I realized today that a few of my recent posts have been angry. I believe that anger is warranted and justified. A week before Thanksgiving my wife of 15 years told me that she never really loved me.
So yes, I’m pissed.
But I’m not pissed all or even most of the time. What I am most of the time is profoundly, acutely, and overwhelmingly sad. The anger comes in waves, maybe five or six times a week. But the sadness is an always-present undertow that tugs at me all day. It’s an unrelenting agony of despair that I don’t wish on anyone.
Often when people get divorced, it’s a mutual decision and both parties are relieved when it’s over. They grew apart, got together too young, or fell out of love. They don’t really want to get divorced, but they don’t want to stay together either. They realize this at about the same time, talk about it, and do it.
That’s not what happened to me. I was blindsided. I stood in my kitchen and listened to my wife tell me that it was over. I fought like hell for the next two months to convince her (and myself) that it wasn’t. I argued and debated. I pleaded and reasoned. I cried and begged. But she was done with me and nothing I said or did made any difference.
The only pain I can think of that could be worse than this is losing a child. I won’t equate the two, but I am mourning a loss. I’ve lost my marriage and fifteen years of my life. I’ve lost my wife, my confidant, and my best friend.
Today, to be divorced means the sadness hurts so bad I can hardly stand it.
Kramer vs. Kramer came out in 1979. A couple years later, it was on Showtime and I would occasionally catch parts of it while I was flipping channels. I was probably only 8 years old, but the movie had a profound effect on me.
I remember one scene in particular where the boy, Billy, falls from a jungle gym and hits his teeth on one of the bars. The dad, played by Dustin Hoffman, rushes over to him, scoops him up and goes for help. The boy bleeding and crying hysterically, the dad panicked but trying to keep it together, the mom nowhere to be found, all made me very scared and sad. My parents were going through their own marriage problems at the time and I wondered if I’d be the next Billy.
For better of worse, my parents stayed together. But now I have three children who could all be in that scene. My wife hasn’t left them completely, but she sure is fond of being a part-time parent. She’s “rediscovering” herself, whatever the fuck that means. I guess when you marry someone you don’t really love and feel like you’ve wasted 15 years of your life, there’s rediscovering to do. I just wish my children didn’t have to suffer for it.
She still refers to all of us a “a family” and it makes me sick. No, we’re not a family anymore. There’s me with the kids sometimes and there’s her with the kids sometimes. She broke up our family – and I hate her for it.
They used to call it “irreconcilable differences”. It was the miscellaneous, catch-all reason to divorce someone when there’s really no one at fault. There’s even a movie about it with Drew Barrymore.
I guess now it’s been updated to “grounds of incompatibility”. It doesn’t have the same Hollywood ring to it, but it means the same goddamn thing:
I don’t want to be with you anymore.
I don’t know when my wife decided we were incompatible. Maybe it was when she met Ray. Maybe it was five years ago. Maybe it was the day after our wedding. Maybe it was the night before.
She tells me that she was never really in love with me. That she only married me because I possessed many of the qualities she wanted in a husband and that she hoped the romantic feelings would develop. They never did.
She says we have no “chemistry”, whatever the fuck that means. I guess her knees don’t get weak every time I walk in the room. I guess she doesn’t get butterflies when we kiss. I guess her pussy doesn’t throb when we hold hands.
If she didn’t feel any chemistry with me, maybe she should have had the courage to say no when I proposed. That’s what a decent person would have done. But she’s not a decent person. She’s a rancid, selfish bitch who is destroying my family. I hope she gets compatible with someone soon and he treats her like garbage.
Up until two days ago, I believed my wife’s reason for divorcing me:
That she never really loved me in the first place.
But then I got this message:
I got this at work and could barely function the rest of the day. I knew something had to be going on. She talked about these classmates of hers at this Air Force training class ad nauseam, so I’m not surprised she got involved with the one she talked about the most, Ray.
Fuck you, Ray.
I don’t know if things between them ever became sexual. I haven’t confronted my wife with this revelation yet. But it really doesn’t matter. Even if it was just an emotional affair, that’s just as bad. Maybe worse. I think I would rather she have gotten drunk one night and fucked a stranger. Maybe that wouldn’t hurt so bad. Maybe that I could forgive.
I talked with Maria for about 45 minutes on Tuesday night. She seems like a sweet, loving lady. She and Ray have been married 27 years and have two children together. And he was willing to break up his family and hook up with my wife, who is breaking up ours.
