Thursday, June 24, 2010

Collateral Damage

 I think it's safe to say that Mr. Ex and I will never have a congenial post-divorce relationship. Whatever goodwill might have been scraped up off the pavement has been washed away by the resentment that's built up over these past three years of his refusal to divide our joint assets. That's a loss--but not a surprising one as divorces go, I guess.
I have mourned the loss of our family profoundly and continue to do so.  No more "the four of us" at holiday dinners, vacations, the celebrations of  the milestones in our lives. We'll never again see a play together or take a walk. This is the aspect of divorce I find most devastating. It even surpasses being dumped for a younger woman. I've lost my family. You expect that in a divorce, right?
But it's the collateral damage that's making my heart ache this week. I didn't expect the grief over the loss of my mother-in-law--and I haven't lost her exactly since we still write letters to one another. But Sunday there's a family brunch  to celebrate her 90th birthday, and I'm not going.
Mr. Ex is going.
I have friendly relationships with all of my ex in-laws. They have demonstrated nothing but kindness and support toward me, but all of us know that it's not possible for Mr. Ex and me to be in the same room. It wouldn't be a birthday celebration anymore.
When I met Mr. Ex, I fell hard. My eighteen-year-old brain/body was certain it was fate. He was my soul mate, I was sure of it, and I remember explaining this theory of mine to his mother. She wasn't particularly impressed. Maybe because she wasn't sure she wanted me to be part of her son's life then. She might have even disliked me when Mr. Ex first brought me home. I was a wild girl tearing up the path her son had been on to become a Catholic priest. We pushed her 1970s Catholic midwestern envelope and insisted on sharing the same bed at her house although we weren't  married. It was kind of a mess. But she made us sandwiches for the road when we left.
My mother-in-law is prim and proper and unapproachable compared to my own wildly extroverted smoking, drinking, swearing, lipstick-wearing mother. I was a little afraid of her in the first couple of years of my relationship with Mr. Ex. Afraid of being judged, I guess. But over the years, we scratched out our common ground. We are both gardeners and have toured one another's yards and gardens with appreciation. We are both writers, simple cooks who love wholesome food, and lovers of thrift (though she puts me to shame in this category because rural Nebraska thrift is not glamor-sated L.A. thrift by any stretch of the imagination.)
I've never ever been to a 90th birthday celebration. I so wish I could be at hers.

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