Broken: How To Say Goodbye To A Long Marriage
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By Caryn DeVincenti, Guest Author - March 12, 2015

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My lawyer notified me that next week I will sign divorce papers. My husband has been gone for almost two years, the separation was my idea, and I don’t regret my decision, but… How does one say goodbye?

I remember when we were engaged and we heard couples fighting, throwing hurtful words at each other.

“We’ll never do that,” I told my fiancé.

“No way,” he said.

“I can’t imagine being like that,” I said. And I meant it. He was my soulmate, my Prince Charming, my happily ever after.

But fairytales aren’t real. Today I sit in my writing chair, unable to focus. I tried all the mnemonic devices that usually help me work. Music made things worse. Walking outside aggravated my allergies. Even carbs didn’t take away the ache. Call someone.

My best friend is on a plane, unreachable. My other friends are close with my ex. I texted a man I’ve dated, but feel guilty for laying my weight on his shoulders. He’s working. Everybody’s working. Why can’t I work?

The house is up for sale. Right now, as I type, gardeners are making the lawn look spiffy, soon the pool people will arrive. I keep the house orderly for prospective buyers that pass through. The house looks great, the best it’s been in a while. Why didn’t I keep the house this nice for my family? Why do we wait until we’re leaving to appreciate what we have?

I want to make a mess.

Last night, while walking the dog, I talked to a friend about changing my Facebook status. “What do I do?” I asked. “Divorced sounds too depressing. It sounds like I failed something. ‘Single’ sounds like I’m on the prowl, and leaving it blank is too vague. Like I never had a history.”

He laughed, and I laughed back, despite the fact that I really wasn’t joking.

“’It’s complicated,’ is more like it,” I said.

I’ve dated a few people this year, and ‘complicated’ is an understatement. Facebook should let you customize your status. Life doesn’t always fit a particular mold.

Today, while glancing at old pictures for “Throw Back Thursday,” I came across a photo of my soon-to-be-ex and me. In the photo, his hand covered my pregnant belly. I considered cropping the photo, cutting him out of the picture, but decided against it. He is my past, my present, and my future. Because of our kids, we communicate almost daily. I don’t hate him, don’t want to be his enemy. We spent two decades together and we’re finally at a good and supportive state. His father is having open-heart surgery in two weeks. His father is a good man. He’s still my family. They’re all my family.

Last week I watched a TV show about a woman writer who has been going through divorce. The parallels are scary; I can relate to this character in so many ways. On the season finale, she invited her ex to sign the divorce papers together. To paraphrase: “We came into this marriage together, so maybe we should go out of it together?”

What a great idea, I thought. I’ll ask my husband to sign the papers together. It’s a testament to what we had, what we built, what we no longer want, but are forever grateful for. The once upon a time.

While summoning the courage to tell him my idea, a text comes in. It’s him, and he wants me to watch our children next week because he’s flying up north to be with his father. "OF COURSE," I text back. I wish him luck and send my love and well wishes.

During our marriage, we never yelled at each other. We didn’t become one of those hateful, angry couples. We were happy, at least, for a while.

I sit on my balcony and work down my last smoke. How does one say goodbye? I snub the cigarette into my ashtray. Maybe the answer will come next week.

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photo credit: 136/365 Lovely via photopin (license)

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