Oh my goodness, so much. So much to tell. I’ve started FOUR epically long posts over the past couple of months, but then I leave them for a week and they’re obsolete! Well, maybe not obsolete, but definitely outdated. Maybe one day when they’re mining the internet for clues about how humanity disappeared (who are “they?”), they’ll run across my nest of half-hatched blog posts and be like, “Wow, this gal really had some good ideas! I wonder what happened to her…” And I’ll be in a parallel universe, watching with a bowl of popcorn, because that is what I want to see––other people seeing me. Facebook knew we all wanted to be voyeurs to our own lives, that’s why they made the option to see your profile as __________ sees it. Zoom knew it, that’s why they have “self view.” We’re all so freakin’ obsessed with ourselves, it’s amazing!!
Anyway, if you can’t already tell, I am in a mood. Shit is getting stirred up in this little brain of mine, and I’m doing my best to strike while the iron’s hot, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, if possible. I have been bobbin’ around in some nasty-ass stagnating soap scum for too long, and I am DUN. So here is a list of some things I’m releasing from my life:
• Christianity––OVER IT,
• Fear of Divorce––GET OUTTA HERE,
• Excess Sugar––YOU’RE DONE,
• Dead Names––GOODBYE,
• Body Shame––I HATE YOU,
• Bi Denial––YUP, GIT,
• Overworking––AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH!
My heavens, that felt good! Yes, yes, yes!! I’m shAkin’ things up again guys! This gal is Sick and Tired of sitting in a puddle of potential! I’m ready to ROAR back to life! PUNCH through this barrier of rationalization and procrastination and get BACK ON TRACK. What track? MY track. The track that feeds me and fuels me to do great and noble things. The track I was “meant” to be on––the one that is laid out for me, in front of me, inviting me and leading me. It’s spiritual, and it’s so me. How did I drift so far?? And why oh why do I not realize it when I’m drifting??
Somehow though, mysteriously, I am always able to recognize when I get back on the right track––it’s a gut and an all-whelming feeling––a sense of absolute rightness in the moment, energy and momentum to move forward, resolve and commitment to myself, and a feeling of total and complete calm. Like a ship that’s been righted. Equilibrium has a very distinctive presence––it’s unmistakable. Sometimes I stumble onto it, and other times, like this time, it’s taken major effort over a long period of time to get to it. But I’m here, and it’s good to be here.
How did I drift so far off course though, is what I want to know. But I think I do know. See, this thing happens when I get into a serious relationship, and it’s probably because of our patriarchal society, my super-Conservative Christian upbringing, and some innate laziness (let’s be honest) but when I encounter someone I’m really attracted to, I may bond with them and experience intimacy for a time, but once it gets uncomfortable, I back away and settle into a comfortable orbit around them. Because orbiting is so much easier than bonding. Takes so much less energy!
Unfortunately, what that means is that I am no longer self-centered––rotating on my own axis, if you will. I’m dependent on the other person’s gravity (approval). They give me identity and worth. If they like something, I make myself like it too. If they indicate they don’t like something I’ve done, I punish myself for it. If they’re troubled, I drop everything and their trouble becomes my trouble.
I thought that I wouldn’t have this problem with Adam (my current partner), because I always saw him as an equal––not someone I would/should trust more than I trust myself. But I did, before long. And I hated myself for it, and started building resentment toward him. Objectively, I will say he is better at life than me. He saves money, he eats well, he’s careful and whatever the opposite of “spontaneous” is. He’s totally winning.
So anyway, I definitely started orbiting Adam somewhere along the line. Because I guess I need a “Winner” to approve of me, so that I, too, can be a Winner? Pathetic, right? Plebeian af. Like, could I be a more stereotype needy girlfriend, yuck! Even in my sick orbit, I knew that it was wrong, and I rebelled as hard as I could without breaking orbit. Instead of copying Adam, I decided to do the opposite of whatever he did. And instead of agreeing with everything he said, I decided to argue with him on every point. Maybe this, in my mind, would free me from my enslavement.
Guess what it didn’t. And I just got more and more… involved UGH. It hasn’t been a steady downhill slope, but between normal ups and downs, I have incrementally inched into total codependency with him and DAYM that bathwater nasty. Time to get out. Of codependency, that is. Not [necessarily] the relationship.
That was a ramble… where was I? My list? Hm. I guess I’m already talking about the relationship, so I might as well start with “Fear of Divorce.” I might write a book with that as the title one day. Big and heavy words, those. And an understatement at that! I know they resonate with a lot of people, because I’ve talked to a lot of people, and exactly zero of you knew what you were getting into when you got married. Even though we totally should, because we should learn from our past mistakes so that when the problem comes around again (it always does), we won’t make the same mistake twice!
But see with marriage, it would appear that we’re so fucking DUMB, we don’t even learn from it in the first place, let alone pass it on to the next generation. And we even compound the experience because, as a culture, we perpetuate the VICIOUS LIE that (if you find “the right person”) being in a long-term committed relationship is the First-Place Golden Fuckin’ Trophy of Life. The pot of gold at the end of the long trek to Mordor. The never-ending romance that we all so deeply crave. We just can’t let go of that fantasy, I guess.
