Today is my husband’s birthday. I did not get him a present. Nor will I say Happy Birthday, either in person or via phone, text or email. We are no longer together but we are still legally married and today is still the birthday of my husband. The only thing I will give him are divorce papers.
A transplant to Maryland, I love so much about this state. Its laws about divorce are not one of the things: you must be separated for a year before you can file for divorce. This does not take into account the 2 years of build up it took to get to the separation decision. The state doesn’t require you to wait a year to get married, but if you wish to dissolve a marriage, wait you must.
I spent the first few months of the waiting period crying. Crying and drinking milkshakes because I couldn’t stomach any other food. I cried and talked to my friends and lamented my failure. Capital F Failure.
The next few months I got angry, as the lovely niceties fell away and the deep-seated rage my husband had with me for many things became apparent: for being more financially solvent and successful in my career, for being white and therefore privileged, for being sensitive and not liking the television loud, among other things. Basically for being me.
I suffered from the why. Why did we fail, and since we ended up failing, why did I spend so long trying so fucking hard? Why did I let myself be miserable for several years? Why did it take such misery to be honest? Why did he choose me if he didn’t actually like who I was? And the same question to myself, why did I choose him? How did I ignore the red flags from the start of how different we were, how differently we expected a relationship and daily life to be?
Something about completing the year, being forced to be married, and now coming to the close, filing for divorce, going through the process of the winding down of our legal attachment, I am finally able to look again and feel some softness. Remember the love, recognize the sweet moments that made me stay.
More than moments though, I am now able to reflect on what I am grateful for from our relationship:
I am grateful to know what I need from a partner and what I consider being in relationship with someone to be about.
I am grateful to know life as struggle so that I can choose not to live that way; grateful that I can choose life as possibility and hope and joy every day, in the tiniest minutia.
I am grateful to remember that the loving someone does not necessarily equal having them in your life.
I am a sensitive person. I know this is a gift.
I am not a victim to any circumstance. I choose how I relate to life.
Other people may not like me. This doesn’t mean I should be any different than I am.
A relationship should enhance my life. If it feels like a burden or a weight or an albatross, it probably should not be part of my life.
I dislike secrecy. I like to live in integrity and with openness.
I am grateful to have failed at my marriage so early in. What was broken between was never going to be repaired. Repeat: What was broken between was never going to be repaired. Love doesn’t fix everything. Love is sometimes saying goodbye. I am so grateful to have ended our relationship at 4 years rather than 7 or 14 or 21.
So on my husband’s birthday, I will not say Happy Birthday. But I will say Thank You. Thank you for being you and for what our relationship allowed me to learn about myself. The period of sorrow and pain I experienced, both in the relationship and in the dissolution, was so worth the authentic and joyful life I lead now. It was only in putting down the weight I carried that I experienced my true lightness of being.