Truth is, I like hanging out with Serge. He’s been my best friend for 10 years and yeah, sure, a lot of those years were harder than sitting through one of those Twilight movies, but you don’t eat and sleep and live and breathe with someone for that long without developing your own language. Like women living together whose periods sync up, Serge and I were synced up in a lot of ways. Not in sync enough to make marriage work, clearly, but in a lot of ways, we worked. Food, TV, political perspectives, similar humors — all the stuff that is mortar for regular friendships, but isn’t necessarily enough to make a marriage work.
So it’s difficult now, when I’m alone, when the loneliness spreads throughout my body like a virus, when I don’t know what to do with myself and I’m tempted to call him to relieve the pressure of the great restlessness pressing my soul. We hung out quite a bit throughout the summer. With the kids and without. Habit, maybe? The thought that reconciliation might be a possibility? Most of the time it was nice. Most of the time it was confusing. I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do, but when your loneliness is strangling you and you start flailing about for any kind of human connection you sometimes end up contacting the one person with whom you should probably be erecting boundaries, not inviting on a bike ride.
In all fairness, some of our hanging out was not strictly social, but done surrounding our respective moves to new homes. We were each key in helping the other get settled, and also helping our kids adjust in a collaborative way. Other times we got together to take our kids places: dinners, fairs, the library, school activities. And because I have this vision in my head of a successful divorce, being together felt good — a demonstration to our children that all is still right in our world even if it isn’t. They benefited greatly from that togetherness. It wasn’t like one minute Mom and Dad were together and the next we were doing the kid shuffle in the parking lot of a gas station while trading stink eyes. It was a very nearly seamless transition. Most of the time, now, it just seems like the new normal. Other times Violet or Henry will tell me they like Dad’s house better. Serge promises me they say the same thing to him and that kind of thing is to be expected.
But we can’t go on hanging out like that forever, can we? It confuses things, it confuses people, specifically us. Two steps forward, one step back. A divorce can be so positive that it messes with your head, makes you question yourself even though you know damn well why you’re getting a divorce. That’s the one negative to a positive divorce, I guess. The confusion. I still love Serge. But I also see where we don’t work in very crucial ways that are hard to articulate to those who don’t know us. At least the people dealing with messier divorces know exactly where they stand. But that kind of angry hateful attitude doesn’t make sense to me: kid exchanges conducted around hissed insults that can still be heard by young ears. Nonsense.
Recently, he has started to avoid me. Messages me only when necessary, all business, no inquiries into my well-being. While it makes me feel bad, rejected even, despite the fact that I’m the one who initiated the separation, I understand what he’s doing. I get it. He needs to disengage. Move on. The thought of him moving on, of him asking another woman on a date, makes me freeze. My brain just stops working. But it is all a part of the inevitable. I expect him to fall in love again. I expect it before I expect it for myself. He’s a romantic, a lover, a sensitive soul. I’m all rough edges and splinters. So he is pulling away and I miss him. Miss watching our shows, miss hearing him sing ridiculous, made-up songs while he cooks dinner, miss watching him be silly with our children. But I can’t rely on him to alleviate loneliness, even if our togetherness also helps mitigate his own loneliness. I have to face it head on. This is my life now. Half of the time I am alone. It’s a tough pill to swallow after 10 years of togetherness. It’s effing terrifying. Some people who should be divorced end up choking on the pill and spitting it back out, choosing bad marriages over loneliness and fear of the unknown. I can’t do that. I have to focus hard on the people we are becoming as a result of our separation and I like those people. Hell, I love those people, am proud of those people like I never was while married.
I can feel our divorce entering a new phase. It saddens me. It scares me. Sometimes the fear is paralyzing but all I can do is take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other.More On