I never planned to divorce, which, until recently, completely flies in the face of how I attempted to conduct my life: lots of actuated and accomplished plans. High-School-check. College-check. Find self-ehhh, kind of check. Find wife-check, (then uncheck). Have meaningful experiences-check. Live happily ever after-check?
Maybe what I should have made as my goal was say something like: give oneself over to love, completely and utterly, and then keep on doing that until you learn everything that you've simultaneously always/never wanted to know about yourself and others. Check on that. Double check. More checks to come. The thing is, with my former wife, I held onto that love with a kung-fu death-grip for maybe slightly longer than I should have, but I really had no way of knowing that. Like, I could tell you stories...and maybe I will one day, but for now I'll just wax introspective. Okay, maybe a couple of ambiguous details...
The divorce process itself wasn't ugly in that we didn't fight or haggle over money or property. Truth be told, the paper part was relatively simple, even though it took me well over a month to have the emotional presence to read the damn papers. As she was and still is an attorney, she facilitated the technical aspects of the divorce at little to no cost besides processing fees. And although I was profoundly intimidated by the fact that she spoke "legalese" which definitely fueled my paranoia that somehow I was going to get screwed over, she didn't do anything untoward. The fact is that by the time it came to get a divorce, we were both ready. That was, if anything, the easy part. The years leading up to the separation and divorce, however, were the emotional marathon. Several years of emotional distance were followed by a year of couples counseling. Ten months of separation. Finding out who my friends were. Crashing on couches. Escapism...self-delusion...profound desire to go home but not feeling like I had one anymore. Crying myself to sleep more nights than I care to remember. The fact that I got up in the morning and made it to work was enough. I really don't know how I did even that. There's more, of course, but this is the abridged version as I am attempting to close the three year writing gap. Well, I crossed the finish line. And as is the case with most semi-introspective people who go through traumatic events, I feel like I'm a better, stronger person for it. Would I wish it on anybody? Nope. Did I have to go through it? Yup. The following is an excerpt from an email I sent out once we had made the decision:
"Dear Friends and Family,
It is with a mixture of relief and sadness that we write to all of you
today. We have both come to realize that it is best for both of us to
end our marriage. This decision is mutual and amicable. We have made every effort to try to preserve the marriage by seeking counseling over the passed year. Through this process, we have come to realize that while we still love one another, we are not suited as husband and wife. We do, however, have the utmost respect and admiration for one another and will continue our friendship" ... "We have both decided that this divorce will be friendly, dignified, and based on mutual understanding."
Ever the goal maker, I believe that we accomplished what we set out to do. I just didn't know the goal it until later.
No I haven't fled the room, moving from "death grip on love" to "headlock on determinism", but I've realized that free will isn't the only thing out there for me. Who one loves, how one loves, and even choosing to love is anything but simple. Even if free will is out there, it percolates and filters through eons of human evolution, hella genetic code, billions of neurons, and the primordial ooze of relationshops long past.
So, discovering all that very much flew in the face of my life's philosophy. I held onto an idea, that with persistence, I could always make things happen the way in which I planned. This is a good value, perhaps, if not more than a little flawed. It's a good starting out philosophy...but it doesn't make for much in the way of character if I always get what I want...because whether I like it or not, it isn't all about me. The reality is that there are a ga-jillion variables well out of my control and I have to make peace with that. I suppose I could continue to battle. But my hands are tired from my white-knuckling grip. So in making this peace, I have divined a message through the eons of hella genetic code, ooze, and what not. The distance and temporal component of the message makes determining who I should love kind of a mess. But the message is clear: I get a completely unknown number of years, give or take, to try to love. Love is the mechanism through which I might bring something meaningful in myself and those around me. And I should love completely, utterly, and deeply...
...And yes I have a girlfriend and she's awesome.