Not a shocker, I know. My (now) ex-husband and I separated over a year ago. We submitted ourselves to three excruciating days of mediation seven months ago. We (and by "we," I mean the royal "we" -- our lawyers) finalized and stamped the necessary reams of paperwork a few weeks back.
Then, the way it works (at least here in NC), you can send everything to a judge. You don't have to show up in court. Bizarre to think that marriage, which begins with so much fanfare and publicity and adulation, can, after 23 years, end with nothing more than the quiet scratching of a 79-cent Bic pen by a grown man wearing a robe. A week or so later, you get a notice in the mail. The end.
Better, of course, than pointing fingers, pulling hair and gnashing teeth in a courtroom. But still.
Frankly, I'm not sure how to feel. My friends don't know what to say either. "Congratulations" doesn't sound right. Ending a marriage -- particularly one that includes two amazing, beautiful, articulate children -- is hardly the occasion for a party. Even if that party includes sangria.
But my friends and family know that, after enduring and supporting me these past many months, "I'm sorry" isn't appropriate either.
Maybe the one thing I most want to hear is, "I'm still here." True, the need is no longer urgent. The kids and I have adjusted and acclimated and agree that we're much better now than we ever could've imagined a year ago. We have routines. We have friends. We have fun.
As one similarly divorced friend put it, "It's OK. Just different."
Still, our emotions seem to have the flickering consistency of a candle on a windowsill. But how much of that is this and how much of that is that? After all, we're all hormonal in this household. The kids, in their pubescent ways. And me, in my, well, hormonal way. It's just life as we know it.
This week, as I awaited the news, has been unexpectedly difficult. I've not been my best self. Fortunately, there were few opportunities for me to act on the emotions I was trying to wrestle. Had circumstances been presented differently, I could've been that mom -- you know, the one who is told by the ump to leave the baseball game for bad behavior or the one who backends the other mom in the carpool line. Lucky for me, I made it through. I don't know how I could've explained jailtime to my kids.
And although I'd never want to go through it again, I learned a lot this past year. I honestly never realized how many remarkable friends I have -- or how strong and supportive and intuitive they are. I'm somewhat embarrassed that it took a crisis for me to recognize their depth and perceptiveness.
I learned that my kids are more fragile and vulnerable than you'd ever imagine. And they learned that they are more resilient and resourceful and capable than anyone ever knew.
I learned a couple of new words, "malaka" and "skatouli" -- both very handy when you need to express yourself explosively, without offending bystanders (as long as those bystanders are not Greek).
And I learned, not necessarily proudly, that I can drink an entire bottle of wine on my own in a single evening. No problem. (Or no problem that Advil can't help solve.)
In the end, though, we're OK.
There's no recipe tonight. The kids are with their dad, and after the revelations of the day, I'm craving something I learned to make when I was eight years old -- tuna salad. Lots of lemon, lots of pickle and chopped celery, some minced onion, barely any mayo, and absolutely no boiled eggs. Don't forget the salt.
I also put a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Not that I'm celebrating the divorce. I'm celebrating that I'm still here. And doing just fine.
And if you're reading this, then I thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.