Since my…wife? Do I even still call her that? We’re both checked out, but we’re still technically married. I don’t want to dehumanize her in this process (which I acknowledge isn’t always the popular opinion of a partner), so for the sake of example I’ll refer to her as my wife until the divorce is final…and maybe every once in a while afterwards.
Since my wife and I agreed that divorce is the next step for us, my emotions have been on quite a ride. I’m reluctant to call it a roller coaster, because roller coasters, although they possess the implied up and downs, follow a single track every single time with calculated periods of acceleration, tension, and release. This process is absolutely individualized and in no way calculated or predictable.
I think it’s more accurate to refer to it as a zero-gravity pinball machine with bumpers and flippers on all six sides of the playing space, not just laterally like traditional pinball machines. I am the chromed, metal central character and each bumper, slingshot, ramp, and flipper is a different reaction, some voluntary, some involuntary.
It has barely been a couple weeks since we made this decision, and it would be vague of me to say that my emotions vary simply day to day. They actually vary hour to hour, and occasionally minute to minute with drastic results. Where I find myself the most calm is when I’m driving by myself. Whether it is to work, or the grocery store, or to my friend’s house where I’m staying for a night or two (or three, or a week) driving alone has always been therapeutic.
On one hand, the act of doing anything alone is the most elementary reminder that this will be my upcoming future. One the other, driving means I’m going somewhere–moving forward–and this is most definitely good.
From the latter I think about all the new opportunities that will reveal themselves to me. More flexibility to go and do whatever I want: road trips, dinner, movies, watching sports, or even eating vegetables (yes, I’m looking forward to eating more vegetables). The potential for freedom seems boundless at this point.
But then I remember why I’m approaching this new freedom. My marriage didn’t work out so well.
And that makes me feel like a failure.
I wholly acknowledge, like most people, that I do not like to lose. But if you think about it, marriage isn’t a game. It isn’t a competition. It’s an ever-changing thing that evolves and plateaus and wilts and flourishes. So this is not a loss.
On a particular morning on my way to work (where the majority of my co-workers–98% of which know my wife because she used to work there–do not know I’m going through this) I started to crumble because I felt like I was a failure. But then I looked at it this way.
This divorce is not a statement or reflection on my inability to love. It is a stake in the ground of my ability to honestly acknowledge the truth and realize what is important to me.
I am not broken, tainted, or a failure. A marriage is a risk, a leap, a jump into the unknown. But as with many other choices, I have the ability to make a new choice. To turn the corner. To open a new door. I am not running away from my struggles, I am running towards my own success.
I am not a failure.
I am not only better than a divorce, but I am more than a divorce. I am better than a failed attempt at a marriage.
And this is definitely not being counted as a loss because I have and still am learning so much.