Heartbreak

Why I Hate This Divorce Quote

Photo: Studio.51 / Shutterstock
woman taking off wedding ring

I don’t miss my ex-husband, Joseph.

But I miss being married. I miss having a family. I miss my kids.

My God I miss my kids.

My married friends (so weird to not be in that club after a membership that lasted my entire adulthood) repeatedly ask the same questions about post-divorce life. I’ve entered an unknown territory; a fishbowl that everyone wants to see but not join.

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Sometimes I regale them with dating stories. Sometimes I give them the raw truth of life, like how much it sucks not being able to buy all the shoes I want and oh yeah, that whole missing-my-kids trauma.

Then I hear a variation of the same quote. It’s meant to console and make me feel better. It’s always said with the best of intentions. Instead, it comes across as condescending, like a verbal “there, there” pat on the back.

I hate being told that I’ll get used to it.

I don’t want to get used to it. I don’t ever, ever want to get used to not having my kids every day. It’s unnatural. To think that eventually, I’ll be okay with something so abnormal makes it all the worse.

I don’t want to get used to a life that has traumatized my children’s lives. What right do I have to feel good when I’m responsible for the first major trauma of their little lives? How can anyone “get used to” the reason your children’s hearts shredded is because you felt like your needs trumped theirs?

No one wants to get divorced. Some people don’t want to get married but no one aspires to divorce. Or least, I eventually did when my marriage became unbearable. I struggle to type the words to describe being in an alternate universe where I chose the one thing that no one wants.

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I chose this crappy path because, in my Sophie’s Choice of life, this was better than my marriage.

Weekdays without my kids are mildly more tolerable. They’re in school all day and my free evenings are spent with friends or dating. Weekends are brutal. It’s like every other weekend I jump into a vortex of loneliness. Like in my former life, my friends keep their weekends dedicated to family.

Today, I decided to stop looking like garbage when I run errands. I did my hair and makeup. I wore a short dress. I looked bomb. Well, bomb for someone in her forties with cellulite and spider veins. It was an attempt to make a Saturday without family time feel less shitty.

As I ran my various errands, I began to feel silly. Like I was playing dress-up in a foreign world and everyone around would know that I’m an imposter. I even got scared that I would run into Joseph and the kids. They would think that when they’re not around, I’m off living my best life full of happiness.

I got home and changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt.

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When I was married, I often called myself “married but single” because Joseph was never around due to work.

Before the social distancing Covid mandate, I didn’t know what it was like to plan dinner for a family. I didn’t know what it was like to depend on someone if I had to stay late at work or I got a flat tire. There were no happy hours or after-work dinners with friends who had husbands that watched their kids.

Now that I’m divorced, I’m in a club that I’m not comfortable in.

In my head, I sometimes still feel married. I don’t fit in this world where I’m supposed to “get used to” having an empty house all to myself. It’s like I’m in a permanent Airbnb because this isn’t supposed to be mine.

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Will I get used to my anger at Joseph? Whenever my brain begins to think that I made the wrong choice, I flash back to moments etched in my brain. When I decided I wanted a divorce, it was because I no longer wanted to live in a house where another adult could yell at me.

That’s the bar I’m working with. I just don’t want to be yelled at in my own home, a place that’s supposed to feel safe. And yet, I was made to feel high-maintenance for having that request.

I could probably have tolerated a few more years without intimacy. But not feeling safe in my house was a deal-breaker. There’s only so often that you can hide in the laundry room (fuck, I miss having a laundry room) to cry because you don’t feel safe for your husband to see you that way.

To be clear, I wasn’t the perfect wife by a long shot. I feel like my behaviors were reactionary and a coping mechanism. I look back at the times that I made efforts but got flack for never trying or having the best intentions. Eventually, I had nothing left to give. It wasn’t just that I didn’t like the husband that I married; I didn’t like the wife that I became.

I don’t know if I’ll ever “get used to” feeling like it was okay for me to leave a marriage that at times left me suicidal.

“Getting used to” feels synonymous with selfishness, like I’m brushing aside the hurt and turmoil my choice caused. “Getting used to” feels like I don’t care.

If I “get used to” this change, then I won’t continue to feel guilt. My brain needs this guilt to feel like I’m a little less of a horrible person for throwing a bomb on my family. “Getting used to” this life implies that I don’t care about anyone else except my frivolous happiness.

The sentiment from well-meaning friends is appreciated. What else can they say? They’re not a part of this alternate dimension where their personal job title and family are the opposite of what they wanted. They can’t fathom the loss of identity. They continue to tell me that I’ll “get used to” things and I continue to placate their consolation attempts with a fake-optimistic reply, “yeah, I’ll get used to it.”

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Jennifer M. Wilson writes because in real life her humor is allegedly too sarcastic and inappropriate. Read more of her work on Medium.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.