I am that girl.
That may make no sense to you, or it may make all the sense in the world. I’m that girl who was successful, accomplished, sporting two degrees, two beautiful children, one glorious husband and two great homes. I’m that girl who believed in love and fairy tales, who was happily-ever-after married, who had met her soul mate, who also was her best friend, and dedicated herself to him entirely.
I’m also that girl whose marriage ended with a brick
Yip…that girl. The girl that the universe just can’t help but fuck with.
You see, I heart symbols. Always have. Being a writer, they’re my turn-on of choice.
So when I opened up the picture in my then-husband’s email — the picture of a brick inscribed with gut-wrenching, soul-twisting, ugly, evil words — well, the symbol was too strong to not feel somehow tricked by some higher power.
I mean, come on: It hit me like a ton of bricks; to hit your head against a brick wall; to be thick as a brick; to be talking to a brick wall.
As my face turned pale and all the saliva disappeared from my mouth, I saw a cartoon of all the famous “brick” clichés, playfully bouncing around the 18-inch monitor in front of me, torturing me with all their mortar malice.
All the sayings — every one of them that quickly made its way into and out of my brain at the moment my life changed forever — every one of them talked about being stupid, doing pointless things or being blindsided.
There it was: the heartless universe, laughing at me hysterically. Bitch.
So at this point, perhaps I need to share some details about the brick. First it was one of those commemorative bricks that businesses use as a fundraiser, placing them outside of special locations adorned with family names and trite messages — you’ve seen them outside of Disneyland, or your local planetarium, or an aquarium, or any other business ending in “ium,” for example.
The picture of this brick was attached to an email conversation between my then-husband and a sales rep from his old high school in Oregon, which the hubby had attended with his childhood sweetheart (an aside that didn’t even cross my mind as I read the exchange, though it’s important now for context). Apparently, my adoring husband had bought a brick. I read the email with interest, because he indicated to this gentleman that it was a Christmas present, but he said “we” wouldn’t get up to see it until after the snows.
I got all excited. He bought me a brick? Seemed an odd gift … but hell, I figured: If diamonds are made from coal, maybe something equally sexy comes from brick.
Not so much. That was me, being thick as a brick.
When I clicked the attachment, the image of a brick-colored brick (so original) with a brass plate sporting sans-serif letters appeared, inscribed with the following:
John Dumbass* ’92
Marilyn Bitch* ’94
Always and Forever
* Names changed to protect the far-from-innocent.
As you can probably figure out based on the “author” name at the top of this blog, I am not Marilyn Bitch. But the part you may not be able to figure out as easily is that Jack Dumbass was my then-husband … of 10+ years. He and I had been together for 13 years — more than 1/3 of my life — and yet his name was positioned on top, in a very traditional missionary position over her name, and inscribed in stone.
Me? I just had the flimsy piece of cardstock called a marriage license. I was devastated at the irony.
That brick changed my life. In one fell swoop, or one view of a haplessly misfiled e-mail picture, I had seen the end of my marriage in all its stunning flat-screen glory.
The rest, as they say, is history. But it’s still recent history to me, as the brick hit me over the head only a few days after Christmas in 2007. Since then, what has occurred looks nothing like the popular conceptions of divorce prescribe. In fact, it’s been just the opposite.
I’m a mature woman. I thought he was a mature man. Yet we’re definitely not walking our two children to school together, him holding hands with our daughter, her holding hands with her big brother, her big brother holding hands with me, the four of us still connected like a paper cut-out against a sunny horizon.
Nope. It’s been sheer chaos, utter hell, the worst days of my life.
And here I am sharing my story with you, because I, my friends, am an expert on how to handle this. (Not really.) Perhaps I can help you live through a divorce gracefully. (That’s a total lie.) Because I have been the idyllic image of honesty, above-boardedness (I just made that word up — because I can…) and grace. (I wish.)
Sometimes I lie just to make myself feel better. That’s one of my coping mechanisms.
Actually, here I am a little more than two years later, and I feel like I have a story to tell. I’ve been silent too long — mostly out of sheer guilt (self-imposed and other-imposed, but mainly by the two people who I’m sure feel terrified at the thought of a mortifying combination of my words, their actions and the one venue afforded by this blog).
I need to say it again: I’ve been silent far too long.
This blog will be my honest, sometimes irreverent attempt to offer insights into the complexity of divorce with shared custody; with dealing with the subsequent forced reinvention that occurs post-divorce; with coping when your heart is ripped from your chest every other week as your kids sob, telling you they want nothing more than to stay with you forever and never leave.
I have learned so much, yet I still have much to learn. I am stronger in many ways, but so much weaker in others. Hell, I think the most commitment I will ever again exercise is choosing one and only one shampoo to place in my shower. That was a HUGE step.
And that just happened yesterday.
But the other shampoos still live in my closet with all the other old bottles of makeup, lotion, body wash, etc. that I don’t use but maybe someday will desperately, immediately need again — and they will make another appearance once the “chosen” shampoo lets me down … which it inevitably will.
(I’m looking at you, Big Sexy Hair. Typical shampoo.)
I hope you’ll join me in this journey — and forgive me for once in a while selfishly sharing seemingly mindless details that I just NEED to share. I promise, though, this will not become an endless rant or a place to bash; instead, I’m hoping to focus on reinvention — on what I call “Me 2.0” (more on than in a later post).
I do hope you’ll offer your thoughts, send feedback, call me names, spread the word. There are too many of us who feel guilty because “forgiveness” is the ultimate goal or because “you can make this work if you just try.”
Bullshit. I’m living proof.
Apparently, there is an old Irish proverb that reads, “A grudge is a beautiful thing.”
Maybe I’ll put that on a brick. Then toss it in the general direction of a certain Dumbass and his Bitch. (Symbolically speaking, of course…)
Take that, Universe. I’m that girl, now…