If marriage was the biggest step I ever took, getting divorced was the greatest number of baby steps I have had to take.
On May 24, 2012, I appeared in court by myself to dissolve my marriage. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but since there was absolutely no saving us, I took full responsibility in putting us to rest. The very-soon-to-be former spouse, who occupied herself during our trial separation with a vacation to Britain, was, I suspect, more than happy to have me perform this duty. Jennifer Tress, in her book “Not Pretty Enough,” wrote that women often suffer the end of their marriage before a divorce, and men after. That seemed to be the case here. In an attempt to create some art out of this situation, I wore the same black suit I got married in.
On May 24, 2012, despite having friends I never knew I had (i.e., people who stepped up and showed kindness by not advising, suggesting, or analyzing ,but simply listening), I felt largely alone. At this point, post-British Invasion, there was no contact with the person who was my wife that morning and who would become my ex-wife in the evening. I presumed if she wanted to know the divorce was final, she’d contact me. I think she presumed I would report in like a good dog. Neither happened.
On May 24, 2013, a year later, I forced myself (and my dear friend Melissa, whose divorce was finalized within hours of mine in 2012) to have a “Divorciverssary.” It was largely an excuse to gather friends who had been so nice to the two of us on our respective splits, and thank them. It was also an attempt to further own the mourning process, which dragged on and on, well beyond what I’d hoped–in fact, there is no definitive timetable for mourning the loss of a loved one, even if it is at the hand of the clerk of the court. The party was a tentative toe in the water as a solo act. We ate cake, played games, and made sighs of relief tinged with melancholy. The event was celebratory, even if we did cut the cake with a knife technique favored by Anthony Perkins in “Psycho.” Nothing wrong with a little catharsis.
In 2014, Melissa and I celebrated Divorciverssary 2.0, with many of the same friends from the previous year and many more. The differences could not have been more stark. First and foremost, there was no talk about our respective exes. In fact, nobody talked about their exes (if the first party had been on Twitter, “ex-spouse” would have trended for the entire six-hour duration). Different factions of friends blended together and drifted apart like a human jazz combo. Perhaps most importantly, both Melissa and I had new VERY significant others on the scene.
So what did the second anniversary of my divorce mean? It meant living instead of surviving. It meant celebrating the continuation of the story, instead of focusing on the end of a chapter. It meant divorcing myself from any unhealthy element in my past and moving forward. It meant seeing the bigger arc of life, and how our choices – to love, to lose, to remember, to treasure, to accept – form the foundation of our futures. As such, it was a party for everyone, not two people who lost their marriages. It was a party for anyone in attendance who had lost something – which means everyone – and was still standing.
And, by the end of the night, sitting. There was a lot of wine.
Originally published at vincenttruman.net.