written November 7, 2010
There used to be a second floor apartment on a side street with only a few houses on it; a chain link fence and an old chocolate lab in the yard who liked to dig holes under the big green bushes where the birds lived and chirped loudly every morning In the upstairs apartment was a lit candle, even though it was daytime, and a glass of iced tea – Crystal Light, my favorite – with lots of ice; and a DVD ready in the player with an episode of Sex and the City.
This was all set up for when I arrived home after a stressful day with students in junior high in a behavioral school where this particular year, students who swore at me and refused work, and teachers who were so exclusive with each other that they didn’t even look my way as I sat with them at the teacher table and attempted to make small talk.
Many days I came home to this apartment crying, wishing I could quit but not knowing how else to become a teacher. But every day, I came home to him and he had readied the apartment for me in a way where after the worst days, I felt loved and cared for. And that made all the difference.
But he died.
He is still somewhere out there – two or three towns away or two or three hours away. I do not know. But he died. That person who lit a candle, set up my favorite show, and poured me ice tea with extra ice – he doesn’t exist anymore and the person who looks similar and comes in and out of my life to take our son for what the courts call “parenting time” -he is just a person who makes me nauseous. He is a person who has left me with over a year of waking up from nightmares, little rest, lots of weight loss, and a lot of hurt that has felt like being stabbed in the heart over and over. Just when I think I won’t feel any more pain, he will usually do or say something else that causes more.
There used to be a second floor apartment where I welcomed love into my life and opened myself up to the idea that I could be loved by somebody and taken care of, lovingly. I live down the street from that apartment now. But it might as well be hundreds of miles away.
Losing someone, but never getting the chance to hold them tight and say good-bye like you might if they die — that is what divorce is. The death of a person who goes on living.
When I think about the death of the man I loved and married and had a child with, it is the most excruciating form of death because he didn’t actually die. He instead caused a path of destruction that killed who I thought he was, and destroyed who I thought I have been.
His death nearly destroyed me because my belief in love has been wiped out along with my view of our relationship and our past. My feeling of safety was destroyed. A fear was created in me that even a person closest to you, your safest person, could be a predator picking off pieces of you and tossing each piece aside with a sense of hostility and hate that you never thought was possible from someone you chose to love.