deeper Hell (excruciating heat AND bedbugs? Sign me up!), and all the other twists and turns that led to that quest for hard liquor seven years ago.

I’ve written about some post-marital dissolution feelings here before, and I’m sure no one is looking forward to more of that. Well, tough. If a blog devoted to midlife crises and middle age and aging in general can’t go there, what’s the point of having it? And there’s always the infinitesimal chance that some of my experiences and observations might help others. OK, even those odds are probably off. But maybe one person who has gone through or is going through a divorce will see some facets are universal, and take some comfort in that.

The post-divorce relationship with the Ex has been odd at times. Extensive contact as we dealt with selling the house before I moved to New Mexico. Occasional long-distance contact after the move. A year with no contact, which I initiated. Then, a burst of intense contact three years ago, culminating in our seeing each other for the first time since my move. We still could have a good time together. We could still make each other laugh. We still had some feelings for each other, though mine were deeper. Too deep for my own good. Hmm, I wondered, could we reconcile? Could we use what we learned from each other in some of our most honest conversations in years and find a way to make it work? Could we move past the hurt we had each felt, each caused the other?

Nah.

Not that I didn’t want to try, if she were willing. I read articles about couples divorcing and remarrying, the odds of better success, or not, the second time, the absolute need for therapy to make it work. But there was no going back for her. She, I knew from the day she told me she wanted a divorce (May 6, 2010—coincidentally, our 10th anniversary), that she was resolute. She was done with us. With me.

duran

OK, he actually didn’t say, “No mas”–but close.

I won’t go into the details of why I think we reached that point in 2010. I do think we both contributed to the problems that led her to say, à la Roberto Duran, “no mas.” But I think there are some generalities that might come into play with many divorces. One or both spouses gets into it too young, before they know who they really are or what will truly make them happy. One or both checks out emotionally at times, or demands too much of the other, or stops listening to what the partner needs. Or the partner doesn’t really express those needs, and resentment builds.

I don’t think any of those conditions on its own necessarily gets you a ticket to Splitsville. But throw them all together, and…well, we saw what happened seven years ago today.

The ex and I have not seen each other in a little more than two years. No calls. She sends a random email now and then. I respond civilly, but I never reach out to her. She understands, I think, that it’s not out of anger. It’s because it would be too easy for me to feel a rekindling of emotions even now, even as she enjoys a new relationship, a new life—one that makes her happy. I certainly don’t begrudge her that (and I know everything is not always peaches and cream for her).

Seven years. I’ve heard—and there’s a good bet it’s one of those things people say and pass around but that has no basis in fact, but what the hell—that our body creates new cells every seven years. Not in one day, of course, but over that period, so that the me of today, on a cellular level, is totally different from the one who sought scotch to take the bite off the legal proceedings. Do I feel different? Not really. Same vices, same neuroses. A little creakier in some of the joints, though maybe overall in better health.

There is a flipside to the divorce. Over those seven years, I’ve thought often about the opportunities I’ve gotten because of it There are people in my life, important people, who I never would have met otherwise. I never would have moved here and had the adventures I’ve had and taken photos that I love, or had the great theatrical opportunities. I wouldn’t have found this spot that so feels like home.

I haven’t gone for the scotch today—not yet, anyway (hey, it’s not even 10 a.m.). Though I did have a craving for sweets that led me to the open bag of chocolate chips in the pantry (see, vices—and that’s a tamer one). I do feel a little bit of melancholy as I contemplate this anniversary and the memories good and bad that I still linger over—memories of times with someone I was ready to spend my life with. But, as I thought when I came up with the title for this post, there was a fitting subhead: “But Things Could Be Worse.”

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~ by mburgan on January 26, 2018.

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