“A lot of us are watching you and your ex; watching how you handle this, how you pull out of where you are and become who you are supposed to be.”
I take it as a subtle warning to be careful what I share.
I take it as an encouragement to be myself, no matter what.
I have nothing to lose.
Being divorced. It’s weird, but also fine.
The truth is, I don’t always know how I’m handling “this”. It’s not as if I’ve ever done “this” before, or had an example modeled to me. I only know how it is—how I am—in each moment. Sometimes I’m great; other times, well, I’m not. I’m a terrible liar and an even worse small-talker. Ask me the right questions and I’ll tell you anything. Or just ask me how I am, and I mean, be generally curious, and chances are I’ll tell you.
“This” is a thing people do all the time. It’s weird, but also fine.
When I walk to my car to go to work in the mornings, or I walk from my car to my apartment in the evenings, I repeat a variety of statements to myself—out loud—to acknowledge and accept new definitions of who I am now. Definitions I chose when I decided to do “this”.
(My therapist doesn’t think this is healthy. Which means it’s definitely not. But I can’t stop my brain from doing it.)
I am an ex-wife.
I have an ex-husband.
I am no longer a spouse.
I am divorced.
I’m a divorcée.
I’m not married.
I am single. One person.
Being divorced is always on my mind. I hate it. But it is what it is, and it will be this until it isn’t. It’s a wave I roll with. Some days I float, other days I tread water tirelessly, looking for the shore. I don’t always find it. Sometimes I’m swimming as if my life depends on it, unsure of the direction I’m heading and where I’ll wind up. On the worst days, I let myself drown. I sink to the bottom where it’s quiet and nobody can find me, or hear me when I scream. It’s on these days I cry my deepest sobs in the shower.
It’s an adjustment not to have a person anymore; someone to go home to, to fall asleep beside, and wake up to. I don’t have someone to witness every quiet aspect of my life. Those quiet things are now secrets. I wonder if I do things out of habit—habits bred during an 11-year marriage, a 16-year relationship—that someone on the outside looking in, someone who doesn’t know much or anything about me, might find strange. I wonder what is me and what was him. I wonder if there are things I do now that I never did when I was married; those are the things that are fully me.
I can say for certain that I talk to myself, and my cat, more.
Social media is a landmine.
I’ve spent hours deleting photos and removing tags, and still Facebook drops memory bombs on me. I see his smiling face leaned into my smiling face from however many years ago and I stare into my eyes and wonder what I might have said if future Liz appeared to me then and told me I’d be getting divorced at 37 and figuring out how to start over. I wonder if I would’ve believed her. I probably would’ve scoffed, shook my head. There’s no way. There’s just no way.
I am far from who I have been for so many years now. It didn’t take long for me to get away from her. But she still haunts me, because she comes with him. I like ghost stories, but these keep me up too late and I fall asleep with my strung up lights still on, twinkling in the dark.
When I was young, I never thought about getting married. At some point I stopped playing house because I couldn’t imagine finding a person I would want to see every day for the rest of my days. Even still, my biggest fear back then was never being asked for my hand in marriage. I didn’t want to never get married because no one ever wanted to marry me. I wanted someone to ask me and I wanted to say no.
Now my fear is different, because I did the thing I never thought I actually would. Now my fear is that I’ll meet someone else and wake up in 11 years suddenly aware that I did it again—that I lost myself in another person when that person never asked me to in the first place, and I’ll be a version of me so unfamiliar that I’ll need to leave and start over again. I’ll be a version of me they never fell in love with.
It was always me he was in love with, but I discarded her before he ever did.
And now I’ve said too much.