from the vault
From the vault:
Allergies, humidity and a night plagued by bad dreams have all conspired to lead me to post a repeat here this morning. It's from my personal "best of" collection, which isn't to say it's a great post, or the best of anything, but something heartfelt and personal. Enjoy.
The Art of Being Divorced
There's this strange thing about being divorced. It's that you live in constant knowledge that on some level, you failed. It's a daily thing, something that never goes away, that hovers in your mind and occasionally smacks you in the face to remind you. I am an ex. Not just any kind of ex, because I've been exes before. Ex-girlfriend, ex-catholic, ex-English major, ex-Jets fan. But this ex is different because there is a legality to it that makes it binding and forever and public knowledge. I can always deny having been Jean Bergeron's girlfriend in 11th grade. It's not something I have to think about every day. But each day, when I look at my kids or put the child support payment in the bank, or see my ex at one of DJ's games or Natalie's plays, I am faced with it. I failed. Yes, he failed too. And in a much bigger way than I. And I bet he thinks about that every day, too.
I've moved on, I've rectified, I've rearranged and refurnished and adjusted nicely to my role as ex-wife. Granted, it's easier to be an ex when you are a current. I don't have to (any longer) think about being alone or lonely or making dinners for one or finding someone to have a conversation with. Hell, I did that all when I was married anyhow. My point is, some people wear the role of ex like an ill fitting suit. And some people wear it like a slinky cocktail dress. Me, I've grown from wearing that one size too small pair of pants to some real baggy comfortable overalls. And sneakers. My ex, on the other hand, still walks around like David Byrne in an oversized suit, drowning in its hugeness. It's been 4 years. 4 years officially. The marraige was all but null and void years before it became stamped on a piece of paper that it was over. And still, he can't seem to get used to the title of The Ex. Even now, with a girlfriend and potential step kids, he still looks at me like I robbed his piggy bank. He still stands at the opposite end of the field at DJ's games and sits on the other side of the auditorium at Natalie's plays.
I am a constant reminder to him of his failures. I know this. Just as he is of mine. But I try to look at it differently. While I will always and forever walk around knowing I failed in that aspect of my life, and it's a big one, I also look at him as a turning point in my life. I look at him and see what I've become since. While I will always be the an ex-wife, that is not necessarily an evil, horrible thing to carry around. Because it also means that at some point I thought more of myself than the need to be with a person who thought nothing of me. It means I rose up above the fray and gave myself a voice.
You live, you learn and you take all those lessons with you. You also take labels and tags and whatever the them in us v. them lays on you, and you make of it what you will. Once divorced, once severed from the hand that held you down, you assume the title of ex. But you get to un-assume all the titles that you hated. Fair enough trade off.
(originally posted 9/25/01)