Every now and then someone asks me deep questions about my divorce, which happened exactly and painfully on DEC 18, 2018. My perspective on this life event changes day by day, week by week. The experience has opened a spigot to the grief inside of me. I suspected it was there. But I had never tapped it. My emotional position toward my divorce, especially when I talk about it with other people, is unpredictable and often surprising. How do I feel about it today? WHAT will come out of my mouth next?
From what I can intuit, curiosity about my “divorced status” comes from a few different places.
The most neutral motivation for divorce q + a is friendly curiosity. Some folks just really want to know how I’m doing. No personal baggage attached. This is very kind and much appreciated!
A second motivation is to offer (spiked) sympathy. Sympathy can carry hidden judgment, regardless of kind intentions.
“How are your children?????”
[subtext] “They are so fucked up, yo!”
“You have FUCKED UP your kids.”
“How are the poor little ruined darlings?”
After a while I stopped answering. I just turned it around.
“How are YOUR kids?”
Most married people are terrified by the topic of divorce. We don’t discuss. I’m totally okay with this.
Other divorced people of course love to bring it up, but they’re living their own specific version of the same general thing. I call these people members of my graduating class. My classmates can do more harm than good for me, because every divorce is a goddamn snowflake. And I took mine very, very hard. Harder than almost everyone I know. This doesn’t mean it was a mistake. But I was “operatic” about it (according to friends).
The most interesting questions come from unhappily married people. When people in crumbling or struggling marriages ask me about my divorce, I shy away. If I do answer, they whip out a stenographer’s notepad and start jotting down notes. Not literally, of course. But that’s the energy. These friends are doing research. They are NOT SURE. Am I a candidate for divorce, or not? Would I survive a divorce, or not? Can I stay married for ONE MORE FUCKING DAY?
On the fence! I was there. For years. It sucked.
When we were still married, my husband overheard me grilling a recently divorced woman at a party. He accused me of “doing research.” Well, yeah. I guess I was. How do you get through a divorce without dying? That was my question.
I took the leap, and it almost killed me. Or it felt that way. (Cue La Bohème )
I don’t want to influence scared, suffering, about-to-get-divorced-or-maybe-not people who ask me questions. But I did document much of it here on my website and in my storytelling adventures. I was making weird, desperate videos for The Atticus Review all through 2018 and 2019. I freaked out for all to see. My two years of creative despair are available on Youtube.
Here’s “The Manatee.” I’m offering a two-minute version, and another that is more like eleven minutes. “The Manatee” explains how we made the decision to get divorced. Technically, I made the decision. But if you have a habitually passive partner, then the not-doing, and the not-saying, and not-deciding is as effectual as the doing, saying, and deciding. Still, I take full responsibility for the decision. (kind of)
ich liebe dich arigatou que pasa au revoir