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Happy New Year

March 3, 2015

One problem with waiting so long to update this website is that I am never sure, when I finally bite the bullet, where I should begin. Since this was, or nominally is, a divorce blog, should I start with the news on that front?

There isn’t any. Truly. I have nothing to say. This is quite wonderful when you think about it: I remember when I gnashed my teeth about the divorce more or less continually, and it was exhausting and tiresome, and when I wasn’t actively gnashing I was begging someone to tell me when–whether–the dreadful feelings would end. Friends, I am here to report that divorce is just like anything else you do long enough. Eventually, you get used to it.

Would you believe that I hardly interact with my ex-husband any more? That I don’t talk to him much, that I go entire days without even thinking about him? All that rage and guilt and sadness seems either to have evaporated or to have been absorbed. (It has occurred to me, actually, that maybe I’m just some creature tempered in bitterness now. How could all those bad feelings, all those bad years, simply dissipate? Surely they’ve left their mark. But even if I am nothing more than the sum of all past nastiness, I’m used to THAT now. I’ve acclimated. I can’t quite remember what I used to be like, and that–I won’t lie–is extraordinarily restful. Who cares whence this peace comes?)

There are fewer kid issues to transact now that the big one has gone off to college, fewer games or plays or what have you for both parents to attend. The switch from one house to another is accomplished via my son’s school–on Wednesday afternoons he goes straight home to his dad, and comes back to me either Friday or Monday, depending whose weekend it is. My ex-husband and I scarcely email. There’s seldom much reason to text. Moreover, he lives much farther away now, which is (as I feared) inconvenient if cleats or piano music or shinguards are forgotten, but the hassle is totally worth it. Had I known how amazing it is, having him forty-five minutes away on the other side of the world, I’d never have complained, not for a second. Whole days go by during which I hardly even remember he exists.

But the big change, of course, is that he’s remarried. His whole center of gravity has shifted, and he has a whole new life. A whole new life is a big deal for anyone, but I think it’s a bigger deal for my ex-husband, whose particular personality changes so much depending on whom he’s attached to. He was a lot like me when he was married to me; now he’s a lot like someone else. When he was a kid he worshipped his older brother and wanted to be just like him. In college, before we met, he had a girlfriend for three years; while they were together, he wanted to be just like her. At our wedding, his mother made a long toast about how surprised she had been to get letters from so far afield from her homebody son; this was me, of course, rubbing off on him.

This is why we got along. (Not the ONLY reason why, of course.) I’m bossy and pushy and overwhelming, and he’s delighted to be bossed, pushed, overwhelmed. His new wife–his wife, I should say, not “new” wife, just wife, no need to qualify–is now his reference point. Everyone changes over time, and everyone changes in relationships, but he has truly shed whatever past we had together, shuffled it off in favor of a brand new life. He’s someone different now. I don’t feel I know him any more. Which is wonderful. I devoted a huge amount of mental space to thinking about him, while we were together and while we were apart, and now that space is mine again. How odd it is to say this–there are many times I can hardly remember what it was like to be married to him.

Actually I can’t quite remember what it was like to be married to anyone, in all honesty. I’ve been separated for seven years now. I never even think about it. It seems completely normal to me to run my own show. That horrible postapocalyptic loneliness I thought would never go away? It went away. And I don’t feel so angry and guilty any more about the breakup, either. I don’t feel like I have to blame or excoriate my ex-husband, even privately. We had some good times together, some very good years. We were actually in love once, and I can remember it without feeling the need to sharpen my teeth. Having a life without him has made me much more serene about the life I had with him.

So, you know, I’m not constantly updating this website with all my really important thoughts about divorce, because these days I don’t really have any. But isn’t that a relief? Isn’t it good to hear? When I first separated, all I wanted was to believe that I’d make it through. I tried and tried to remind myself that billions of people get divorced, that it’s boring and commonplace, that they survived and that I would too. And look what happened!

I feel like it’s such a good place to close the blog, but I’m not going to. I’ll post from time to time–I feel guilty about not posting more, but honestly, I don’t have that much to say. But there’s this: Almost every day some poor soul reads the whole blog from start to finish, according to the stats WordPress provides, and I’m moved by this…some poor divorced or about-to-divorce woman who found her way here. I was that woman once, up late in the guest bedroom, miserably Googling.

