The minute I learned when the official day would be I circled it in my calendar, red marker with big capital letters – DIVORCE DAY – declaring it a sort of personal holiday. The kind of holiday that signifies a completion, and acknowledges new things to come.
The kind of holiday you throw a fucking party to celebrate.
But as the weeks neared, “House boat on Lake Shasta, 70:1 beer:person ratio!” whittled down to “Night out on the town in Bend!” and to “Afternoon backyard get together” before finally landing on “Just kidding there’s no party I’m going out in the woods to crew a 100 miler for a friend I barely know.”
I mostly blamed the deteriorating plans on laziness – the logistics of corralling people (what if no one can come, or I forget someone?) and fear of hosting (I still didn’t have chairs around my dining table) were easy scapegoats. But I think deep down I wanted to keep the “celebration” to myself. Making a spectacle over my newfound singledom, around people who’ve only known me in this stage of my life, felt disrespectful to the years Brian and I spent together. Our marriage wasn’t a sham or anything I wanted to throw away (although I did a lot of literal throwing away of things in the weeks leading up) and without anyone here who knew us in our good days, it just didn’t feel right to celebrate its ending at all.
I wrote the passage below the night I decided to cancel the “Divorce Day” party. It’s pretty hippieshit and personal, not something I’d typically share with many people, let alone blab all over the internet. And I know this is “supposed” to be a “running blog” (please do the hand gestures), but in the end I felt like it would be good to air out the thoughts and let them breathe, in case someone would relate somehow.
And even if not, it just feels good to get the words on paper (/screen.)
*we filed a Summary Dissolution which means instead of appearing in court you fill out some papers and then just wait six months and voila, divorce. it pays not having kids, lots of money, or things to fight over.
One of the things about our divorce that I’m most grateful for (other than skipping over the meat aisle at the grocery store and sleeping in the middle of the bed) is the opportunity for a fresh start. Combined with the move to Oregon, I started 2015 with as clean of a slate as you can possibly get. New town, new friends, new job… Squeaky fucking clean.
And while I was settling into all this new-ness, I realized for once I had complete, unbridled control over what stayed, and what got kicked to the curb. Sure, there’s the literal packing of things in a move, and the literal separation of belongings in a break up. But what about the other things in my life? The non-tangibles? My hobbies, habits, ideas – all the things that make me “me”? How many of them were intentionally developed, and how many either fell into my lap out of habit or laziness? How did I feel about bringing all of those things into this new phase of my life?
Am I really such an introvert I can’t make small talk with the person behind me at the grocery store, or is that a personality trait I’ve slowly acquired over the years?
Is it fun to pass on participating in things because I’m not super good at them just to protect my competitive ego?
Do I really hate olives, or did someone tell me they were gross and I never gave them a chance?
I’ve spent a lot of the past months thinking about these things – who I am, who I want to be, and how I see this new chapter playing out that is being written only by me. (That sounds depressing when you think of it as, “instead of co-writing with the person you said you’d be together with forever,” but ridiculously invigorating as, “you’ve got the pen, girl, write the motherfucking chapter(s) of your dreams!”)
What surprised me the most about this whole deeply intrinsic, uncharacteristically personal self-assessment was how much I think I’ve been wrong about my interpersonal relationships.
Being open, approachable, and welcoming do not come naturally to me. None of the folks who know me – from any stage in my life – would describe me as any of those things, I’m pretty damn certain. Plus, I have a severe case of Resting Bitch Face that I just don’t think there’s ever going to be a cure for.
But I realize that a lot of the walls that I had built up were there for silly reasons. To protect myself from some unknown something or another that I worried would hurt me. That exposing any part of me to people I hadn’t screened, put through a personality test, and checked their FICO score would make me foolishly vulnerable and soft. That if I relied on someone they’d let me down, or even worse, I’d let them down. I kept myself impermeable to any threat of hurt, and in doing so kept myself from fully experiencing the joy of moments and people surrounding me.
It still takes me a while to feel comfortable around someone, but I realized I kind of do like discussing thoughts, feelings, and ideas with people. Instead of squirming at the first mention of emotion and running for the hills when shit gets serious, it’s really liberating to let everything air out, both as the presenter and the audience, even if it’s uncomfortable as shit. Having those thoughts fester privately in my own brain (or pretending like they don’t exist) has never done anyone any favors, no matter how well I like to think I’ve managed it over the years.
So new chapter Sarah is making an effort to chip away at some of those protective walls, to see what happens when the drawbridge is lowered and the alligators are deported from the moat. Independent, closed-off Sarah is rolling over in her grave over it, but I think it could be good.
And if not, at least I can’t say I didn’t try. (ahem, olives.)
In closing (does that make this sound like I’m speaking to you from a podium?) I’m seeing this separation as a fresh start to so much more than just love. While I’m scrubbing such a big corner of my life clean, why not wipe down the rest of the walls too, right? Reflecting on why our relationship failed made me reflect on myself as a partner, friend, and human in general.
All of those things can always be improved.