Friday, July 27, 2012

Pro Se

Tonight's cocktail is a single shot of tequila. Patron Anejo, because if you're having a brief wallow in self-pity, you might as well do it right.*

*Not their actual advertising slogan.
There's something I haven't talked about yet, and I've debated whether to disclose it, because it's about to be largely irrelevant. I decided to tell you because I want to do more with this blog than simply showcase my admittedly impressive ability to use humor as a defense mechanism. I started blogging because I suspect my experiences and emotional terrain are not uncommon, and I want to tell people who are also navigating dark waters in their lives that they're not alone, and that they can get to the other side.

So, here it is. I've been separated from my ex-husband for 3 and a half years, but I'm not yet legally divorced. Trust me, it's embarrassing, though it's not because of any ambivalence on my part. When I moved out, I never intended to move back, and I've never regretted it, but he didn't want a divorce. It took over a year for him to start talking about settlement, more time for my lawyer to draft an agreement and for me to review and edit it, and periodically my ex would go through periods of not be able or willing to discuss it, and even after that was no longer the case, there were complicated tax and financial issues to work through, and life was busy for us both on top of it all. I could have petitioned for divorce and gone to court after a year, but I knew we would do better working out financial and parenting issues between us rather than letting a stranger do it, so I was as patient as I could be; more patient, my friends and family say, than anyone should be expected to be. And, obviously, in the meantime I moved on with my life. I had to.

Finally, we have signed a settlement agreement, and I am going to prepare and file an uncontested divorce petition after I return from vacation. I'm not sure why this makes me want to cry when I write it, because I know I'm not crying for him. I don't want that marriage back - there were good times, and he is a good person, but the relationship was bad for me, and I know with absolute certainty that it wouldn't have gotten better. I'm crying for what I thought I had but didn't. I'm crying for the family life I wanted so badly and did everything I could to try to have, to the point of losing myself and becoming someone I no longer respected. I'm crying because I'm playing this really sad Patty Griffin song on repeat. I'll switch tracks in a moment, I promise, but it is a pretty song.

I could pay my lawyer to prepare the petition, but oddly I feel like I need to do it myself. I'm a real lawyer and everything, so it's within my capabilities, and besides I like to save money, but that's not really the point. It feels like a necessary step to closure, finishing with my own hands what I started so that I could take control of my life again.

The other day, before we signed the agreement, my ex asked me to give back my engagement ring. I've kept it safe, and I'd planned to make the stone into a necklace or buy a matching stone to make earrings for Tink when she's old enough. I feel that she needs to be reminded by me, the person who ended her parents' marriage, that she is the product of love, and that neither her father nor I ever stopped loving her. The ring is mine - it was given in promise of marriage, and I married him, and I did the best I could with the limited amount of sense I had. The monetary value doesn't matter to me - we were poor students when we got engaged, so we're not talking about the Hope Diamond or anything. It just hurts me that he would ask for it back, as if it wasn't something I valued, after all I paid while I wore it.

During this process, I've found that unexpected things will occasionally rise up and kick me in the taco, and this has been one of them. After fearing my emotions for a long time, I'm actually grateful for moments like this that shake me up and require me to assess where I really stand and how I really feel. As I write this, I see how far I've come, and I'm at peace with the life I have chosen, and excited for what lies ahead.

I think it's time to switch soundtracks to something more festive. Inappropriate hip-hop, anyone?


  1. Oh that's a hard one. I still have my wedding and engagement ring from my first marriage, and struggle with what to do with them. They're symbolic of a promise that I made in good faith, that I worked hard to fulfill, and that I eventually had to recognize was awful for me and wouldn't ever get better. I've thought about selling them and donating the money to some cause for good. But I don't want to sell them and have someone else wear them -- I feel like that's bad juju. Maybe have them melted down? I certainly don't want to pass mine onto my kids. Now, I've been divorced for 12 years and this is still bugging me. Argh!

  2. There ought to be a ceremony you could use to neutralize the mojo. Probably if you did sell it, it would be taken apart. Also, you could push out some good mojo, because anyone who bought the stone wouldn't be buying from a conflict zone.


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