On September 2, 2015, I received my divorce decree. The date stamped on the paperwork reads August 31. While the date matters when I fill out an application for health insurance or complete some other paperwork, the experienced reality of divorce is that it's a process. I feel like it's been going on since my now-ex-husband asked for the divorce at the beginning of May.
Only now, almost four weeks after the decree landed in my email inbox, do I feel a sense of closure. Although, honestly, I suspect that like many other situations of grief, I'll deal with many feelings over and over again.
As I reflected on my situation over the last few months, I realize that, even though I'm human and feel many things, the divorce process introduced me to feelings never felt with such intensity. This might be the most personal post I've written. But, as a writer, and one becoming more comfortable with who I am, getting it out there feels like the thing to do.
I've felt anger before. But never unadulterated rage. It only happened once, on one day, but it was intense and lasted for quite some time. It also manifested in a profanity-laden tirade. But the important thing is that my son was nowhere near at the time, and most of the rage was directed at my ex. Who was good about it.
There are times I feel frustrated, and I spent several weeks in “bitter and sarcastic” mode. But I never felt rage like that before (or since) and I can't describe it meaningfully because I have no true frame of reference for that level of negative emotion. I hope never to feel that way again.
Yes, I've had times in elementary school when I've felt friendless or been made fun of. And I've felt first-world teenage drama. But I've never actually felt truly unwanted. Even when my college boyfriend broke up with me (the first time I've been dumped), I didn't feel totally unwanted.
Probably something to do with the end of a 13-year marriage. I don't know. But the reality is that I tried very hard. I made a few changes to how I react to things and did my best to improve, but it didn't matter.
It also occurred to me that I'm too independent, opinionated and driven. My ex is a true feminist, but his emotional needs didn't match with what I offered, no matter how hard I tried to adjust. But the other side of the coin is that he didn't feel the need to try. He said it wasn't fair for me to try so hard — and he was right. It wasn't fair for me to try so hard when he wasn't making the same effort.
I still feel this a little bit. Bottom line: Person who knew me the best ended up not wanting me. That's baggage I'll carry around for some time. Are there people who like me? Love me? Yes. I know that because of all the great help and kindness I've experienced in recent weeks.
Many of these people who love me say, “You'll find someone else.” Right now, I'm not sure I will. And I'm still too scared of rejection to find out.
This is probably the issue that will most impact me going forward.
I have no problem with alone time. In fact, as someone on the introverted end of the social scale, I need alone time. I've been alone before. But I've never felt lonely until now.
In order to assuage some of the loneliness, I'm becoming more involved in my local community. Which is good. I want to be involved. I've always wanted to be involved in worthwhile causes, but so far I've mostly supported causes I believe with cash. I like the idea of involvement at a personal level.
I used to have no problem sitting at the computer all day, but now I feel something is missing. My perceptive mother pointed this out: “You've always had adult companionship in the evening. That's the difference.”
I love my son. He's a cool kid. But it's not the same as living with an adult. And it's lonely. I don't watch much TV, but for about two weeks, I constantly ran sitcoms I didn't even like — just for the conversations and relationships. Now I just watch TV with my son in the evening, and it's drama, not sitcoms, thank heaven.
I miss the adult companionship. We'll see what kind of fun mix that is with my difficulty with trusting myself as someone to be wanted and the difficulty associated with trusting someone else to want me.
Hey, if you've made it this far, congrats. It's been kind of a downer, I know. The good news is that the last two experiences are positive and healing.
I've never really let go. I've always kept some measure of decorum and remained bottled up. Also, I've always been responsible. Last week at FinCon, I was able to lay down some of my responsibility for a few days. I needed to be away for a time. A wise friend told me that through this situation, I never let myself go or allowed myself to break down. I was so worried about giving my son and me a new start, maintaining my work, moving across the country and holding it together in general that I never had the chance to let go.
FinCon was a safe place, where I felt surrounded by friends, and I unloaded. Thank heaven for people who would let me say what I didn't say for more than four months. By the end of FinCon, I moved beyond bitter and sarcastic. Am I still frustrated sometimes? Do I struggle? Of course. I'm sure I will for some time. But letting it out and letting go, and having a break from all the responsibility weighing on me was therapeutic. I've never let go like that before, and I'll probably never let go like that again.
But it felt good, and it was exactly what I needed.
Even the part where I cried a lot.
The amount of emotional and physical support I've received in the last few months has been overwhelming. I've never felt this before. I've never allowed myself to ask for help and comfort like this before. Old friends have helped with my son, welcoming him into their home to take some of the pressure off me. My parents have been amazing, taking care of my son and me and helping us with so many things. My ex's family has been supportive. I've got a cousin who has been a great friend and ally.
And I know that I have really, really, really good friends.
Through the healing power of lots of hugs, lots of talking and the knowledge that even when I feel lonely I'm not actually alone, and that there are people who want to help me succeed, I'm in a better place.
I think there's still work to do.
But I don't have to do it on my own.