I had dinner with my ex. First time I’ve seen her in a month and a half. Needless to say I was anxious before hand.
I had initiated the tête-à-tête. “We probably need to figure things out.” That was my euphemism for “we’ve been separated ten months and it probably time for us to begin the painful dividing up of the life we built together over 28 years.”
Emotionally, I was ready. My emotional evolution has been gratifying. Last April, I wore my marriage’s end like a heavy wool coat on a warm day. Weighed down, uncomfortable in my own scratchy skin, I felt unworthy, unable to appreciate my contributions to the life we together built with our three able, strong daughters.
And then I started getting better.
My mantra transformed from “I don’t deserve anything” to “I just don’t want to do anything my ex will perceive as ‘unfair.'” While I still care for my wife, my motivation in appeasing her stems from rebuilding my relationships with my daughters. I believed, and still do, that my ex has tacitly positioned me as the only reason our family is no longer intact.
For a long time I was convinced if I suggested a division Caroline did not perceive as “fair” my progress with my daughters would be set back even further. I recently got over that feeling. I realized the best thing I can do is to take care of my self. If I don’t, I will end up resentful, and angry at myself. My daughters will see it and our rebuild will be slowed down even more so.
I don’t believe, nor do I want to suggest, my ex has pursued a division that is exceptionally lopsided. She hasn’t. The most I consider her guilty of is rushing the process, but that comes out of her own fears. She has heard, as have I, how quickly this process can devolve from civility into nuclear wars. I suspect she fears that a good divorce attorney will convince me to fight for everything I am legally entitled to, rather than what is fair.
Over the evening we shared stories and a bottle of wine. We talked about the girls, their plans, trials and tribulations. It wasn’t until our plates were taken away that we discussed what made sense. Caroline agreed I should talk to a lawyer. We both agreed to then pursue mediation, a process better tailored to people in our situation, neither of us pursuing a charred earth strategy.
We ended the evening amicably, both of us sad but knowing we are doing the right thing, which made us even sadder.
The day after the dinner I was completely out of sorts. I barely wrote. I gave up mid-morning and spent most the day half-heartedly researching for something I’m working on. I feel much more in the moment today, albeit a bit hungover, but what are you going to do? Sometimes the best thing is to keep on keeping on.
Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.
P.S. The break-up scene from Annie Hall. I suspect at some point I will share the entire movie, clip by clip by clip.