It’s been awhile since I have written anything, but I’ve been, uh, going through some shit. Let me just say it – I’m getting divorced. And one of the more surreal things about getting divorced (especially if you have kids) is that you suddenly find yourself with some time on your hands, whether you like it or not. At some point you start splitting parenting time with your ex, taking turns in and out of the house, and you find that you have days, or hours, or even a week to yourself that you hadn’t had in years. In my case, I never wanted that time. I didn’t make the decision to get a divorce. But here I am in it, with a lot more time to myself. My marriage fell apart, and I decided to use that free time I suddenly found myself with to put together the world’s shittiest consolation prize – a newsletter about getting divorced. (Catharsis! Redemption! Salvaging the ruins of every failed dream, every terrible decision, every stupid minute of wasted time!). Does that serve as an OK introduction? I really just wanted to say hi. I could use someone to talk to.
Here’s my story.
I am forty-two years old. I had a baby fourteen months ago – my second child – and six months after the baby was born my husband announced he was divorcing me. This is a whole long story, but for now know that this was a very ugly thing. And it has only gotten worse. We’re embroiled in stupid litigation, and my ex continues to live downstairs in my house, like a sad, basement troll.
He sleeps next to the treadmill, across from the washer/dryer. He bought himself a bed and moved it in down there. He got a bright blue comforter from Target. There is a beer fridge next to his bed because this room had been his “man cave.” He uses the beer fridge as his bedside table. And yes, I’m rolling my eyes so hard as I type these words, they’re about to roll out my damn head.
He hasn’t vacuumed the carpet downstairs in eight months. I try not to think too much about it, honestly, or I’ll scream.
That’s the simplified version of things. The problem is, being forced for legal reasons to continue to share my house with my ex means that my home feels like a cage now (a cage with very, very dirty rugs). My lawyer advises me in every situation to ignore my basement husband, don’t react to him, don’t take his bait, ever. Be the best mom, the best human, the kind of stable, steady person who remains calm and collected in all circumstances. The plan, apparently, is to stifle every emotion, every negative impulse, and be a perfect robot even when I’m being shit on daily. Just be calm, be easy, be nonreactive, and everything will be aces. My friends encourage me to Gray Rock Method the shit out of my situation, which basically means remaining consistently unengaged from my ex and all of his emotionally dragging shenanigans. To be as cool and controlled as a big, gray rock.
The trouble is, hahahahaha. Oh who am I kidding? If you know me at all, this advice was essentially taken from the Amy Blair Torture Handbook. I’m a woman of Big Emotion. I am not good at…not talking. I do not do well with Shut Up and Take It. I’m a pretty great mom. I have a big group of loving friends. But holding back my opinion – stifling my, um, complicated personality (which is occasionally, uh, kinda fiery), is legit murdering me. I need a place to put these feeeeeeeelings.
So here I am, typing a dumb newsletter, and promising myself to keep it up. To do it weekly. To make it a thing that maybe, just a little, makes me feel a tiny bit like my human self again.
Earlier this summer my older son was at a sleepover and I snuck outside with the baby monitor and drank a secret whiskey in a coffee mug on my porch. The weather was summer evening perfect, and I hadn’t had a drink in ages – I had been pregnant last year, then I was taking care of a newborn without much help, and then I got hit with the divorce. I was a wreck. I hadn’t smiled for months. I hadn’t done much of anything besides growing a human, then breastfeeding him until my nipples nearly fell off, and then fighting with my husband in court. But for one warm early summer night, that super secret porch whiskey was a little taste of furtive freedom. It represented an opening – there were ways to sneak in joy, to get some relief. I’m hoping that writing this thing is my super secret porch whiskey. I hope it brings me some solace. I hope that maybe through some sort of internet magic it finds its way to someone who is going through some of the same shit. I hope it helps.
Tell Me One Thing.
What was your super secret porch whiskey when you were forced to continue living with your ex during your divorce? This shit sucks, and we all have to do what we need to get by. Send me an email and let me know all about secret strategies for simple pleasures during the long, sad slog of divorce.
Read One Thing.
Lyz Lenz has been there, and she is absolutely killing it (even when she poops her pants).
Listen To One Thing.
This week I can’t get enough of Jenny Lewis’ song, Wasted Youth.
Girlllllllllll, you have no idea.