It’s over. It’s been officially over for two months and counting, and the dust of my divorce has settled around me like a gauzy, mesh, cheesecloth.
In many ways I feel lighter and more free than I have in ages. I can see the cracks of light in my life where mere months ago, it was complete darkness. Liberated from lawyers and freed from the unyielding anxiety that surrounded the ambiguous resolution. I can finally breathe again without the idling shadows of doubt in the corners of my mind. Yet, I still find myself cloaked in a weary, foamy, film from the past; a translucent wrapping, making things clear but unfocused. I am freer, my emotions more unburdened, but still I’m tethered to a leftover rawness that comes from the emotional branding iron of divorce.
I suppose what I’m referring to is what most would consider “emotional baggage” but it seems so much more than that. To me, emotional baggage is a splice of pain or persuasion of an emotion attached to a specific event or trigger. Instead, this feels like a way of being that does not dissipate with the changing of the hour or setting. A modern day scarlet letter meant to plague me as punishment for my poor past decisions; it has become an inherent part of my identity, unshakable and indelible.
Divorced. The label lingers, always; unrelenting. Even when I have a fleeting feeling of complacency, the guilt of the past is always perched upon my shoulder, like a bird of prey, with it’s talons pinching at my flesh as a reminder of the collateral damage that I have collected along this rogue journey to “finding my myself.”
Most of the time, I can logically look around at my life as it stands today and give myself a silent nod of conviction that I, indeed, made the right choice by leaving my former, married, life. But even in my strongest moments where I have myself convinced that there was no other option than to walk out that door, something sad and dark and questioning always hovers. It reminds me of the of the damage I have caused to everyone from my own self to The Ex to those who were left in the rubble to grieve the loss of of the singular being that was once “us.” All of which, was caused by my irrefutable mistake of indulging in a seemingly simple fantasy that both ended and started with the words ‘I do‘. And now, in the aftermath, there is always a reminder; always a twinge of elementary school-like pain, rooted in the embarrassment over simply being different and having made a foolish error. I feel chastised and scolded: you knew better and that’s not yours. Happiness was not mine for the taking. I should have known.
The reminders linger like a hangover well past it’s typical life expectancy, despite all of the water, sleep and aspirin you have babied it with. And even in the brief periods where I can summon enough light to chase these shadows from my mind, I then find myself clumsily tripping over it in everyday life, unanticipated and unprepared in how to respond.
It is there every time the warm blush creeps into my cheeks as I am forced to check off the ‘DIVORCED‘ box on a registration form. It preens itself quietly in the corner at the restaurant of, yet another, first date where I dance around the subject of divorce and a relationship that consumed most of my adult life. It lives in the hollows of my heart as I smile through office conversations about conventional living; Saturdays spent at Home Depot, appliance repair, the trials and tribulations of in-laws, spousal complaints that are still filled with some underlying, sorted, affections.
I remember how I once lived that life. I too once had spouted my marital grievances in casual conversations; complaints of dirty socks stowed between couch cushions, empty glasses with filmy milk bottoms left unsoaked, unwillingness to shovel the driveway with the urgency I needed or the lackluster romance in how he would present a home cooked meal, as if it were any other night, on special occasions. How I hated that life; how I miss that life. Smooth and easy with no rough edges. Numb and unfeeling, but comforting in the ebbs and flows that continually circled like the old grooves of a record.
In a strange way, at the time, I was proud that I had something largely coveted by so many others, even if in the depths of my soul I felt a lingering listlessness of a life unfulfilled. I had a life of importance and decision, metered in it’s marital tones, and part of me misses that path even if it were the wrong one. Then again, when I let my thoughts float back to my marriage, I do not have a clear recollection, as if I am viewing my memories through a warped looking glass; certain feelings heightened or diminished though I know, logically, it is was not always the reality.
And now here I am. Sequestered in my dark apartment, free to do as I please but only because of lack of a caring audience. The same place that once marked my long coveted freedom now feels stifling in it’s isolation. I have exactly what I asked for and none of the satisfaction to show for it. Now that I am at the place that I have so long strode for, what do I do? It’s as if I have finally crossed this long-awaited finish line only to face a brick wall of impossible proportions.
It occurs to me that the brick wall is only in my mind; a mere figment of my imaginary fears. And perhaps and it’s time for a rest. So I sit down, fingers running through the soft grass, prop myself up against that wall and decide it’s time to stop running this race.
I close my eyes. Hold my breath. And wait for another day; a day where my strength is renewed and my resolve is strong. The day where I can move in stride with the world around me instead of trying to outrun it. The day where life ahead doesn’t look quite so clouded; a lazy hologram gleam off the road on a hot summer’s day. The day where I will start my new life.
After all, we all have so many lives to live.