Now I’m someone else.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberta permalink
    March 3, 2015 12:15 pm

    Just a quick “thank you” for the occasional update! I was the one reading from start to finish, 3 years ago. Then, I was desperate; even now, hearing from someone a bit further down the road is lovely. My ex seems to be on a similar path to yours: he still lives too close (4 blocks, so I either pass his apartment constantly or find ridiculous alternate routes) but his girlfriend lives a two hour flight away, and I’m constantly expecting that he’s moving and/or getting hitched. (It will suck for the kids. But for me, all upside.)

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 3, 2015 8:48 pm

      It makes me really, really happy to hear this. And the new girlfriend thing might work out for you and the kids…maybe she’ll move closer, and then they’ll move just a bit farther? (I didn’t realize how much I disliked having him close by–half a mile, then three blocks, ugh–till he left.) My kids’ new stepmother used to live and work a five hour drive away. Then they got engaged and now she’s here, and we’re actually happier. All of us, the kids, the ex, the stepmother (I assume) and me.

  2. March 3, 2015 2:54 pm

    Great to see you back and feeling so positive. You sound at one with yourself. That is fantastic!

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 3, 2015 8:44 pm

      Reading this next to the last entry I had to laugh–it’s such a contradiction, and if you read them without the six month gap you’d think the person who wrote them was schizophrenic. “When will I forget him?” “Hey, I’ve forgotten him!” I wish I had fudged a bit before posting, just for continuity’s sake.

      • March 3, 2015 8:54 pm

        i had to go back to read your last post to see what you meant and you certainly have come a long way the last four months!! YAY!
        Free at last.

  3. March 3, 2015 3:51 pm

    This post made my day. Both because you are content with your life and because the existence of the blog has helped and continues to help so many.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 3, 2015 8:42 pm

      Yours too, honey. I just caught up with yours. xxx

  4. March 3, 2015 8:13 pm

    Lovely to hear from you again. I did read your blog from start to finish but not because of divorce but because I enjoyed your writing. There comes a point, when reading other peoples’ blogs that you feel like you begin to know them (even if it’s only through the lens that they are showing you). And so, when a blog gets shut down, or people move on and stop writing (which is good for them), they do leave a little gap. For now, I’m glad you’re not stopping.

  5. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    March 3, 2015 8:41 pm

    I know! And I feel this way about countless blogs that have been shut down or abandoned. In fact I feel as if I’m the kiss of death because the minute I fall in love with a blog it shutters. I had a friend who was a journalist who invariably caused whatever paper or magazine he wrote for to go bankrupt and close. Finally Time magazine hired him…and we all got very worried about Time magazine, sold our stock, etc.

    Anyway, if you’re willing to tolerate big gaps between posts, I’m still here. I was more fascinating when I was tormented, I fear…but I’m still here.

  6. Christa permalink
    March 4, 2015 1:35 am

    So good to read a new post. As far as I’m concerned, you can write about absolutely anything, and I will most definitely read it!

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 5, 2015 4:29 pm

      Thank you. What a lovely thing to say.

  7. Elizabeth Z permalink
    March 4, 2015 7:37 pm

    I am one of those poor souls who read your blog from start to finish when I discovered it in the aftermath of my divorce, but a little less poor because you shared. Thank you.

    This latest update is so helpful too because it helps me see beyond my current distress. My ex is under contract to buy a house with his fiancee. They are getting married in June, blending my two kids still at home with her three kids. I would never go back to being married to him but I can’t get my mind off of the happy household and family they are apparently putting together. Meanwhile I celebrate that my girls will find a haven with me. No stepparent, no stepsiblings, no new house far from their schools and their friends.

    His new house is both too close and too far away. Too close because I want to feel entirely separated and independent of him. Too far because he’s moved just far enough away to make it inconvenient for me to get to my girls or to get stuff to them when they’ve left it at my house.

    I’m still gnashing and sharpening my teeth, still often feeling dreadful about how it all fell apart. I tell myself that his move and marriage is the last major milestone I’ll have to deal with post-divorce and that it will get better. It has been mostly better, then better and better, as I move forward. But right now I feel pretty miserable about it all.

    I’m almost three years from our separation; two and a half years from the finality of divorce. I hope I don’t have to wait four more years to stop thinking about what his life is like and whether he’s happy to be rid of me. Even more I hope I don’t have to wait four more years to get over the festering guilt that my exit from my marriage of eighteen years left me with.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 5, 2015 4:33 pm

      I honestly think you will be freed from a bunch of these festering thoughts once he remarries. Not instantly, not all at once, but slowly and in a kind of healing drip. I was thrown back into a kind of sadness I hadn’t felt in years (and maybe hadn’t ever felt in such a pure way, if that makes sense–my sadness was always so tainted with anger and guilt) between my ex’s engagement and his marriage. But once he was truly married, living farther away, in a new house he bought with his wife and their two dogs and their cats and my kids part of the time…gradually, bit by bit, my heart eased.
      Yours will too, I’m betting. Hang in there.

