So my husband asked for a divorce. I call this a favor because I was frozen in fear of actually taking any steps toward change. We’d been married 11 years, our entire adult lives. I had never lived alone. I wanted the divorce, but I’m not sure I would have followed through with asking for one. When he asked I felt a mix of emotions. I cried. I tried to fix it. The solutions I offered were shot down, and rightly so. We’d been together long enough to know that this kind of unhappy isn’t something you get through, it’s something you leave behind. This was in early December.
We continued to live together through December. We didn’t tell many people until after the holidays because we waited until then to tell our daughter. She took it hard. What 8-year-old kid wouldn’t? I give props to my ex and myself on how we handled this and how we continue to handle this. We sat with her in her bed for two hours while she cried. We both held her. We both told her we knew how hard it was. We both said how much we both loved her. We were present and we all cried together. Oddly enough, it was the first of many bonding moments my ex and I would experience as we navigated separating our lives.
He moved out on New Year’s Eve and I went on a date. It was my first date on New Year’s Eve in about 13 years! I went with the woman I had started dating in November. Hmm, I should probably take this time to explain that my husband and I had an open marriage and no one cheated or lied. An open marriage worked really well for us actually and our divorce wasn’t a result of this relationship style. Anyway, New Year’s Eve… I went to a local women’s dance. It was a great way to spend my first night living alone. Here I was, already starting to identify as a lesbian, out at the lesbian dance with the woman I loved.
Life was, and is, good. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments though. Like when I’m putting my daughter to bed at night and she starts crying because she misses her dad and I wonder for a moment if I’ve ruined her life, if I should have stuck it out another 10 years somehow. Or when I realize that my ex and I may never be able to be friends the way we had hoped despite our efforts. Or when mutual friends appear to have taken sides even though we tried so hard to make it where they wouldn’t have to. Some of this may simply be imagined, but it hurts at times. These are the times when the voice of self-hatred and self-doubt are doing the talking. I try not to listen.
I lived in our house through January then I moved out and my ex moved back in. I couldn’t afford to keep the house. I made the decision to go to school full-time instead of going back into the workforce. I moved in with a friend then moved again 28 days later when that didn’t work out. I now live in a trailer that belongs to my aunt. I don’t pay rent, just utilities, and I get to live next door to my grandparents. This place is full of childhood memories and this turn in the road that led me to living here seems ripe with opportunities for healing old wounds.
Once settled into the trailer it became clear to me that this was my time. My time to figure out who I am, what I want, and how I want to live my life. I made a conscious choice to cultivate happiness and court joy in my life. A lot of people have told me again and again how great I look since the separation. I laugh and say, “divorce looks good on me,” but it’s deeper than that. Some of my friends attribute it to being madly in love with my girlfriend and I’m sure being in love helps. I think the glow people keep commenting on comes from my consciousness to embrace life and to love myself. It’s not easy learning to love myself. Then again, love is never easy.