I just finished a hard four days. I’ve never really experienced such sadness, thankfully, but all the requisite emotions of getting divorced, letting go of the dream or the illusion or the fantasy of what I thought my marriage might be, admitting my mistakes, and recognizing that all I took to be absolute a year or two ago no longer is – that hit me like a truck on the highway, unable to stop.
I’m not a weepy person. So when that’s all I felt for four days, wow, I didn’t know what to do with that. A good friend framed it perfectly: “Where you are right now, you’re in the MOST AMAZING PLACE. That’s because your life could become anything – if you sit in the discomfort enough to get through it. That’s exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go.”
Last night my children went to their father, and I had a massage. One of my best friends called with a dinner invitation. It was her daughter’s ninth birthday yesterday, and her entire family, in-laws and all, were coming over. “I’m not in the mood for so many people,” I said to this friend I’ve known since seventh grade. “I can’t take your mother today.”
“She’ll be on her best behavior, I promise,” Ally replied. “And she will not say a word about your divorce.”
So I went. Little things were good yesterday – my hair turned out beautifully, and I wore a teal skirt, a black cropped short-sleeved jacket, and high black heels. I looked good. My ears dangled Michal Negrin earrings, my favorite. I wasn’t that hungry but when Ally put a plate of sweet potato and black bean burritos in front of me, I ate. And it was good.
Her mother was actually a delight. And her grandparents had me laughing so hard, I kept swiping tears away from the corners of my eyes.
“I don’t like anything on that Food Network,” said her grandmother, who’d eaten dinner out before going to Ally’s because she refuses to eat vegetables. “On this one show, they brought out a wheel of cheese. It was so hard they couldn’t cut it with a knife. I didn’t know there were so many cheeses! I like Kentucky Fried Chicken. That’s good.”
She said she makes scrambled eggs and onions for breakfast every day.
“Every day?” I asked. “Don’t you get sick of it?”
She pointed to Ally’s grandfather and said, “I’ve been married to him for 60 years. I don’t get sick of anything.”
Through my laughter I conceded, “I guess so.”
Ally’s mother demanded more wine but there wasn’t any. Ally’s in-laws gushed over the delicious vegetable and haloumi cheese salad and the sweet-spiced burritos. In the kitchen sat a sheet cake decorated with the words, Happy Birthday Lacey!
I left there in smiles and met a friend for wine and dessert at a restaurant. And after, I fell asleep quickly and didn’t awake until my alarm went off at six. The storm had passed. At least temporarily, for I know that the emotions that accompany such a dramatic change in everything around me, this thing called life, are not that easily assuaged.
It’s hard to sit in the tough times. I so wanted an escape – a fantasy, a vacation. I contemplated booking a plane ticket to visit my oldest friend the next weekend that the kids go to their father. But I didn’t.
I have to get through this if I have any hope of standing tall and strong on the other side. Thankfully, I have sweet, soft children to hug and cuddle, and friends and relatives who call, visit, and let me cry when I need to. Other writers sent me emails suggesting books to read and ways to combat the sadness, writers I’ve never met but who have also gone through divorce.
It was easy to end my marriage. It was a no-brainer. I had no love, partnership, or benefit from staying with Avy.
What I do now is the hard part. I’m starting over. Really, I’m beginning my real life for the first time. I didn’t have clarity or confidence the last time around. I hid behind other people’s purpose – the facade of a religious life, the parameters of the rabbis, the expectations of chick flicks and the fantasies of carefully constructed novels.
Now I have to build a life out of all the choices. I construct a deliberate framework in which I want to live. I decide my values, my parameters, my rights and wrongs, the do’s and don’ts. That’s a lot of responsibility but oh the payoff will be so good. I believe that fully.