I just want complete strangers to tell me I'll be OK. Who doesn't want that?
The first thing you might wonder about me—a guy going through a divorce who just so happens to write about it all on the Internet for public consumption—is: Is this guy a narcissist or what?
I can answer that for you. Of course I am!
I mean, why should I lie at this point? The fact is, despite all of the pain and anguish, aside from the storms of confusion and the mountains of anger or sadness I've dealt with since my marriage began to officially unravel a little over a year ago, there's still a part of me that loves to read a good story.
Especially if I'm the author.
Over the past year, trying to come to terms with the fact that my marriage was shattered into a trillion tiny flecks of once-promising glass, I also stumbled into the best writing groove I've ever been in. Lots of you might wince in discomfort at the mere idea of sharing—or even oversharing—and I get that. But not me. I don't mind it at all. I get off on it. Life in real time interests the hell out of me. And when my life pounds down all over me like hot summer rain, as a writer I need to recognize when the story is actually coming to me instead of having to sniff it out. That's what I realized about a year ago as I sat around my mom's house. As a 42-year-old father of three, I'd moved back in with her (and my stepdad) in a desperate effort to survive something I honestly thought would be way easier.
Fools and dipsh*ts often make the best writers because they're the ones who never realize what fools and dipsh*ts they actually are until it's too late. And once it's too late, there isn't much you can do; you just have to stand there and look down at the mess at your feet, the mess you caused (or helped cause) and figure out how to deal with it.
You can't just waltz away from the mess, so that pretty much leaves you with one option: you have to deal. And how you handle a thing, especially a difficult thing like ending a marriage with little kids when you're not even sure you aren't still in love with the other person yet, well, that says a lot about who you are as far as your heart and soul goes. But it isn't easy. You won't be that great at it. I wasn't. No one is. Divorce sucks. Heartbreak sucks. Realizing someone you thought was gonna love you forever isn't gonna love you forever? Well, it sucks. Sucks. SUCKS.
I didn't know where to turn. It took me a while. I started exercising hard, losing weight. Maybe I can be thin, I thought. That might make me happy again. That's how much you get banged up with heartbreak. You start thinking dumb sh*t like that. Then there I was, living at my mom's and trying to bounce back, watching Naked And Afraid one night back in the early spring, drinking her box Merlot when it came to me, believe it or not. I knew right then and there:
I need to just write my life down.
All of it. As much as I could get away with. The real stuff, the rawness, the open sores. No finger-pointing crap. No baby sh*t. I knew right away, within seconds of the notion, exactly what was going to happen. I was going to write about my looming divorce as it was dropping. And people were going to read it and some of them were going to hate it because they don't like to feel uncomfortable. But they were still going to read it anyway because they can't help themselves; they adore the feeling of being upset. And other people were simply going to find my stuff and immediately get it. Those people are the ones who have been through some heartbreak in their time.
And they're the ones who would reach out to me and tell me everything would be OK which, quite frankly, was what I've been after all along. I just wanted strangers to tell me I'd be OK. Who the hell doesn't want that? Right?
I'll sit there and read something I wrote maybe once in the few seconds after I've just written it, but then that's pretty much it. I don't spend tons of time with the pieces I write; to do so would be unfair to me and to the reader. I think my best chance at nailing who I am and what my thoughts are at any particular juncture is pretty much the same as taking me and my ex-wife (and our once-unified lives) and tearing them back apart again so they're ripped off each other like scab and skin. But once you do that, you can't just keep sticking the scab back on the oozing wound, you know? You need to stand there and gawk at what you just did and try and soak up how it makes you feel in the moment.
You can't keep touching things up. You can't be editing your blues, man.
At least I can't.
Plus, I'm a narcissist, remember? So I get off on the sting.
Each time I write something about where my divorce head is, it's like I'm actually feasting upon my own broken bones. And they're strangely delicious.
What a world, eh?
If you ever find yourself hurting so bad from love or heartbreak or death or getting the shaft, you ought to just write down what you're feeling right that very second. Just write it all down. Let it spill out of you. It's OK if you make yourself pissed off or sad or angry; that's a good sign. When you take the time to write stuff down in the very moment you're feeling it, you're doing the world a pretty bad*ss favor. You're releasing steam from inside your body, thus defusing your own timebomb heart.
And that makes you a stronger person, even if no one ever reads a damn thing you wrote. And if someone does happen to stumble upon it and can relate to what you're laying down, guess what? That's going to make them stronger, too. It just will. And there's nothing wrong with any of that.
I'll say goodbye to a life I once had soon. On some unstoppable mid-January day, I'll be heading down to the courthouse one last time to sign that one last piece of paper. And when I walk back to my Honda parked on the big hill outside, another love story will have ended in divorce.
I'll be so sad. I just will. But I played my part in the whole opera of our destruction and I know it. But that doesn't mean I can't be sad. I'll cry. Some people don't; some whoop for joy and then go meet their friends down at TGIF for daiquiris and potato skins and goodbye to all that.
But I know me. I'll cry my fat face off. But I'll be driving while I do it. Driving home, thinking about how much I need to write it all down. For me and for whoever else wants a little taste. For anyone out there who might want a little pinky taste of a sad, strong stranger's blood.
The End. (not)