As of writing I've been divorced/separated for 5 years. In fact, I realize now that tomorrow is my 15th wedding anniversary.
And it was on my 10 year wedding anniversary that it was really over.
We were months into living out of a van with our two kids in New Zealand, a trip we decided would save or break our marriage. I said it to myself, 'it's over, I did it, I'm done.' -because for some reason making it to 10 years was important to me, even as our marriage began taking on an increasingly rapid pace of unraveling.
I also said it aloud, to him; as I had many, many times before. But for some reason, submerged in the natural hot spring waters famous in the region, he finally heard it that day.
In the 5 years of ups and downs since then, there have been many times when my ex husband and I have been an absolute bastion of 'happily divorced'. We have been the gold standard. We made new couple friends as a divorced couple, we spent holidays like Mother's Day and Christmas together with my new partner. We travelled together to places meaningful to our family. When the time came, we moved continents together, from Sydney to Salt Lake City, in our commitment to raise our family together. We effortlessly got divorced without lawyers and have never had issues with custody of our children. We even lived together in the same house again with my current partner for a month prior to leaving Australia.
We were divorce mentors to our friends. I came up with may go-to one liners like 'life begins when you get divorced!' that I would exclaim with wide eyes, and, I can only imagine and admit, a shrill tone conveying my truth and passion for the issue. I was writing a book about how we were best friends -and how I loved having my cake and eating it too.
Oh how I slipped the joy of my new double life on, like the most luxuriously rich mink to parade around in!
I was earnest in my delusion. The social stigma of divorce, the suicide of the self as one knows it as well as the sacrifice of friendships and relationships, are brutal. Was I not wise to find some silver-lining for myself? Divorce can be a beautiful catalyst for awakening and discovery of what you most value, and of what you are. But the shame and the loss make that difficult. And I wanted to make my life's mission helping folks shortcut the harrowing process, turning the event on its head sooner.
But I needed my best friend to be there and play the role I needed him to play. I needed to say that we were happy and that we were friends and that this was all ideal! I needed to say it, I realize only now, almost more than I needed to live it.
There is a smug superiority I miss, now that I can't say it anymore.
We aren't friends.
And while initially we had a slow pulling apart, and our interactions mimicked the best elements of our once shared union. Time slowly turned hearts cold. And intimacy was too great to bear. Only I failed to notice.
And needing that badge of honor that I was not incapable of being a friend to an ex, I bulldozed forward. Alone. Blind. Desperate for that badge and the message about me it conveyed.
Well, happy anniversary to me. We used to celebrate each year with a 'Happy Anniversary, asshole; text. With the slow breakdown of intimacy and trust, somehow that just won't feel right tomorrow.
But I've learned, that's ok too.
Because my truth has begged me to realize that badge is not the source of my honor or worth. And that it says very little about me at all. And in a year when I had mantras I loved and lived by, I never say the context for this one, which calls so loudly to me to be applied in this instance: