I was talking to a friend
The other day
Who is going through a divorce.
One of a few friends
Going through it right now.
She had the shell-shocked look
I remember from my mirror six years ago.
“This is so
And could relate:
The hopelessness leading up to
Then finally the decision is made and
But now the process to
I listened to her grapple with
Behaving with inexplicable
The things that are said,
Unprintable even in my
Fear masked as anger,
You were partners in
And now it feels like
This person is threatening your
Ability to survive and thrive.
S/he wants to take your money,
Your time with your kids,
Both of your survival instincts are flared
And pitted against one another’s.
Even the most amicable divorce
Requires concessions that,
By their very nature,
Feel cruelly unfair.
My biggest fear was that the
Would last forever.
The pain that was so much more
Or breaking the news to the kids,
Which is how I’d conceived of divorce
Until I went through it.
It was a dense and many-layered pain that,
At its peak,
Felt like it might be a major part of me
For the rest of my life.
But here’s my miracle:
Today I had a phone chat with my
That wasn’t just civil
Or even friendly,
But was truly affectionate.
And the other day I stood on my
Front porch and chatted with
My husband’s ex-wife and
Her new boyfriend and
For her and
Hopeful for her future and
Unattached to what it all
Means for me.
My husband came home the other night
From meeting with his ex-wife to
Discuss some weighty matters
About their kids.
And the conversation,
As he recounted it to me,
I got choked up listening to it,
Observing how this
My husband and
His ex-wife has
Grown since I’ve known them.
It’s not all perfect.
There are still difficult decisions ahead.
But I cannot tell you how
I am to
Get along with both ex-spouses in our family’s life.
It is a truly
How has it all come about,
After fucking things up good
And learning hard lessons from it:
I learned to make concessions to
Simply keep the peace with my ex-husband.
I sensed it was better for my son
For me to let him go for periods of time
Than to fight to keep him all the time.
That meant I was physically separated from him for
About six months
On three occasions.
And now he spends summers with his dad.
As of this writing,
I haven’t hugged or touched
My 7-year-old boy
For about 50 days.
I miss out on events in his life.
But I saw not fighting over my son
As a loving act,
Although to the outside it might look–
Well, who fucking cares
How it looks?
Also, I don’t care about fairness anymore.
There is no truly fair outcome of a
Especially with kids.
Everyone gets screwed.
If you pay child support,
It feels like too much.
It you receive child support,
It feels like too little.
The schedule is never quite right.
You might have to spend
Mother’s Day alone–
I did for three years in a row.
My ex-husband hasn’t had his
Son on Father’s Day since 2007.
I got used to it,
And then saw the weird beauty of
This little life lesson
Which has served me well in
Other parts of my life.
We can try for fair–
We do try for fair.
But we never truly achieve it.
These days, I prioritize my relationship with my
Son’s dad and
My husband’s ex-wife.
We try to do small things
To keep it friendly between us.
Little actions to build good will have
Countered any ill-will we once had,
And then some.
I truly care about both of them.
My friendly relationship with my ex-husband
And his family
Is one of the proudest achievements of my life.
And it’s not just about our son.
It’s about my ex and me, too.
It works for us to have an
Affectionate relationship that
Doesn’t revolve around our son at
Every moment of every conversation.
Time doesn’t heal all,
But it does help a hell of a lot.
I’ve heard bitter tirades from
Parents of grown children,
Divorced decades ago.
So obviously time isn’t a panacea.
But time is important.
When I look back
Six or seven years to the middle of the divorce
And right afterward,
My imagination was limited
As to what my life might look like,
Or what my ex’s might look like.
It felt like we would be
Forever tightly linked in this
Web of mutual distrust and
As I was standing talking to my friend
About her impending divorce,
I was noticing how physically
Strong I felt.
Loose-limbed and agile.
I said to her that
It was the hardest thing I’ve
Ever been through
In my life
But I wouldn’t go back and
This was brilliant. Raw and unaffected. Absolutely love the honesty. Relatable for anyone who has ever been effected by divorce. Again, brilliant.
Thanks for your kind words.
Beautifully said, Jennifer. How healing this can be for so many.
Thank you for your kind words.
This is really good. But I have a question from someone that is just going through it now. You say you wouldn’t change anything but when you look back and realize you’ve gone through all that journey, do you wonder what it couldmhave been if your energy was spent? Healing and fixing your relationship with your ex rather than to get so many other relationships to work with each other? So back then you would have known all this, would it have made a difference? I am sking because as I hear these stories, Iwonder that myself, andI am torn and makes want to consider fixing the relatioship instead.
Hi Irene. Warm thoughts and healing energies as you go through your divorce. It sucks, no matter how amicable it’s still fundamentally a failure at some level. Right, I’ve thought about the idea that if I was in a healthier place in my life, could I have worked hard on my first marriage to make it work? All I can say is, I just knew it was over. It was a truth about myself that was not changeable or negotiable. To stay in that first marriage would have taken so much energy it would have really changed me as a person. It would have taken way more energy than to maintain all these ex- relationships. It was the right thing for me to do, I have no question in my mind. Good luck on finding your truth.