Anyway, Adam is a very private person––he doesn’t like talking about personal things with anyone (myself included), and he definitely doesn’t like it when I share things about our relationship with anyone (especially strangers). So I want to see if I can straddle the line between honoring his wishes, while also being true to myself. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m going to do my best, and err on the side of me this time.
I am an open book, online, in-person, and any way you might encounter me. My opinion is that the more honest we are, the more “enlightened” our experiences of life are, and I, for one, want as much of my life to be enlightened as possible. The word says it so well––”enlighten,” if you take away the stigma of Buddhism, literally it means to make your burden less! Carrying around a whole ME on the inside, but only sharing it in tiny amounts to certain people is HARD and HEAVY. Wearing your heart on your sleeve of course is risky, but the opposite––keeping it locked away is even riskier! As in––you risk living life without your heart! (The saddest kind of life! And you don’t even know it!)
So I’m going to try and do right by Adam, but I’m done keeping the subject of our relationship in the dark.
My mom has always said that it’s better to be nice than right, which I like, because it pits ego against love, and I think most of us can agree that love is the winner in that scenario. But to me, it’s even more important that I be honest––even brutally honest––than nice or right. And by “honest,” what I’m talking about is true to myself. Honestly, openly, vulnerably me, no matter where I am in life. It sucks to wake up one day and realize that you aren’t yourself. But I guess the fact of having the realization is me calling out to me. It’s the “still, small voice” that will never go away, thank goodness.
I am being so rambly, I love it.
So back to FEAR OF DIVORCE… it is such a twentieth century thing! Hell, marriage itself is old hat. But just to be clear, I’m not talking about “Divorce,” I’m talking about the fear of divorce. The taboo of even talking about divorce. Ever since I got married, and probably even before, I’ve been terrified of divorce. And it’s obvious why. When you believe that your identity can only be validated by your partner, life apart from them can look pretty scary! Add on top of that the DNA-encoded belief that “God hates divorce” (read: God hates you if you get a divorce), and the social stigma that you’re a failure if you weren’t able to make your marriage work, and you have got a recipe for Long-Term Relationship Hell.
Which is where I’ve been for too long. And I’m coming out. Because divorce is nothing to be scared of, and even if it was, I’m sure it’s better than the emotional tar pit that is codependency! I’m not saying it should be an easy or quick decision, but ultimately it is just a decision. Sometimes (often), I realize that Fear of Divorce has been taking up so much mental and emotional space that I’m not even thinking about Adam and my relationship at all! When I can clear away that anxiety and put a pause on obsessive self-shaming, that‘s when I can see the matter clearly, and that’s where I want to be before making any long-term decision, if possible.
Fortunately for Adam, I like him a lot. Unfortunately for both of us, I’m only just now starting to mature a little bit, and the metamorphosis that I feel happening to me is accentuating the immature bonds we’ve made over the years. I won’t go into it any of our issues now, but I will say, we are not the happy couple we appear to be (do we? idk). And who knows, maybe we’ll separate eventually! I’m in no hurry, personally. I want to give it as much time and energy as it needs, without the nagging presence of Fear of Divorce hanging around.
So here I am, officially declaring it: I am not afraid of divorce!! Fuck your taboo!! Get off my lawn!! I am fully capable of making informed decisions about my life without your phony-ass, dogma-soaked mountain of lies weighing me down!!! Now be on your way or I’ll call the cops!!!
There! That felt good. Now I can get on with the actual business of looking at the facts and determining whether or not Adam and I should stay together. FUN. Whatever, it’s fine. It’s not like I haven’t already been doing this for the past seven years anyway. Now I just get to do it outloud. Poor Adam. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he married me! But also, poor me. Poor everybody ffs, marriage SUCKS.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my dirty laundry! I’ve got tons more where that came from! But I think this post has gone on long enough. Come back next week and get an earful about how Christianity FUCKED ME UP. Or maybe I’ll talk about my new name, I haven’t decided yet. Anyway, thanks for reading, as always. If you feel led, please leave me a comment or send me an email! I always love to hear from you!
5 thoughts on “Fear of Divorce”
“Carrying around a whole ME on the inside, but only sharing it in tiny amounts to certain people is HARD and HEAVY.” This part really resonated. I admire that you bring your whole self to the table. I’m definitely someone who only shares certain parts of myself with certain people, and it leads to the feeling that very few people in my life know me deeply. I have been working on this for years and still often feel that I am holding back. Your authenticity is a gift.
Love this. And that George Costanza screengrab LOLOL
Carla, it’s so great to read one of your blogs again. Very thoughtful post, which I appreciate. I remember getting married oh-so-many years ago and pretty flippantly thinking, if it doesn’t work out , I’ll just get divorced. Have definitely wandered into that area before and really came back stronger, curiously.
As someone who has been defining what a “good divorce” can look like, and whether we are really meant to be partnered for life (my throat just closed…why??), I’ve been pondering whether the key is not so much the promise “till death do us part”, but “I will tell you if I want out and promise to never pretend” is the greater (and harder) commitment to make. Keep going…you’re onto something.
Your words are beautiful and poignant as always