God that made me smile. Divorce.
Sweet sweet release from the life of servitude I had signed up for. Sweet sweet escape from the confines of a “committed relationship” with a man who I was not in love with, and was not in love with me. Victorious liberation of being independent and single.
(Insert snarky laugh here.) Not so much.
That was the next step, the process we were facing. Zachary loved Hunter, and at one point in his life, he loved me. I knew he did. All I could hope was he would find it in his heart to let me go, with an ounce of grace, and empathy. I hoped he would be an emotional sounding board for this insurmountable hurt we shared. I hoped he would respect me in the end.
I could have hoped all day long in one hand, and took a giant shit in the other, and I guarantee you, the one I shit in would fill up faster.
I would not describe hate as the opposite of love. Both are passionate emotions closely related, and bordering each other. I would have given anything if he had just hated me.
The opposite of love, is Divorce. Divorce is War.
It’s a process of mentally undoing any emotional ties to another person that may have ever been fractionally happy, or fulfilling. It’s openly destroying any ounce of compassion, and annihilating your egocentric responsibility for the fucked up behaviors of the person who is now denying you as a person, a partner, a lover, and a friend. Divorce is asserting all responsibility for the “failure” of the union on any and all other entities outside of you.
Divorce is a death. More death.
Zachary became capable of taking me from zero to irate in less time than it took for the phone to ring once. Nothing we said to each other was kind, considerate, or resembled anything remotely close to a relationship, that at one point in time looked like the future…..looked like our forever. Granted, “forever” at the age of 18 looks vastly different from forever at the age of 25. I was a different person, but I’m not so sure he was.
I didn’t hate him; in fact, I loved him more now that I had been able to while we were living together. I wanted more than anything to shelter him from the storm that had brewed socially around our divorce. When I realized the root cause of the vicious rumors was in fact Zach and his family, I began a rapid regression into myself, and my own bubble. I knew this was ultimately my choice, and held full responsibility for walking away.
Staying would have been easier.
Staying would have proved my love and devotion to the marriage……..unfortunately I wasn’t in love or devoted to this marriage, at all. I hadn’t been for a very long time.
Staying was a lie.
The move I made was calculated and I knew the backlash would leave a gash in my already wounded heart. But once again, I was humbled by my own aptitude to greatly underestimate the range of emotions a human is capable of feeling. It took a long time for me to realize that my feelings towards Zachary are not based in love, or hate. They are guilt.
Guilt disarms the strongest soldier, and creates a punching bag approach to the way you allow people to treat you. I have been driven by guilt my entire life, it’s a family trait that I neither admire in myself or feel is fair. I’d blame my up bringing, but I’d feel bad if I did.
I determined, that because I had opted into divorce, I must deserve the treatment I was getting.
There was no question that it was the time to go, but no one writes a manuscript for behavior following the definitive point in time that you say “Enough.” I figured, like the tide, I would just fade away. I wanted to create a new life that circumvented my son, and the desire to move forward and progress.
The company I ran with Jenny obviously could not continue. Although she had been the largest proponent for my divorce, the fact that I had actually acted on the notion had left me labeled and eliminated any social standing I may have had. By this time, she had drafted a document and made a monetary offer to eradicate me from the company, and from her life. She had successfully ran my name into the ground, and offered her unfounded opinion of my actions to anyone who looked at her, and alluded to any curiosity of my whereabouts. I had become a scarlet letter wearing son of a bitch, and the sooner I wasn’t attached to her name in any way, the better.
I let her go too. More guilt.
I didn’t owe Jenny anything, really. I felt a familial obligation to give her the easiest path in life, and strip off any resistance to a successful business venture. I wanted the company truthfully, I think I could have ran it successfully, and maintained any and all business contacts we had created, as well as building the clientele base. But I was shaken in my own confidences, and she wanted it. So I sold it. I sold my first company, in the local coffee shop, on a Wednesday. I let it go. I let her go. I figured the rumors would stop at that point, I was no longer a threat, and I wasn’t a point of conversation. I was an ex-sister in law, and the mother of two little boys she loved. I WAS WRONG. More dragons, more fire and brimstone.
Regardless, at this point, I was living in an apartment alone….the only things I had were a bed I bought from my brother, couches Zach and I had acquired in St. George when we were first married, the washer and dryer, my clothes, and the car. I left everything else. All of it.
The idea was I would leave his dream home intact. I would leave everything as it lay so Hunter wouldn’t have a large upset of two homes being drastically different. I would create a new world for him, here with me. I would implement details that screamed Carrie Mae, and I would introduce him to his Mamma for the first time, in her environment. I want him to know me, not the self sacrificing depiction of a Mormon bride I had created for Zach’s viewing pleasure.
