The Revelations (and Annoyances) of Divorce
So you develop an extremely intimate relationship with one person over the course of 15 years, and, well, you can’t help but get used to certain things. Like making the bed the perennial place to do everything. I’m not just talking about sleeping—I’m talking eating all your meals, working on music, listening to music, reading your beloved novels, watching TV, having sex, not having sex, talking about the fact you should really have sex more often (always post-coitus.) The bed was the seat of my power. Getting out of it was near impossible. Besides, I accomplished more sitting in that ridiculously soft bed, learning music and honing my craft, than I ever did sitting in front of the piano.
But here’s the majorly annoying stuff that crawls under your fingernails and festers when you’re no longer together: you are suddenly in the middle of a fantastically compelling TV series and have to watch the rest of it...alone. You shout into the void “I can’t believe she killed her own husband!” pretending your ex is listening magically from some far-off place. When you fart, it’s no longer a pre-adolescent joke you can laugh about with someone who has just as juvenile a mind as you (in that respect, at least.) At night, you can no longer roll over to face your partner, his body fully plastered to the opposite wall, embracing a giant pillow like a pet panda bear, smile and think to yourself: “Awwww...he looks so cute when he hates me and is trying to get as far away as possible.” And you no longer get to torture him by playing that same goddamned Steely Dan record on repeat in the car, watching him roll his eyes and just take it for the team, because he knows it’s the only music these days that stops you from panicking and crying.
These are the things I miss. I miss the man who told me “Well of COURSE I have to eat the whole box of mochis. Otherwise, they get soggy in the freezer,” as he pops the last one in his mouth. I can’t knowingly look at him and smile, fully aware that this is definitely a passing stage and indicative probably of something obnoxious I’m doing. That’s actually the real problem: you can’t blame yourself for anything anymore. That is, unless you’re struggling for your 20th-century brain to make sense of modern computers or phones, and then you berate yourself with a two by four until your covered in metaphorical blood, and the damn computer STILL doesn’t work. Your least favorite words to hear are: “I’ll just send you the music over Dropbox.” Not unless you want a box dropped on your head! I always want to retort.
But getting back to my ex-husband, I didn’t go as crazy as wearing his clothes or smelling them or peering through old photo albums, or, God forbid, getting a pathetic tattoo. I knew we had grown apart—me, the emotional victim of her own self-doubt, with a laundry list of illnesses and traumas that would make your head spin, and him—the rational every man, who scoffs in the face of emotion and whose idea of comforting is to pretend nothing is happening. I feel somewhat guilty mentioning that last part—I don’t mean to bash him. I think what hurts the most, the thing that gets me crying first thing in the morning, is the fact he IS a truly good and decent man. A person with finer qualities I cannot find. He is gentle and selfless and honest and will abide by all the laws in the known universe (my flagrant jaywalking was put to a halt right quick.) And even though I’ve moved on (technically—new abode, new boyfriend, new pseudo step-daughter) the truth is that I mourn the positive things we had every single day. I used to fear the pain of grieving, as if it would swallow me up whole like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, taking no prisoners. But it’s taught me something too. It’s taught me that my happiness can’t rest on the presence of any one person. I knew this throughout our marriage as I, in my physically and mentally weakened state, reached for the tissue box more times than I can count, and I realize it now, with the bed so barren next to me when I wake up, I feel for the hole where my heart used to reside. Hell, sometimes I even miss the fact there’s no man plastered to the opposite wall like he’s trying to access another dimension...a one-way ticket out of crazy town.
I think what perplexes me most is how quick the decision was to divorce. I think the conversation between us was roughly 5 seconds. “That’s it. It’s over.” And stunned silence from me, like I forgot how to use my words (something he would ask of me patronizingly but hilariously from time to time.) The bottom line is that divorce sucks. If you can avoid it in any way, DO! Who wants to uproot their whole life like a snail placed on the sidewalk instead of the grass by some idiot? It’s hard and challenging and painful beyond my ability to wrangle words together.
Nevertheless, I have learned one thing about myself, and it’s that I am a true fighter. I don’t give up. Even in the midst of all my health problems, I’m still out hustling gigs and trying to gain work. I do this because music is not just some hobby or fun thing I like to do from time to time—it is who I AM. This may appear to be a dangerous statement, but I can’t think of a truer one. And maybe that’s how I’ll manage to go on—by singing and playing my way out of this pit of sadness, even if I have to take a few short breaks to vomit from time to time. Am I expelling my previous marriage, or the part of me that didn’t communicate when I should have, that lied when it would have made me look bad to tell the truth, that didn’t appreciate the enormous sacrifices my ex made for me. I don’t know. It is a daily battle, but I am hopeful that happiness is not a distant country, but a state of mind that evolves gradually with each degree of acceptance one has. The more I resist my pain, the worse it becomes. And I am comforted by some of the wisest words my ex has ever said to me. We were speaking, and I was lamenting all my regrets. “How can I ever make it up to you?” I asked him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied: “Live a good, decent life. Enjoy your life. Be happy and work hard for your dreams. I want you to be well.”
Ladies and gentleman, if that’s not the sign of a gracious person, I don’t know what is.