They deserve each other. I hope my wife signs over her parental rights and runs off to be with him. I hope he leaves his wife and starts fucking mine. Then I hope their lives together are cursed forever and that they die horrible, painful deaths without their children around. That’s what they deserve.
Today, to be divorced means I want them to suffer.
At home (my old one, anyway) we use sound machines in our children’s bedrooms to drown out noise and help them sleep better. It’s usually white noise or the ocean or crickets or birds.
I hate the fucking bird one.
When I moved into my new place, I had trouble sleeping the first couple of nights and I couldn’t figure out why. Other than the obvious culprits of going through a gut-wrenching divorce and not sleeping under the same roof as the rest of my family, I didn’t know why I was struggling to fall asleep – and kept waking up once I did.
Then it occurred to me: It was too quiet.
Our children are ten, seven, and four. We’ve been using sound machines for a decade. Actually two for the last four years since my son was born. Our daughters share a room (that’s one sound machine) and my son has his own room (that’s the second). We leave their doors open when we sleep and it’s a small house, so my sleeping ears had become accustomed to constant, repetitive, numbing noise throughout the night.
So on night three, I turned on the white noise app on my phone before closing my eyes.
I bet I didn’t last thirty seconds.
There is comfort in that noise. Noise that reminds me of ten years of parenting. Ten years of late-night feedings, nightmares, and bed-wettings. Ten years of “I’m thirsty”, “Can you read me one more book?”, and “Daddy, why can’t I hug God?”. Ten years of having a drink together after we got them down and watching an old episode of Frasier or The Office. Ten years of sex after they fell asleep.
I hope I don’t need it forever. I hope someday I can fall asleep in the silence. But until then, I’m cutting myself some slack and using it. It makes me feel not so alone. Like I might make it through this. Like there’s hope.
I told you before how I live next door to my soon-to-be ex-wife and my children. When it’s “her days” with the kids, she allows me to stop in for a minute after I get home to say hi to them.
I text her once I get inside my place and ask if I can come over. I have to ask permission to come over to the place I lived for ten years. Then I walk about 30 feet and knock on my old front door. I hear my children inside yelling, “Daddy!” and running towards the door. My son usually gets there first and lets me in. He gives me a big hug, the kind little kids do when they jam their shoulder into your throat. He usually brings me a picture he drew for me, or wants to show me something in his room.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t live there anymore, so I feel weird just walking around wherever he wants me to go. So I stand there awkwardly and tell him I’ll have to see it another time. The girls find me. My eldest is so big and grown-up looking. She says confidently and sweetly, “Hi Daddy,” and hugs me. I ask her how her day was and she tells me something short. My middle is usually last to greet me. Not because she’s indifferent, but because she’s usually absorbed in whatever her current art project is. But then she rushes over and hugs me hard. She lifts her feet and I have to try to not fall forwards. She’s so sweet and warm and I just want to hold her forever.
The house looks different now. She’s already made a lot of changes, but even the things that are unchanged are no longer familiar. I wasn’t even moved out yet and she had a painter in there updating the color in the living room. If she had murdered me, my body would have still been warm.
Other than seeing my children, I hate being over there. It’s not mine anymore and I don’t like the memories of when it was. It’s a Bizarro World Twilight Zone of surrealism that makes me uncomfortable and sad.
I hug and kiss them all again and say goodbye and I love you. Then I leave quickly before I start crying. I don’t say goodbye to her.
When my wife decided we were beyond reconciliation, she called the owner of the house next door. The previous tenants had moved out the month prior and we knew the owner. We had seen him and his wife working on the house, getting it ready to rent. She told them the situation and asked if I could move in.
Divorce experts will tell you to live a minimum of one mile apart from each other. In addition to the obvious physical distance, this creates emotional distance and helps prevent awkwardness when the two of you start dating other people. But I wanted to be as close to my children as possible, and she knew it. The prospect of not seeing my children everyday was killing me, so against better judgment, I moved in.
It won’t be a good long-term solution. I can already see it being problematic. Last night I went outside to lift my windshield wipers off of the windshield because we were supposed to get some freezing rain and I didn’t want them to stick. Just as I was walking to my car, she was walking to hers. She was all dolled-up, ready for what I’m sure was a date.
I didn’t look over twice. I did what I needed to do and walked back inside. The tears and vomit were welling up and I didn’t want her to see whatever was about to come out of me. Somehow I made it inside and calmed down.
When it’s “her nights” with our children, I go to sleep alone in a house that’s twelve feet from my family, but it might as well be a galaxy away.