February 22, 2011
I thought my divorce was final this week (the day when the 90 day wait period is over). It was last week, the day after Valentine’s Day.
My divorce came and went without me knowing, kind of like my ex husband’s decision to end our marriage. He made the decision to end it without telling me. First, he planned his new life. Instead of talking to me, he decided instead to meet other people online, then have an affair and plan marriage and a child with someone else while I was pregnant with our child. So, my marriage ended without my knowing and my divorce was final without my noticing.
I am realizing the date now because I am at the courthouse waiting in line for a certified copy of the paper stating that I can change my last name; not realizing the one given to me three months ago was an “unofficial” copy. That day I left the courthouse, the 90 day wait beginning, hugged my lawyer, and walked away for what I thought would be the last time in a long time.
I am back here now, 90 days later, waiting in line for a certified copy of a piece of divorce paper and I see the ghost of myself in that courthouse waiting area – family court section- so many times over the last year and a half. Battle after battle waiting in that hallway because my cheating soon-to-be-ex spouse just couldn’t seem to make choices that gave any assurance that my son was safe with him as I sure wasn’t.
I didn’t ask family to join me for any of those battles. This was mine to face and luckily I had a great lawyer who always stayed nearby while I waited, giving me a pat on the shoulder when I tried to casually hide my face so that I could cry.
The things you read about affairs, about divorce, will give this wisdom: “you will get through it.” My cousin, who had been a welcome addition to my team of “advisors” (my lawyer, my family, and some new friends at work), had told me to remember that this was a marathon. And to prepare myself for a long run, not just small sprints. I was reminded, when I felt like I wouldn’t, that it was a marathon and I’d get through it.
Going through a divorce with a man who cheated on me while pregnant is like being in a constant state of nervousness and nausea, worrying when the next fight will be via text message or email. Panicking, fearing that – now that I’ve realized I didn’t know this person at all – what else is he capable of? While he touched my pregnant belly and held my hand, meanwhile texting, emailing, and meeting in hotels with another woman whom he was telling all about the pregnancy – what the hell else is he capable of?
Divorcing a man like this is a living nightmare. A constant feeling of shaky hands and nauceous stomach. Doing other things like work or grocery shopping but never ever feeling truly in the moment. Never really present in any moment because one big part of me is in waiting for the next part of the fight, or some new issue to fight about. Or even the agony of choosing whether or not to fight.
Post-divorce from a man like this? It’s a little bit of relief but still a looming fear of the next fight.
As I pay for my certified divorce document and leave, I see others now waiting. I see some man who I think I saw during my own days of waiting. I think he was loud and obnoxious and as I waited for my own case to be heard, it was that kind of man that made me feel so angry that I had been led to a place that involved people types like him.
I leave and drive away, lucky to have found a meter spot right outside. I see all the ghosts of myself in and out of that court house. I put my certified copy on the seat next to me, and I head towards the next place on the list for changing my name.