Deb was standing at the chain link fence in the dirt where the grass won’t grow. We dodged our kids scootering in the alley behind our condos. “Do you want to know the hardest part about being divorced?” I wasn’t certain I wanted to know. I had been separated a couple of months and the wounds were oozing and gaping. I could not handle any more pain that comes with your true love not being your true love. I nodded squinting up at her face for the undesirable knowledge. “The dating.” I felt reassured. I could avoid that.
The new kindergarten teacher and I bonded over divorce and our disdain for men. It warmed our hearts and frozen hands as we opened the car doors at morning carpool. Melinda made me laugh and cry as we welcomed the sleepy elementary schoolers. “Good morning. It is going to be a good Tuesday. You didn’t bring a coat?” She relived the infidelity and therapists, and attorneys as we waved the cars forward. She spoke almost gleefully of hate and ripping his heart out with her bare hands. And the MAN who used so many woefully popular excuses- “if you could only let things go.” “it really isn’t that big of a deal.” “You have issues you need to deal with.” Ohh, those gaslighting assholes.
(And even as I write this, I feel guilty. Is it fair to tell my truth? Is it appropriate to write about such private matter? What about the people who say I overshare and I will embarrass family. Or shed an unfair light on someone. Is it fair to write about my experiences and my heart and my pain and my wonders? Is that fair?)
So nice to find a comrade. We hugged as the bell rang and we were the last ones under the fluorescent lights. We realized that we are the two ends of the divorce spectrum. She is too far on the side of hate and I am too far on the side of guilt and codependency. It is amazing how women can meet and bear the stuff of broken hearts.
I wanted the life long partner. The husband. The dream. The other half. The love sold in Sleepless and Seattle. The old man to rock next to on our porch as we watched grandchildren and drank sweet tea. And I got some really unbelievably good years with him and some really beautiful freaking amazing children. But it is over and starting again seems like the worst idea in the world.
One might think well I want to have sex again or have a relationship again. Could I suspend disbelief? Could I be young and in love? I could worry about dating or meeting someone or learning how to swipe right but my real concern is in the basics of everyday life. I don’t want to make a sandwich for someone.
Saturday rolls around and I am looking forward to a day of relaxation. The kids have had Krispy Kreme and omelettes and the dishes are washed and the day is sunny and I go out and dig up my elephant ear bulbs to plant somewhere else because they are shading my hydrangeas. Breathing deeply with the satisfaction that comes from gardening, I come back in all dirty with the dark dark soil and I want to wash off, drink a diet coke and read a magazine in my unmade bed. Halt. The kids want LUNCH?!@# We just finished breakfast. But I get out the bread and the salami and I count out 6 pieces of bread for the three kids at home. And wonder who likes Duke’s mayonnaise and mustard and cheese and lettuce. The combination of sandwich toppings on three sandwich toppings is not infinite but it is more than I can process on a weekend. The stakes are high. It is insulting to have your mom make you the wrong sandwich with mustard which you have obviously hated since last month. I yell from the front room to the back bedrooms- “George, are you the one who like havarti?”
I don’t want to count out 8 pieces of bread. I don’t want to make another sandwich. I don’t want to fill another glass of ice water. I don’t want to set another plate. I want it to be the four of us- unless of course one of the big kids is home then I want my table full of all my kids and their friends. But I don’t want some guy there wondering if we have Miracle Whip or turkey.
What’s the point?
Every love story you dream about starts with two people foolishly young and optimistic.
I’m 46 and burned.
I shared my most intimate thoughts and feelings and insecurities and he left. I remember thinking when I learned of acquaintances divorcing that these two people had children together. They had gone through pregnancies together and births. I wondered how they got from the miracle of life to separation and sometimes even hate. I mean you go through a birth with someone and you would think it would be safe to assume that this person has respect for you that will last a hundred years. Enough respect to use words when he wants out. I had 5 pregnancies, 5 labors, 5 births, 5 recoveries, 5 struggles with nursing, 5 emotional roller coasters and an adoption with years of waiting and crying and fear that she would never come and then the beautiful bonding of that sweet infant with us, her parents. It seemed to me that kind of making life together, sharing the most intimate and wondrous miracles, cemented two people together. SO yeah I’m not planning on dating again any time soon. I must not understand love.
I’m on the ten year plan. I don’t claim to know the future or the twists my life will take. I abhor the idea now but who knows how I will feel in 10 years. Who knows if I will find someone attractive and agree to make him a sandwich on a Saturday.