“There’s a Power that moves everything. It pushes the river to sea, and it takes all the years and makes regret into peace. You can’t die alone if you are free. You didn’t mean to, but thank you for showing me.” – Tyler Lyle, When I Say That I Love You
I officially filed for divorce today. The process itself is incredibly sterile and detached. You basically gather all the paperwork, and sign them in front of a notary, and then send them in the mail to your spouse. Then they sign them in front of a notary, and send them back. Next you get the joy of heading down to the courthouse, which is sort of a special version of Hell. I had the pleasure of walking to the courthouse in the rain, which felt fitting. Then you stand in line with really bored, or sad, or angry people who are similarly ending their marriages, or fighting for their children, or suing someone. The entire time I was standing in line I thought “What a bizarre thing this is. Five years ago I stood in a similar line for a marriage license and was surrounded with people who were downright ebullient, and a large percentage of those people will end up in this line at some point.” I don’t say this to sound jaded; it was just a bit of a revealing moment.
I can remember the Sheriff standing guard at the first courthouse joking that they made things easy and put marriage licenses, divorce filings, and gun registrations in the same office. It was a ridiculous joke to make, but I chuckled to myself over it today. Well done, sir. That one really had some mileage.
I did my best to keep it together as I handed my paperwork to the clerk, but didn’t quite manage. I had a decent shot until she noticed my eyes filling up and reached into her purse and handed me a Kleenex; that was my total undoing. I stood there silently and cried as she stamped and organized my paperwork. She handed me a form that told me when I needed to show up in court, and told me that since nothing was being contested I didn’t need to bring my husband. And that was it. Tens of thousands of dollars for the wedding, and the band, and all the guests, and the wine, and the gifts, and the honeymoon, and the house, and all the holidays, and the dog. Reduced to this line, and this paperwork, and a piece of paper that told me when to show up so a Judge could rule that my marriage has been invalidated.
The reason for the divorce, in legal terms, is that my marriage was “irretrievably broken.” When I sent that verbiage to my best friend, she agreed that the language felt a little…stabby. Like, is there a different shade of broken? Where it could have been fixed?
Here is the answer to that, resoundingly: No. And here is a thing that I am doing my absolute best to remember – I made a mistake. A rather large one, I guess, on the scale of mistakes. But I learned an unbelievable amount about myself in the course of my “irretrievably broken” marriage. I am stronger, and bolder, and just downright better because of that marriage. Actually, I guess it wasn’t because of the marriage. It was maybe in spite of it, but the point is that it was my vehicle to becoming better. It forced me to own my stuff, and to own myself, and to love myself so that I could in turn love my world and everyone in it.
When I told my mom I’d filed, she cried, and told me that she’d had a dream last night that he and I reconciled. And then she said something pretty surprising, given that until now she’s been fairly mum on the topic, so as not to persuade or dissuade, I think; she said that it is unbearably distressing to watch your child go through the pain that comes along with this sort of thing, but that it was actually more heartbreaking for her to watch me be so sad for so long. That sort of sums it all up for me, I think.
It’s really difficult to remember when you are mired in the total bullshit that comes with a dissolution of your marriage – dividing stuff up, and selling your home, and moving, and signing paperwork, and trying not to rip your husband’s face off when he doesn’t have the slightest idea how to log into any of your shared accounts because you handled all of that for him, but it’s critical to remember – life is one really long learning experience. Absolutely everything that you do, and encounter, and read, and watch, and laugh about, contributes to that learning, and you can either shut yourself off to shit that is scary and awful and thereby stunt that growth, or you can embrace it, and realize that sometimes things are just going to be fucking terrible, and allow yourself to grow.
This is all I can do right now. It’s a mantra that I repeat to myself when I forget. I learned. I lost some stuff. I was sad for a long time. I laugh a lot more now. I am open, and loving, and growing.
I walked out of the courthouse and it was sunny. Gorgeously sunny, as a matter of fact.
It’s enough for today.