The Violent Sobbing

I’ve heard and used the term “grief” my entire life. Until recently, I’ve always equated it with sadness with a dash of loss thrown in. Like, worse than being sad, but not a lot worse. However, a couple nights ago, I was properly introduced to grief. I am now acutely aware of its complete meaning – and it’s way worse than sadness.

My fingernails grow very thin and sharp. I have to cut them almost twice a week to keep them under control. I let them go too long between trims recently, and I paid the price.

Two nights ago, something came over me that was different than the usual sadness I have been experiencing the last five months. It was overwhelming, physically painful, and scary. I don’t remember what triggered it, but I started crying.

Hard.

It was about loss. Loss of my marriage. Loss of my family. Loss of my ability to be with my children every day. Loss of future plans. Loss of hope.

The sobs were big and they hurt. I alternated clenching my jaw and cursing her existence. I was hunched over and couldn’t straighten up. I was heaving uncontrollably, with my face in my hands. For part of it, I screamed. For part of it, I couldn’t make a sound. Sweat, tears, and snot poured out of my face onto my hands and lap. I couldn’t stop. I just let it come. This was grief.

I fucking hate her. I fucking hate her! I FUCKING HATE HER!

Several times my hands jerked around my face as if I wasn’t in control of them. During one of these spasms, the nail on my right index finger sliced my forehead. I remember it stinging, but didn’t think much of it. The sobbing went on for probably five minutes, which doesn’t seem that long when I type it out, but it felt like forever. Then it was over.

Once I could get myself together, I went to the bathroom to wipe my face and blow my nose. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was shocked. I looked at my face and the blood on my forehead for a long time. This was part of the process.

I don’t like what’s happening, but I am working through it as best I can. I’m not exaggerating anything, but I’m also not trying to suppress anything, deny anything, or be tough.

So today, to be divorced means grieving. Grieving properly in order to heal properly.

Kramer vs. Kramer

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.

Today, to be divorced means I hate her.