Privacy has been on my mind lately, and discretion. The breakup of my marriage is the obvious reason for these thoughts. Getting divorced is definitely on my mind, and I have a lot to say about it, but it is a situation that doesn’t only affect me. It’s delicate territory, to write about my experience honestly and without betraying another person’s privacy.
I don’t really have secrets. Sometimes I wish I were more mysterious, but most of the time I will give an honest answer to any questions presented to me. This is a good way to weed out people with whom I would clash on certain hot-button issues, and it is a great way to attract crazies. It might not always be the savviest approach (there’s something to be said for holding a few cards to your chest), but it is simple and easy. No need to remember who heard which version of events; everyone gets the same version, my version. Even the crazies…
So, all this. Eleven years of being together, and then not. Except it wasn’t sudden; it crept up and we ignored it until it was too big to fix. The worst part was having to go through it alone. Maybe I didn’t really have to do it alone, but it’s such a tricky thing. What if you tell your friends and then work it all out? You can’t take back the things you shared: the problems, the tense moments that grow worse in the telling. So instead of sharing with anyone who wasn’t my therapist or my husband, I went through it alone. I probably could have done a better job of talking it through with my husband – the time during which you are trying to save your marriage is not the time to spare feelings – but at best that would have prolonged the process. The end would have been the same. This song says it better than I can:
I’ve learned that a happily divorced person throws people off; we are threatening. I understand. It’s human nature to draw connections with other people and to understand ourselves through those connections. When you’re in a relationship, you don’t want to think about the end of it; you certainly don’t want to cast the end in a positive light. We see divorce as complete, objective failure.
That view is so wrong it makes me twitch. My relationship didn’t fail, it ended. I don’t suddenly regret the time we spent together; I won’t regret it. It’s a part of who I am, an experience that helped shape my life. The fact that we are not together anymore does not eclipse the fact that we shared eleven mostly great years. Our shared experiences are not erased by this. The love that we had does not suddenly go up in smoke. Getting a divorce does not mean that we failed, it just means that we changed.
It’s been a long time since I felt this much like myself. I’m excited for what comes next.