  8. Wondering permalink
    March 5, 2015 11:09 am

    I am one of those who have read your blog from start to finish. Probably more than one time. You are light years beyond where I am though I think time wise, I started only a year or two behind you. We are still mediating (have been for almost a year), only recently started nesting. An actual divorce with paperwork feels like it may never come. Married 17 years with 4 children. As we contemplate our futures and what they look like, I had reluctantly decided to give up living in our main home with the kids as I don’t think I can realistically afford it. I had decided to rent the house across the street (much much smaller, much much older, no updates and with 3 less bathrooms) b/c I can afford that. It also allows me to maintain some control on where we are all living and what that looks like for my children. Reading your posts though, and listening to similarly situated moms who are all grateful they pushed their financial limits to stay in the main home with the kids, I’m wondering if I need to re-think this. I thought maintaining the proximity would be a good thing for the kids (and it probably is), but I’m starting to cringe more and more about living across the street from my ex — that’s what we have now with the nesting and it drives me crazy to have him so close and simply popping in when it’s my time in our house with the kids. Perhaps I need to fight for the house and let my ex move wherever he pleases and simply deal with the effects. I was hoping to lessen all this for the kids and lessen them having to live out of suitcases every week — by being across the street, everything becomes so much simpler – for them, though not for me. I love your updates here; I love your writing; I love to see the possibilities and life beyond. Please do keep writing.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 5, 2015 4:42 pm

      This is so hard to puzzle out, and I know exactly your dilemma…. My first reaction is to scream, Get out of the house! Get out of the house! because I so hated being stuck in the huge house I couldn’t afford (remember all those anguished posts?) And then, when it was too late, I became obsessed with the idea that I had really fucked up by not moving out when I had the chance, leaving my ex in place.
      Across the street, with you in the smaller cheaper house, does sound like a nice short term solution…why not rent it for now and then see how you feel? It sounds like a great idea to me. And your ex won’t barge in to that house, I bet. Mine has never ventured past the threshold of my new house…but the old house, the marital house, was his to roam all over whenever he wanted.
      I’d say rent the little house, and wait and see what happens. Things change. You’ll feel differently in a year, two years, three. The kids will, too. So will your ex. This does not have to be permanent…but the proximity does ease things for the kids at first, I think, though it’s harder on the parents.
      (I am happy every day that I’m no longer in the marital house. Truly. A new house feels like a new start.)

      • Wondering permalink
        March 6, 2015 7:06 am

        Thanks so much for your reply. Your advice and perspective is really very helpful. It may be possible for me to fight to afford the big house so I need to evaluate the emotional side of “Do I really want it?” “Is it worth the fight?” “What will it look like and will I regret pushing for it?” You’ve given me a few more things to think about. Thank you!

        • irretrievablybroken permalink*
          March 7, 2015 9:43 am

          I don’t mean to come down so hard against staying. But I hope you’ll keep me posted and that you will end up contented and calm. It’s rough to make these huge decisions alone when one has been married for so long…it feels like working without a net. I’m rooting for you from afar.

  9. March 6, 2015 8:08 pm

    A-freaking-men. You’re not that woman anymore, and you can rejoice in that fact. Be well. Be happy. Be yourself.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 7, 2015 9:45 am

      Thanks! One happy side effect of a midlife divorce is this: I never, ever want to go backward in time. I am much happier at 47 than I was at 37…wrinkles and all.

  10. March 9, 2015 3:36 pm

    I love this post more than I can tell you. Thank you for the update.

    I vote you leave this blog up with the very occasional divorce related update, and start a whole fresh new blog where you can talk about the things that matter more now. I want to hear about what you’re reading and places you’re going, and frankly about anything you choose to write. But only if you want to! I miss your voice, but understand if your new and happier life doesn’t involve blogging.

  11. LMM permalink
    March 10, 2015 12:06 pm

    Delightful.

  12. March 20, 2015 7:44 pm

    Aww, so wonderful to read a post from you! I love your style of writing; your sentences flow through seamlessly; so please do write once in a while. it’s so great you’re your own person again! Maybe you should write a new blog … about everything else you want to write about!
    Cheers, friend!

  13. lyndsey permalink
    March 21, 2015 6:46 pm

    Would love it if you kept writing, both because I like your writing and because as someone still in the ‘miserably googling’ stage I wouldn’t mind a longer peek into what’s on the other side of this! No small detail of a calm life would feel too mundane!

