Sunday, July 30, 2017

One Decade of Divorce

Monument Valley, 2007

On July 30, 2007 at 7:37 p.m., I sent out this email to my closest friends:

Dear Friends,

I hope you'll forgive the mass email approach here and bear with me.  I
learned yesterday that xxxxx is in love with someone else and plans to
remarry and start a new family.
I wish I could tell you all in person one-to-one over a good stiff drink,
but I'm afraid I'm not up to that at the moment.
What I need mostly is advice, and for those of you who are local a couple
of contacts.
1) therapist for me-not too far west
2) a divorce attorney
I know news like this can shake things up a bit for everyone, especially
old friends.
Thanks for listening.

Wish all of us luck.
I don't think I'll be able to talk on the phone in case you were thinking
of calling.

But just to be clear, my decade of divorce is not counted from the date of the decree of divorce. That happened a year later. And the division of joint assets was not in place until July 11, 2011. So there will be more anniversaries to "celebrate," but to me it's the end of the marriage that is most significant. The end of that 30-year relationship was, for me, a loss of identity and the loss of a family that I loved. This decade since the end of the marriage, I've constructed a new me--a person related to the person I was then, but also quite a bit different. I don't miss the old me. But, if I'm honest, I still miss the family. That us. That unit. I don't idealize it. It was awful some of the time, (as most families are?) but there's something lost that's irreplaceable. It's gone. Permanently.

"Really, do you want that?" I once said to a friend who was playing around with the idea of an affair. "You may never have Thanksgiving dinner with your family again." That and a million other things large and small will happen.

What I regret most is the small hurts that accumulated over the years of my marriage and not really having the skill and the strength to mend them.

I do not want to be a gatherer of small hurts.
I do not want to be a deliverer of small hurts. 

The beginning of this last decade was almost insurmountably difficult. I remember every kind thing, dear family and friends. Cups of tea, glasses of wine, home-cooked meals, your hospitality, your love, your words, your open ears, your waiting arms. I slept in so many comfy beds under so many roofs. You walked with me, drove with me for thousands of miles, held my hand on airplanes, sat with me in hotel lobbies and in parked cars, and sang to me. You told me things would be okay, and somehow, somehow you made me laugh. I have lived my life this past decade because of your help. My life has been a litany of love.

Thank you.


Ms. Moon said...

Another beautiful post, Denise.
My grandson knows my ex-husband and he knows that we were divorced. We still all get together for things and are all friends. Good friends. And yet, when Owen asked me a few weeks ago what it was like to get divorced, I said, "Terrible."
And it was. As many fences have been mended, as many new good memories have been made, as wonderful a life as I have made with my now-husband, as wonderful a life as my ex has made with his now-wife, I still look back on that break-up of my family and I grieve.
There was love. There was a family. And as wrong as so many things were in it, and as right as so many things are now, I still mourn what was, even as I celebrate what is.

37paddington said...

And here you are, proof that there is life after things fall apart. I admire that letter, it's clarity, its refusal to look away.

S Kay Murphy said...

Thirty years is a long time to share life and life's history--daily, memorably, monumentally, trivially--with someone. It's hard to let all of that go... or at least, to find a place to keep it so that it won't be obvious but you can still gaze at it from time to time. You are so strong, so brave, so brilliant with your words, and so amazing. Thanks for showing us the way.

Red said...

A beautiful and heartbreaking letter, Denise. I have experienced two divorces. I know the pain. My heart is with yours.


Elizabeth said...

This post moved me beyond words. I cannot believe that a decade has gone by since the beginning of that terrible period. I am so grateful for YOUR words, your love, your person. May the decades ahead be filled with love and family and richness that you had no idea was coming!