You never know where divorce will lead you. Perhaps, without experiencing it, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish the goals you set forth to achieve the day you were born.
When the first rock hit her head the shock in her eyes blew through my living room like a typhoon, leaving me stunned, nauseous and forever changed.
I spent the next 24 hours, minus a fitful night’s rest disturbed not by dreams but fractured images that wouldn’t let me wake nor sleep, sobbing. I sobbed all the way to pick up The Dudes and hid behind big, black sunglasses as they ran to hug me. I wanted to lose myself in their beautiful souls so I wouldn’t have to think. My voice was shaky. The Tall Dude held me tight. I reached into a bag of tricks and pulled out a smile. They wanted to go swimming. I wanted to go home and cry into my pillow.
(Truth be told, I wanted to cry into the chest of someone who understood me. Who understood why I couldn’t shake it off and loved me for it. Who didn’t accuse me of wanting to save doves, but of having the tender heart of a Piscean empath and thought, Gosh, I love this girl.)
Let’s do something fun, Mama! Let’s go swimming! The Little Dude pleaded, eyes so big and full of blue and love and hope that I wanted to swim in them, not a pool.
Without weighing the pros and cons I just said, Sure. I didn’t have the capacity for anything more.
The DVD of The Stoning of Soraya M. sat on the table in the living room for six weeks. Barbie with Brains suggested I see it as a jumping off point for writing Mina’s biography. (To date, I believe I have only referred to her as M. And if you are just landing here, she is from Afghanistan with a story that must be told. I am honored to be the one who will write her biography.) Mina and I have been meeting for weeks in her home and in her son’s gym in San Francisco. Sometimes she sits across from me in a chair. Sometimes on the floor. Sometimes we laugh. It seems one or both of us cries every time we leave behind the present and go back to the vibrant streets of Kabul in the 60s or outside the prison walls in the 70s or in a foreign-to-her land in the 80s when she lives only for her children, or to the remote village outside Kabul where she takes back her free will and fills the void in her heart by giving new life to the walking dead. It’s been emotional and exhilarating for us both; a shared sense of excitement mingles with regret and hope and loss.
Sunday, after writing the outline for Mina’s story, I felt it was time to watch the film. I knew nothing about it, but figured I was in for a brutal tale.
I’m sorry to ask you to do this, but you must see this film. Please. You can call me after to be consoled if no one is there to do it. I promise I will be there for you.
Up until 3PM on Sunday I had been having a productive and super playful weekend. The Universe was at zero, and the Online Dating World scored with a trifecta of architects. How does that happen? All architects. Each one nicer than the next. Smart, sweet, lively and respectful. Not what I expected from the Online Dating World, where apparently for every sweet guy there’s nine married ones looking to shed the wedding band, bang the girl and laugh about it with the boys later. I shared my great fortune with a friend and she said, Ya know, the Universe CAN use the internet. As if it wasn’t all algorithms that attracted these three men to me, and me to them.
Yet, despite lovely outings, I wasn’t feeling that shimmer of a What if? but kind of blasé, just happy to have had a few hours of fun. Maybe it was because of my profile. I was clear – this is all about fun. Play. Nothing serious. I didn’t drop lines like, I’m not looking for my soul mate or I am looking for my soul mate or Marriage, hells to the NO! Keeping it simple, I said, I’m content, happy, fulfilled. Now I’m ready to have some fun.
Thoughts become things. I was okay with it. Taking it slow these days…
I popped in the DVD and settled into the corner of the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket for when my tenth hot flash of the day would subside and a chill would set in. As the previews rolled I reflected on the dates and how I was feeling inside. I noticed a few days prior that I have this fear around having a boyfriend. I had been trying to get into it, understand where it comes from. Was it a fear of commitment? Fear of being hurt again or making the same mistake twice? Snapshots of moments with Mr. Perfect Timing and Mr. Delicious popped into view. Then pushed aside by a few from my marriage. And then snapshots of me alone and feeling relieved. I’m relieved when I’m alone. I crave companionship, but when I conjure it up and see it morph into a relationship I get all antsy. So, how about…I took a stab at what it might be.
How about I fear not meeting the longterm expectations of another and of being trapped in a pedestrian relationship. Pedestrian. That was the word that came through.
Oh, goodness. I am still plagued by The Shiny disease? Better to be aware, I thought. I’ll be able to wrestle that desire to the ground and choke it unconscious. I am NOT falling for that bulls…tuff again.
And then I pressed PLAY.
When the credits rolled I was shell-shocked. I texted BwB to lean on her as tears flooded down my face.
