When does this get easier?

After 22 years of marriage my husband left me more than two and a half years ago. And while I’ve progressed from the early days spent largely in the fetal position on my bedroom floor, eyes so puffy I could hardly open them and spontaneously bursting into big ugly tears several times a day, it’s still hard — excruciatingly hard. I wish more than anything that it wasn’t. I’m angry at myself for still struggling. And I long for a time when I don’t think about my old life every damn day. Multiple times a day, even. Isn’t it about time I accepted this new life in front of me and moved on?

I have two dear friends who are going through the divorce process and we get together frequently to talk about our court dates, court orders and beyond-belief legal fees. We compare notes, prop each other up, and support one another through a life stage none of us expected to find ourselves in. For the three of us, our divorces are all consuming. We get up each day, take care of our children, go to work and tell those who ask that we are okay. But we’re not okay, not even close. We’re scared, angry, sad, anxious, frustrated and, most of all, absolutely and completely overwhelmed.

What absolutely floors me, though, is that from all outside appearances, our ex- (or soon to be) husbands seem to be doing just fine. One has a new girlfriend, one is already — shockingly —  remarried and one may or may not be dating, but seems to be going through life like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Why is that? Why is it so easy for men to walk away relatively unscathed from decades long marriages? And why is it so fucking hard for women to do the same?

I feel like a broken record on this but, seriously, how did I get here? I spent twenty five years with my husband. We worked together in the early years, we bought and remodeled two houses together, we had three children, we endured the founding of three startups, we traveled, we enjoyed each others company….for crying out loud, we spent half our lives together!

The other day I went into a wine bar to pick up a few bottles of wine. It was early in the day and there was nobody in the bar. In walked my husband. We looked at each other, he mumbled something about “how funny” it was that we were both there, then we proceeded to act like perfect strangers. I never in a million years would have imagined the person I was closest to in the whole world would become a complete stranger to me. It breaks my heart in a way that it’s never been broken before.

I’ve spent the past 20 years taking care of children, and the last 12 working in education so that I could be available when my kids were home — especially because my husband traveled regularly for work. My youngest child is now a senior in high school. I expected to be using this time to be plan for an empty nest with my husband. This was to be that magical time we’d been looking forward to during all those years our evenings and weekends were devoted to soccer practice, gymnastics meets and marching band rehearsals. I pictured us spending more time tougher, traveling, going away for weekends, having wine and cheese for dinner. Instead, I’ve taken a full time job as an admin at an architecture firm so that I have health benefits when my divorce becomes final.

It’s so easy to feel sorry for myself these days and I really need to stop it.  It’s time to look at the other side of things. I have 3 children I adore who have grown into amazing adults I truly enjoy spending time with, I have friends who have been by my side for the good and the bad — one even hired me to work as her admin, trusting that I could do it, even though I had no applicable experience. I have family who have dropped everything to help me out when I’ve needed it the most. And although my financial situation has changed drastically, I still have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food to eat and a pretty damned good life, all things considered. I can’t wait for the day when all of those things are what I think about when I wake up in the morning and when I go to sleep at night, instead of mourning what I’ve lost. It will happen, I know it will. I’m not the first woman to go through a painful divorce and I’m certainly not the last. And this won’t break me, I am too strong to let that happen.


“Never marry someone you wouldn’t want to divorce.”

I kid you not, someone said that to me not too long ago. I shrugged it off at the time and didn’t even offer a response to the co-worker who offered up that pearl of wisdom. She had– surprise!–just gotten married. But just like “don’t go to sleep angry,” the idea is nice in theory, but it’s a complete load of crap IRL. If I had a dollar for every night I went to bed, not just angry, but hating my husband with a burning hot rage.

But seriously, does anyone enter into a marriage thinking about divorce? No, the answer is no. Ok, so maybe there are a few out there who get to the alter and wonder how the hell they got there. But generally we believe that we are marrying the person we’re going to spend the rest of our lives with. We want to be in the 50% of marriages that don’t end in divorce. When my soon-to-be ex husband proposed to me more than 25 years ago, divorce was the last thing on my mind. Although it probably wasn’t the LAST thing on my mind, I certainly wasn’t asking myself how we would treat each other during a divorce settlement meeting, even as we were separating.

Lucky for me, I got the answer to that question today, whether or not I wanted it. And for the record, it was awful. And I say that as a person who can honestly admit that most of my marriage was wonderful. We were great partners, we had and raised great kids, we enjoyed each others company, and shared too many things in common to list here. Wr were happy and we loved each other. But, while he was, for most of our marriage, a great husband, he is a terrible person to divorce. Just awful.

I suppose it’s Pollyanna of me to expect a civil and respectful divorce. Divorce hurts. And while sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who feels pain of going through this, my logical brain tells me that it hurts him too. It’s human nature that when we hurt, we tend to take it out on other people. We do this whether we want to or not, whether we realize it or not. But it still sucks. It sucks a lot.

Without diving too deeply down into the divorce rabbit hole, let’s just say that today’s meeting with both attorneys and the private judge we’ve hired to mediate didn’t end well. Can it ever end well when a 25 year relationship boils down to a couple of spreadsheets and something called the Dissomaster? Again, no. No it won’t. Did I ever expect that the husband I loved for most of my adult life would call me a liar and accuse me of things worse than the meanest girl in my middle school? No, absolutely not in a million years.

Even though we just hit the two year mark of our separation last week, I still wake up some mornings and forget that I’m in my bed alone. I still read articles and think about how my husband would enjoy them. I have to stop myself from calling him up when I have good news to share and also when I need support during the not so great times. Twenty five years of habits are desperately hard to break. Which is why it stings so very much when the person who knows me better than anyone else, better than I know myself even, throws out accusations that are so hurtful and also so wrong.

Of course I wasn’t thinking on my wedding day about how hard it would be to be his adversary 25 years down the road . Nor did it occur to me when we bought our first home or when all three of our children were born, or when our first child headed off to college. I could never have dreamed how bad it actually would be. But would I do it all over again knowing what I know now? Yes. In a heartbeat. I’ll keep wishing for the impossible though, that we can come out of this and be the friends that we owe ourselves to be.