The day before I left with my children on a two-week vacation to the West Coast, my ex-wife brought by the paperwork. After our 90-day waiting period and each having attended the court-mandated parenting class, it was official: we were divorced.
I still struggle with the finality of much of it. There are days that it is so surreal that I’m certain I will wake up and have everything back to normal. Other days, I am completely aware of the reality of it and the grief is so great I don’t know how to go on. I spent 15 years of my life with this woman, and in a matter of months, it’s all been vaporized.
Like it never happened. Like she never really loved me. Because she didn’t.
Today, to be divorced means trying to accept my new identity, but really not wanting to.
There haven’t been many high points the last five months. I’ve cried. I’ve been in shock. I’ve had bouts of paranoia. I haven’t slept well. I’ve slept too much. I’ve been angrier than I ever have, and sadder than I thought was possible. I’ve wanted to kill her. And I’ve wanted to kill me.
But there have been a few saving graces, and my children are one of them.
Much of December and January are a blur, but one date stands out: January 4th. That’s the night we told our three children we were getting divorced. The details of that night will be a separate post, but this is about a few days afterwards.
They knew I was moving out, and they (at least my eldest) knew that money was tight. One night I came home from work and found a ziploc bag of change on my nightstand labeled “$5.00 for your house”. I immediately teared up.
I don’t remember if I ever said anything about it. I don’t know if I needed to. But I do know that it’s in my nightstand and that it will never be spent.
My children have seen sides of me in the last few months that they never have before. They don’t know all the details of what’s going on, but they know that Daddy is frustrated and sad – so they do everything they can to help out and make me smile.
Today, to be divorced means to be grateful for my children – the only part of my old life that I want to remember. They’re the best.
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.
My wife filed for divorce yesterday. Things started falling apart about a week before Thanksgiving. The holidays were a nightmare. We told our children on January 4th. I moved out a month ago. In 90 days, the divorce will be final. I still don’t really know what happened. This blog will be my process of trying to figure it out.