She responds: It is horrid!!! That movie did me in too. Still breaks my heart. Thank God we are American!
I replied: You know what hit me as I forced myself to watch through parted fingers? This happens here. Beatings when a wife challenges her husband over evidence of infidelity, or because she wore makeup or talked to a man. Women are attacked in so many ways. Everywhere.
Then I did a little research and found out that honor killings happen here, too. And while we may want to believe that they’re rare the world over, I don’t buy it. Just as slavery has NOT been abolished (check the stats on human trafficking – that’s what we call slavery now), honor killings or the murder of an inconvenient wife (a term Soraya M. uses in the film) or the kidnapping and rape of a woman desired (in effect, killing her) is a regular occurrence.
Without giving away the details of the film, proving her innocence and then his guilt is required to affect the outcome. An impossible task. While Soraya’s experience is incomparable to my own experience with infidelity and divorce (hence BwB saying, I’m glad I’m American – me, too), there was a parallel: the concept of a no-fault divorce. A law signed into being by President Ronald Reagan. It’s believed that his goal was to protect a spouse from being falsely accused of insanity or adultery or whatever would end the marriage so the other spouse could get a divorce for whatever their reason. The no-fault divorce – a sure fire way to ditch that inconvenient spouse.
Let the divorce parties begin.
Had a no-fault divorce rule been in effect in Iran at the time Soraya M. lived, and the villagers had a dash of respect for human life, perhaps she wouldn’t have died.
Had there not been a no-fault divorce law in California when I discovered the multi-year affair my former spouse was conducting with a married woman, her husband and I could have filed a criminal complaint, sued for damages, or simply experience some degree of justice. Instead of where I am now – having to go to court to defend why I am not self-sufficient after being divorced for eight months.
A while back, when Mr. Perfect Timing was reading the early posts of HGM, he said, You need a broader platform. You write about much more than simply being a woman scorned, a bitter spouse. Not that you are one, he said, catching himself. I smiled.
No, really. You’re not bitter. But most people who don’t take the time to read beyond the first year will judge you as bitter. And you will be discounted if they think you’re bitter.
I’ve heard this from a handful of men. Words to the effect of Make sure you don’t come across as a bitter ex!
Apparently, adultery is not the crime. Being bitter is what’s punishable.
In other words, don’t be “…angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment”, the definition of bitter. Don’t be bitter because your life was a lie, unbeknownst to you. That you were mocked through the adulterous actions of your spouse.
Oh, really? K. I’ll just mosey on along here, shoving my feelings aside because it’s wrong to have them. I should just SHUT UP and accept the fact that the contract of marriage I relied upon is worthless if my spouse wants to have an affair and I don’t want to just take it. Accept it. I mean, why not just deal? “Everybody was happy!”…as my former spouse said to me.
For the record, I’m not bitter. But I get pissed when someone suggests I don’t have the right to be. Being bitter just hands over more days of my life to someone who doesn’t deserve to have them. BUt if I want to be bitter then back up because I have every right to be.
I understand that it’s a slippery slope to have the government involved in cases of moral failings. (Pot calling the kettle black?) Yet in corporate contracts law it’s done all the time. You cheat, you get caught, you suffer the consequences. In the case of adultery, the only consequence is often spousal support. And that just isn’t acceptable to the one paying it, I guess.
Well, I’m not going to spend my days trying to unravel that crap.
While The Dudes belly flopped off the diving board, D and I sat on chairs. He stopped by when he saw me. The last time we ran into each other I had just found out that my former spouse was taking me to court.
He asked how I was doing.
And then held my hand as I failed at holding back the tears.
I knew I had to SPEAK UP.
D, I’m not sure what’s going on, but things are changing so fast. The things I thought I knew, the feelings I was used to experiencing, my picture of this summer – they’ve all 180’d on me.
And then I coughed it all up on his spinning class shorts.
In five minutes I found my way to the beginning of this unexpected highway. It moves much faster than my path. I’m trying to merge and getting rattled. I have NO idea how to fit in or how it’s going to take me where I’ve always needed to go. D’s mouth hung open.
After I finished my admittedly stream-of-conscious gut dump, D said, I know this is totally insensitive, but I’ve got to get to class.
We howled with laughter. And hugged. And that’s when I knew that everything was going to be okay. Mr. Perfect Timing was right – I need a broader platform. So Mom sent me a nun. Now don’t go getting crazy on me…I’m not qualified to be one. And I still believe that in my future is a man. But he’s going to be the one who cries with me, and says, We’ve got a lot of work to do, sweetheart. And not one moment of it is going to be easy or cushy or pedestrian in any way. And I love that about our life.