He asks if I’ve been writing. I respond the same way I have every time someone has asked me since January, “No, but I really should. No, but I’d like to.” As if it is just a thing I can add to my list and cross off when I come to it. Nestle it down in between reworking an entire business and trips to Seattle on the weekends. Tack it on to the end of an already existent line of tasks to be completed. Make time for it in between planning a divorce celebration and figuring out where the hell we go from here.
It’s not like that. It’s more like putting all that down and unearthing something completely different. Because if I start writing, I’m going to write about Mason. And if I do that…
Everything aches. I do a good job with blocking, with dealing, with harnessing all that heartbreak into motivation. My mental health professionals, my friends, my family, they all remark on how well I’ve been doing “all things considered”, but they neglect to consider writing. Because if I haven’t written about it, I haven’t done much of anything with it.
So let’s do something with it.
I made him say the word. The big, scary one with the sharp edges. I made him say “divorce” before I would acknowledge what he was saying. It meant all my fighting hadn’t been enough to keep him. That talks about how I would change, how we could change hadn’t been convincing enough to sway him. That I’d failed irreparably at the one thing in my life I wanted to be good at: being married to Mason. I’d lost him. Curtain falls.
Sitting on the steps of the once-ours, now-his apartment building I sobbed for a solid hour. In the days following every mention of future plans, of children, of growth, of building something brought me to tears. Nothing was beautiful without him. This is not the life I had wanted to live. Over and over in therapy those words would be repeated, “You didn’t ask for this. This was not your plan.” And despite all my resistance, I finally gave into the feeling that it’s different being left than leaving.
Here I was–handed something I had no desire for–being told, “This is what you get.” It happens all the time, I know. But my partner was supposed to be my constant and he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t.
The urge was strong to hate him. To vilify. Instead, I pulled out all the reasons getting divorced was the right thing for both of us. I told myself that this was good, was better. That the trees that grow back after the fire are stronger than the ones before. Then I remembered that when we first met he called me “wildfire” and I break down again. Break down. Then continue on again.
Most every morning I get out of bed and I smile in the mirror and I begin my day with confidence. And we plan a party to celebrate the end of one chapter, the beginning of the next. I even buy a new dress. Mostly things feel just fine. We joke about June 15th being the best day of my life.
But you don’t just turn off love like that. Don’t just turn the wheel and plot a new path. I sewed him into every fiber of my life. And though we know I shouldn’t have, I still have to go back. Go back and pull out each stitch made in the last five years. It will leave a hole there. There is no fixing it.
In time I won’t notice it as much. As we get more chapters in our book each one seems less significant alone. And in time I will stop checking my phone and email, hoping he’s tried to make contact. I will stop missing him at family dinners and stop reaching across the bed for him in the middle of the night. Eventually I will stop thinking of how to tell him first when something exciting happens. Before I know it, he will fade off into the edges. But that won’t change the fact that I never wanted this.
That I still don’t. Not this. And–you know what?–I didn’t even know that until I wrote it.
Yet this is where I am. Standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the most important people in my life. We problem solve and take measurements. Smooth the edges of each piece of clay. Learn a new trade like the curves of a new lover’s body. And I think, “This is it, kid. This is your constant now.”
And I wouldn’t trade it out.