Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The D Word

I have been counseling a friend as she is going through the tragedy that is divorce. There have been repeated phone calls that start with "tell me this gets better". It does. Not for a very long time - but it does.
Until then we have to realign our lives. We have to decide which of the battles that litter every conversation are worth fighting - which in the beginning I was pretty sure was all of them. You have to get through the anger. At him, at your self, at each other, at everyone. You have to second-guess every single decision you made for the last few years before, during and after.
There will be times when you question if you did the right thing. You will one day look at him and you will remember the reasons you loved him and stayed for so long and you will see the man you remember on those quiet nights when it was just the two of you and you will want desperately to make it work again. And you will think about it. And you will be ready to try again. And then you'll stop yourself and cry. Then the whole bloody cycle starts over again until one time it doesn't. There is no magic potion for this. No way to make it easier. Acceptance comes of its own accord.
You are not the same person when you realize you have survived the night. Divorce changes you. How it changes you and if those changes are for the better or not are completely up to you. There are things you can do to make it easier and things you can do to make the ordeal just a slight more bearable. You can put a salve on a burn and take some of the sting away, too. But in the end the flesh must be stripped and the healing must begin. Until then you are raw. You find yourself wrapped in an intensity of feelings you didn't realize you could be surrounded by. Anger allows you to push through the sadness. Righteous indignation propels you forward for a time. It is a balance to not become bitter. Eventually the technicolor hatred dies down and rationality begins to settle in.
When it is only you two involved you can sever the ties and be done. When there are children you must re-learn how to interact with each other. You must no longer think, act, react about one another as you did as a couple. You can no longer expect the same leniecies or understanding that were once a part of the fabric of your relationship. All the rules have changed. You are adversarial countries negotiating a hostage exchange during war time. Children are the most amazing blessing in divorce. They make you realize where you priorities are and what is and should be most important. They do not, however, make the same realizations or priorities for both of you or at the same time. Again, acceptance will come. Understanding will come.
This is why lawyers are important. They supply rational thought and clear judgment where those involved can not. They provide a voice of reason when your own has gone on hiatus at a rather inconvenient moment. And, if needed, they can carefully and thoughtfully explain that while you may truly want to shoot him in the buttock you can not and will provide you a list of legal and rational reasons why that may not be in your best interest no matter how therapeutic. They charge you a lot to tell you this and other things you don't want to hear. But in the end it will make things easier if you listen to them. They can be worth their weight in gold - sometimes that's precisely their fee.
One day you will be able to admit your faults and realize you are both better off for it. You are bruised and battered and scarred - but you're through it. It does get better.
I was a bad wife to Kraig in the last couple of years of our marriage. I understand my faults and where I went wrong. I can recognize my part in the degeneration and eventual failure of our marriage and I hope that one day he will forgive me.
Kraig was a bad husband to me. I have reached acceptance but not yet found forgiveness. I hope he stubs his pinkie-toe on the corner of something hard every night before he goes to sleep. I'm working on it. I'll get there.