"Most divorces are just a four-year-long date with a little bookkeeping."
-- RALPH NOBLE, RPI Professor of Psychology.
At the end of the day, details don't matter. My friends know all the gory ins and outs, and, as personal as I want to get in these essays, the details are a wee bit too personal. So forget the details. You don't need to know who she was, how we met, what we did, or what happened to make it all go south in the end. The details aren't important. What's important is this:
It wasn't anybody's fault.
I met a woman I really liked and I thought I could live with and love for the rest of my life. It was a mistake. Not because she or I were not worthy of love, but that we chose each other to focus that love on, and that turned out to be a wrong choice. Oh, we were in love for a time - we were blissfully happy, as lovers and as partners in a marriage. But somewhere along the way things began to fade, to grey out a bit, and in the end, to paraphrase a friend, we were ninety percent happy and ten percent miserable, and that ten percent was taking over.
And nobody can fight for a marriage unilaterally. It takes a combined effort - I wanted to fight for it, and she didn't, and that was that. She wasn't in love with me anymore, and no matter how much I was in love with her, it didn't seem to matter. And with the separation that intense burning love, and the anger, and the bitterness, began to fade.
Because emotions do fade. Anger fades, bitterness fades, broken hearts get mended, and so does love vanish. Affection doesn't, perhaps, but that intense burning need, that bond, that connection that you feel, the desire to protect, and cherish, that goes away.
It'll be alright. That's the grown-up voice talking. It's saying all the things grown-up voices are supposed to say. That it's going to be okay. That this too, shall pass. That life goes on. That time heals all wounds, and it wasn't anybody's fault the way it happened. And the child that grown-up voice is talking to, is sitting by the side of the road, leaning against the wall of a building, and softly crying. The child hears the grown-up, but he's not listening to him. All the child can feel is this horrible, horrible sense of loss, and that sense of loss is the biggest, darkest hole in the world, and no amount of burrowing beneath the sheets, or snuggling up in blankets, or soft soothing arms and stroking of hair and comfort will take away that dark hole. It is a death hole. It is a burial hole. It is the open maw of entropy, eating away at the guts of the Universe. And for that child, it is everything.
That the grown-up voice is right, and that in a few weeks, a few months, the child will be able to hold his head up high, and walk around, and start its first tentative steps towards living again, makes no difference to the here and now. Now, everything reminds the child of her. The places they walked, the songs they sang, the movies they watched, the emptiness of the bed too big without her.
But this too, really, shall pass. Life actually goes on. Time, surprisingly, indeed heals all wounds. And whaddya know? It really is going to be okay.
And the child and the grown-up and all the other voices, merging again into that whole that is The Person, or as much of that Person as the voices can make up, they all start to wonder. Was it love? How do people fall out of love? How do people forget that at one time this particular object of desire was the center of their Universe? So if that's not The One, if he, or she, or it, isn't Everything, then the promises of True Love, of Marriage, of commitment for Life, it all becomes a lie.
And isn't that the most delicious joke of all? That when the pain fades, so does the love?
But trust me on this. This one goes out to all the broken-hearted, all the walking wounded, all the hearts bleeding on the sidewalk and the open wounds that hide themselves beneath brash exteriors or sunken beneath a haze of drugs, alcohol, or sex, or whichever intoxicant du jour. This is the truth, and I'll only say it once, so listen up.
You were capable of love and were loved, and you therefore are capable of it again.
And really, that's all you need to know. Self-pity is allowed for up to a maximum of six months after cessation of relations, and after that, if you're still whining, I'll bitchslap you.
Anyway. The divorce becomes final in a few weeks. How do I feel? She won't want to hear this, and she won't like it (there are some things I still know about her, after all), but it's a relief. It's like a weight off my shoulders. It's like for the first time in two years, I feel freed. I know it's artificial. I know it's just a piece of paper and it doesn't really alter the fact that for the last two years, I was actually a single man. But there's a finality to the pronouncement at last, a sense of closure that wasn't quite there before.
Maybe I just needed someone to tell me that it was over at last.
Have a good life, my once-love. I hope you find the happiness you want, and the life you want, with the person you've chosen. I'm still looking, but don't worry too much. I'll find it someday, and on my own terms.
The details aren't important. Living life is.
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