burying a marriage
In conversations the past few days I have told a few people about the finalized status of my divorce (our divorce? "The" divorce? Not quite sure how to say it yet). Reactions have been mixed, which mirrors my state of mind.
Family and life-long friends are sorry to hear the news, more sympathetic than empathetic. Friends I've had for a decade or so are a mix of sympathy but also a bit of congratulations. Acquaintances lean more towards congratulations.
It is interesting to let folks talk. The news gives them a weight of sorts that they need to address. Either relating my experience to their own, or what they heard from someone else, or what they read somewhere.
I tell them I am more sad than happy about things, more of it being a poor reflection on me than anything else. I view it as a failure, not as a success. This is not some kind of win.
Back in February or so of 2021 I had drinks with a close friend. I had been out of my home for 2 or so months at this point and was frustrated with her, angry at the situation, and stuck. He had gone through a divorce many years before I did, so he played out worst case scenario for me: "Divorce: it feels like a death, you'll mourn, it is not easy, but with time the wound, the gap, the empty space, will heal."
When we were just "separated" (i.e. living two completely separate lives except for the co-parenting aspect of things) it was hard for me emotionally. Again, nothing shown on the surface since I find displaying emotion to be extremely difficult/impossible, but on the inside things were happening. It was like having a wound, a really deep cut, that would partially heal with time and then get ripped open again. The hours not in contact with her, not seeing her, not thinking about the past, those were good...I would make progress, I thought, I would enter a personal groove of sorts, even if only for a short period of time...and then she would call, or text, or I would be there in the evening to have dinner, and everything would start all over again. The healing had to go back to the beginning.
For a while, leaving the house every night after saying goodnight/bye to him was like that first night I left: heart wrenching. I eventually became callused to it and now look forward to leaving after saying goodnight to him because when I leave I can breathe again, that's how it feels to me.
And now, I guess it isn't a wound anymore, but a corpse. The death of a marriage.
Even with the ink having just dried on all of the papers, I feel even less emotion towards her than I did the past 666 days, as if a death actually did occur: I do not "need" to care about her like I did in the past because that relationship is dead. Such a strange way to look at it, but, at least a week into this it does feel quite accurate.
Death to me is final for the people who are left behind. When my grandfather died back in 2010 that was it. I remember him from when he was living, I remember what I am able to remember. I don't remember the funeral, even though I spoke. I do remember seeing him curled up in the hospital bed on his last night living with the rage of cancer, he wasn't himself, and so, as much as I wanted him back how I remembered him, how I knew him, I knew that wasn't possible, not at this point, and so I just prayed it would be quick for him. I kissed him on his forehead and just told him to be strong. He died a few hours later and I was glad for him.
But that was it. I think about him sometimes, and I just smile. He was a funny guy. But I don't dwell on it. Not to be too crass, but that box has been buried. And the same type of mental work is how I am viewing my marriage. It is dead now, buried in the ground, and so dwelling on that fact (that it is over) is not necessary, it is fruitless effort. I will and do think about how things used to be, how they were good before they were bad, and I do smile. We did have some good times together. I'll hold onto those and continue to do the work to bury the rest. I won't necessarily forget the bad, but I won't fester on it if I come across a journal entry or a memory comes to mind.
"It is what it is."
Tomorrow is day one…more on that particular line of thinking later.
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