Divorce came first, depression later.
After building a life together, it was shocking that the loss was more in the imagined future, than in the loss of anything real. The questioning of the rational resource logistics was most of the worry. The rebuilding was in imagining anything else for what life could be. Surprising — though it seems obvious — was the reentry to love.
The fairy tale was over. It did not work out. The prince was not charming & the princess wasn’t playing fair.
The fighting & resistance had its ups & downs, and this didn’t compare to how it felt to bring the self back into relationship solo. To focus on self care and admit trauma. To understand what it was like to give up on commitment. To fail at being there, being a supportive partner. There were vows, and after a short while, it was only the breaking of these that brought tears.
Everyone divorces for their own reasons, and maybe it would have been easier to divorce immediately after she had cheated, but that would be giving up, early. We’d barely been married a year, and you knew this about her. There had been other times and years of abuse before the vows, and you still took them. You agreed to be there at the end of every fight; it made it possible to explore. This story was part of it. Our love was grander. This story was all of it, and reentry meant writing a new story.
Only time would teach: There was no writing your own story — life always played out as it did, regardless of intentions. Leaning too much into your identity made failure too devastating. It was too confusing to constantly reinvent yourself, and pushing forty, who really gave a shit about your boyish escapades. How many new girls, new jobs, and new homes could people stand. Friends and family only had so much tolerance for failure at life in general circumstances. Maybe something extraordinary had to happen, or health — health problems would be ok — but failure to work it out between adults, this was the wasting of time.
The regretted parties, the wedding, the gifts, the house, the change of everything again. Living in this space was enough. Subjecting your support system to this stress was something else.
You barely deserved it, and you brought it on yourself. There was no one else responsible. Who else could be? Well…her. She could be, and that wasn’t fair. You chose her. You kept accepting her. You tried…Yoda — there was no try, only do or do not, and now we did not have a life together, or anything else to worry about except the assets & liabilities. The payouts and payoffs. The fuck you’s and fuck me’s. We could barely handle that shit when we were together. Now — with more importance — handling all the shit, risk unmediated…with a lying, cheating, thief.
No, really, she was. Got a letter about her stealing from the local Hannaford. Memories of the looks, the comments, the criticisms of buying anything.
Chris said to tell people, “Mental health is a real problem in this country,” and we gave up on her. They were symptoms, signs of some underlying condition. Some trauma unhealed. Something to work through together. She could handle your shit, why couldn’t you handle hers…and now it would be for someone else to help work through on both sides, for this consciousness had split. This couple had fractured, and now with relationships new or old, there would be the issue of reentry — coming back into.
What was the coming back to?
Was it self or other?
So much advice on working on the self.
What did you need?
What if the need was connection? To be heard? To be understood and loved unconditionally? What happens when you choose to leave someone after eight years, the person who invested in you? You consciously say no, I do not want your love & caring.
It wasn’t as bad as you remember it. What about all the good things? Are you sure? You spent so much time and money and emotion already, maybe just stick it out. No one said these things to me — and I hadn’t even shared the worst of it — but I said them to myself too many times to count.
Leaning in at these times, I had to trust the impression of friends and family. Not a single person, not even Skyler, said to stay, and Skyler knew that hot girls were crazy, “Don’t you like dating hot women?” Throwing stuff comes with the brand. How could attractive women grow up in America without abuse? Half of all women were abused and the other half were under fucked.
There was something seriously flawed with the relationships between men & women, and now to give up, to say: I do not accept your abuse, I do not accept your trauma. This was too much. This caused it’s own trauma. This was the pain of reentry — how to accept the suffering of love without the fear of abuse, of taking, of being played. How to give it all again to someone new. How to say yes and leave room for no. Is there an emotional safe word? Can a man claim it’s too much to be there for your darkness? I don’t need to know what the other men did. I don’t need to think about how I’m just someone else’s bastard. I don’t want you to put me in a pile with them. I don’t want to be another cock intrusion you tolerate. Something better than rape.
I don’t want to be one step, or any steps, above rape.
I want to be the pedestal for you to stand on and the cock you want to fuck. I want you to choose me not because I’ll break you less, and not because I’ll put you back together, but because I make you whole. I want union, endless making of love and no gap, no desires unfulfilled and nothing taken, only love received, endless, boundless love made between.
I’m sorry he did that. I can only bear so much, and I know you’ve bared so much more.
I am weak, so weak, or lazy, or maybe just unwilling to sacrifice my sense of self and personal interest, to put on hold all my desires while you heal. I am garbage. I am not the great man. I hoped to be. I fucked you, and I failed to love you without condition. I’m just another man to use you for being a woman. Just another man to not handle his sex and yours.
How many more times will this play out?
There’s biology and then there’s recognition of consciousness embodied. The gender roles played out again and again. “You’re only in this for sex.”
Donovan, married for 26 years, and when his wife dies, he’s still out looking for sex the next week. “You know Michael, there are so many women under fucked. And ugly girls, you know, they have the best pussy.”
Divorce, death, what did it matter?
She said, “I just don’t feel it and goddamn if I’m going to have another man make me feel something I don’t feel.”
I was your husband, not just another man, and I’m talking about caring, not fucking. Why is it always about sex? I thought I let that go long ago, but, fuck, I don’t think I ever did. Not until after. Not until reentry. Not until more reflection. And how is this how we learn about ourselves: using relationships as mirrors? Do we really need to play it out again and again on others? Can one really develop on their own? Without feedback? Without the kindness of another, can we ever know ourselves?
I heard Wittgenstein went crazy alone on the fjord. I’m not sure if he had a mirror, and would it have mattered? Seeing your own reflection wasn’t the same. There had to be the interaction between.
Last night I had a dream. She was with Bryan, a boy she always craved sexual healing from, and all I could see then was someone who wanted to fuck my wife. She always hated the possessive nature of marriage, and I never asked for an open relationship. Our bodies were for us to share with each other. She craved cuddling with him. We all know where cuddling leads, and the thought — the knowing — she would surrender to him as she had to me so many times before, it was too much to bear.
In this dream, Bryan confronted me, and in typical bro fashion, came at me. I held back every urge to engage physically, and while steeling my restraint, she quietly whispered for me to kill myself. Then dream Bryan started saying this over and over, eventually shouting at me, “Why don’t you just kill yourself!? Kill yourself Michael! Just kill yourself! Go ahead. Just do it. No body cares about your story.” At this point, I walked away and woke up.
Now, I already knew some part of me had to die in order to reenter love, but I didn’t think all of me did. Maybe that’s what this whole thing was about though:
Letting go of all the wild stories and past tales.
Letting Michael fully die in order to form new relationships. Letting Michael fully die so he could stop writing bullshit fairy tales and complaining about his demons. Letting Michael fully die so he could accept life and love as they come, today, without expectation.
Only then did reentry into love become possible.
Only after killing off Michael did I finally find a new story writing itself.