    I have a chameleon-ish ex too and it helps very much to hear your experience – we married young and had a long marriage as equals but now, shaped by his new identifications I suspect, he is oddly very paternalistic and condescending so that even the simplest attempts at sorting something out feel bizarre, and I am getting ever more skilled at honing it down to the fewest necessary words needed to get fom A to B (there is so, so much between A and B, who knew). It feels like my present and past have had a a much starker disruption/disconnection than I’d imagined; I hadn’t expected the experience of us as a family would be something I’d think about only as past memory, I thought it would change shape but still be recognizable, but already it isn’t. I think once I get adjusted to the weirdness of it, it may actually fastforward me toward the afterpeace though.

  14. March 22, 2015 2:45 am

    Ah I remember discovering and devouring your blog in a sitting, a few years ago! No divorce or anything, wasn’t even married then, but you became and stayed my favorite writer to read online… you’re honestly the only reason I still log into my feed-reader at all.

    So if the whole ‘divorced’ persona or the (awesome) title of this blog is holding you back or limiting you in any way, please, start a new one! Let it be about anything – I absolutely love your travel posts and the few where you shared poetry, or anything stemming from your literary training/thinking. Just leave a forwarding address, we’ll follow you anywhere.

    In any case, thank you so, so much for sharing your life, and more importantly your mind, all these years. It has been a most wonderful trip! I’ll always be waiting for more.

  15. April 6, 2015 5:27 pm

    How fortuitous that I clicked over here to find your recent post! (Ah well, a month old but cut me some slack; things NEVER seem to settle down around here!!!)
    Wondering, I still kick myself sometimes for being so bullheadedly devoted to hanging onto **MY** farm (MY dream, really – but the house we built “together” w/my father serving as general contractor, on the land my aunt & uncle stepped up to finance for us when conventional banks balked) – it’s tied me down, for sure & for certain even though it’s a beautiful place… Don’t think my ex has ever forgiven me for standing up on my own hind legs – he really expected me to tuck tail & retreat to my parents, leaving HIM in possession.
    I might have done things differently if I had ’em to do over again, but now I only have 14 more mos until our son turns 18, he can forge his own relationship w/his father, & I won’t have to deal w/the SOB anymore – what a party I’m gonna throw!

  16. Jenny permalink
    April 14, 2015 4:28 pm

    Another vote not to close things down. I don’t care if you ever write another word about divorce, but I’d read you on birdwatching or omelettes or water polo. Or, especially, books.

  17. Casey permalink
    April 23, 2015 8:47 am

    irretrievablybroken

    It never ceases to amaze me that I can be away from your blog for so long, months even, and when I return, your most recent post continues to parallel my life. I feel like I went through my divorce and the aftermath with a soul sister. I found your blog through a professional connection you probably do not even know about, and am ever thankful!

    I am so happy for you for your last line “Now I am someone else”.
    Congratulations, sister.

  18. Sarah permalink
    May 5, 2015 1:48 pm

    Yeiiii you are back! Another one here that will read whatever you write.

    And glad for your current blissful state of being.

  19. March 28, 2016 1:19 pm

    (My real name is Colleen…I’m posting via a colleague’s profile that we use for managing our blog One Year of Letters) Hi! I came across the emails you and I exchanged in early 2010, and I confess and I have not revisited since….perhaps because your thoughts resonated far too much with mine. The power of them scared me… I was only a year or so further along in the process than you. I dwelt too much in the same bitterness and anger.

    I am so glad to see you far you have come. So much of what you say mirrors my current experience. He has remarried and lives a weirdly different life, now very very far away. I rarely think of him unless necessary, and it’s such a relief (except now we’ve had a revivial of custody issues that requires attorneys). And one kid’s out of college, another is in college, and only one is left to shuffle back and forth.

    Anyway, I’m glad you have spun out the purpose of this blog. It’s healthy, I think. I wonder, do you blog about other things now? Also, would you consider hooking up with my team to write an essay now and then? You are an excellent and passionate writer. I didn’t intend this post to be mercenary–I only popped in to see how you were and that’s when the thought occurred to me. If you are interested, come visit us at http://www.oneyearofletters.com. I apologize for the ad on your blog, but I thought I’d throw that out there.

    Best of luck! Colleen

  20. Ellen permalink
    April 24, 2017 5:32 pm

    Miss your writing… hope you come back to say hello again.

  21. August 12, 2017 9:48 am

    Just checking in to see if there is anything new. With any luck no news is good news and life is crazy wonderful for you. I hope you are writing somewhere.

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