Seven and a half months ago, I stood before a judge and was compelled to state in clear English and for the public record, the hardest sentence I have ever spoken aloud. It was sentence I heard in my head for 10 years. It was a sentence others had said to me for at least 8 years. It was never spoken for the public record.
Until this day, I said it to myself to see if I believed it. Friends muttered it to me hoping to help without incurring my wrath.
You see, that day, I gained a title that I will never fully understand. I became an ex-husband.
I don’t believe in divorce, yet there I was. The judge asked us what the reason was for separation and this fear filled me. I didn’t want to say it. It made me feel dirty. I said “We grew apart.” Apparently that was nowhere near good enough. I looked pleadingly at my wife to save me.
She looked at me and said “It’s for you to say.” It’s like I was drowning in quicksand and she just threw a bundle of rope on top of me without tying it off to anything.
I looked at the judge and swallowed hard. “She was in love with someone else.” Saying those words was like taking the pieces of my broken heart that I’d been forced to walk around on barefoot for years and eating them, one razor sharp piece of glass at a time.
“I guess that would do it” said the judge and it was over. I was something I never thought I’d be. It had been over a year since I had moved out of the bedroom and still the moment that gavel hit the desk something changed.
Some things never change. To this day I don’t want anyone to think worse of the woman than I do. That is the fear that gripped me that day. I know I have every right to hate her and perhaps I should, but I understand too well that there was much more to the situation than her just falling for someone else. I know that sounds like simple denial, but one day, perhaps, I will share more of the story and you will agree, but trust me, it is a story worthy of being discussed on Friday the 13th.
Looking back at this day, I realize that my wife was the one in the quicksand and she still threw the entire bundle of rope at me. I threw back an end though.
That is the saddest thing about this story. I said “was.” I meant it. It was not a random word, but an important admission. You see, shortly after I moved out of the bedroom I saw a change in my wife. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking to some degree, but I think there was a fundamental change. I think she saw that she wasn’t in love with this other person. I think she saw that she only wanted me.
It breaks my heart now, as it did then. It was too late. It wasn’t like I was nursing a grudge. It was like the nerves were dead and I was numb to it. I had waited years to hear her say one sentence that she eventually told me. I had waited years. And when she said it, I felt no joy. I didn’t even feel relief. I didn’t feel love, I didn’t even feel validated. I felt nothing. Sometimes some of the beautiful and amazing women I know say something it just stops me in my tracks as a million dead pathways in my brain shimmer back to life. Not that night. I said “ok…” and I meant it.
Nine days later, I was offered a high five and I felt my entire brain begin to tingle as nerves I thought long dead began to shimmer back to life. Oh how it brought back the Anna’s . I guess I should explain the Anna’s. I guess that will be tomorrow’s topic.