I left the brand new bedroom set, and a brand new table, the leather sectional and the 100 gallon fish tank full of tropical fish. I left the three trucks, trailer, and camping equipment. I left Hunter’s bunk beds, and all of the pictures we had on the walls. I was being altruistic and considerate. I was being a martyr and a saint.
I was being a dumb ass.
Zach didn’t respect me for the things I left, he could barely see past the empty place next to him in bed, and the warm naked body that wasn’t there when he woke up. I was gone. Period. That’s all that mattered. Of course he didn’t offer up any of the details of our life together to assist in my venture. Heaven forbid we help each other along the way.
After living in a bare walled apartment for quite some time, I decided I needed to recon some photos I had stored away in boxes. I was on a journey of making steps, and the photos represented beacons to me. “Checkpoints” if you will, of success in the process.
I remember knocking on the door of the house we had purchased together. I stood on the front porch peering through the cracked blinds at a life I used to be a part of. A flicker of hurt resonated through me, and I doused it in reality, and knocked again. It was cold, late November, I could smell a wood burning stove and looked around to find the smoke drifting through the air. Zach opened the door. He opened the door and blocked the gap.
“Hey” I said in a frail tone. “Hi.” …..stone cold.
“I just came to get that stuff we talked about…..” “Ya.” He stepped to the side, and I stepped inside.
I have never felt more out of place in my life. Standing there was like crossing enemy borders and asking for a cup of coffee. Gleaming into the steaming black liquid, I knew it was poison. But I asked for it. Shut up and drink it.
I swallowed hard.
“It’s still in the closet” he said to me dryly.
My heart sank……it was in HIS closet, right where I had left it.
The dogs ran up to me and I pet them vigorously, guilty again for leaving them behind.
“Where’s Hunter?” I asked. “Madden’s”
Across the street, of course. I hadn’t seen him in four days and I ached to kiss his cheeks. Zach was protecting him from me…..guilt………probably best for now, I probably deserve it.
I followed him through the narrow, long hallway, I would have rather been heading to my prosecution, and the needle. He stood in the entrance to the huge closet, and pointed to the boxes,
“Right there,” he snarled.
I had to walk past him, and like a child avoiding the cracks, I smashed my body against the opposite door jam and squeezed past him.
“Thanks.” I said pathetically.
He stood over me, watching me move. I faced the opposite wall, and knelt at the boxes, tied with anxiety of what I was going to find.
“Got it, thanks” I said to him dismissively. I wanted to be alone. “Ha, ya right, like I’d leave you alone in my house.”
My stomach twisted. “Ok,” I managed.
I turned back to the task at hand and grazed the wooden frames that were glass down. I picked them up, one by one, tears building, cresting the dam, and rolling down my cheeks. I hated crying in front of him, HATED it. I glanced over my shoulder and caught his eyes. Cold. Hollow. Divorce eyes.
“Can I have this one?” I asked him pressing my finger tips into a picture of Koley on a tractor.
“It’s kind of my favorite” he responded clipped. “Oh, k, how about this one.”
“I was going to give that one to Grandpa, it’s at his house” “ok….this one?”
“I guess Carrie, whatever.”
I clung to it, like it was the last flower of spring. I loved it, and let it hurt me, all at the same time. I stared at the pictures in the tote, and exchanged blows with my heart and mind over which ones I could not live without, and which ones were destroying me as I looked at them. I didn’t want them, but I wanted desperately to want them. And I knew at some point, I would.
“How about this one?”
He glanced up at me and took in the image of me on my knees holding a picture I had taken of Jenny’s daughter. I had called the image Prayer Hands, and loved it. It was the first time she had let me take my niece alone. I drug her through a giant wheat field and together we investigated an irrigation pond that was covered in moss. It was magic hour, the sun played on her blonde curls in perfect harmony with her perfect movements. She glows. She always has. That little girl has had my entire heart, her entire life. Jenny had been pregnant with her, while I was pregnant with Koley. They were best friends. Inseparable. Perfect little people. I love her without limitation, and would die to ensure her safety and happiness. She is mine. She is a gentle reminder of a time I long for and miss desperately. She is a gentle reminder of God’s tender mercy and the fragile string that holds together the last parts of my broken heart. She is the one thing in my life that reminds me of my son, and doesn’t hurt. A living breathing testament to heaven. That little girl can do no wrong in my eyes.
“Do you really think that’s a good idea?” he retorted. I looked at him perplexed.
“She’s not your niece anymore Carrie, and it’s not like Jenny is a huge fan.”
The front lines became unbearable, and I stumbled on my own thoughts.
He was right.
It was the first time I considered the collateral damage of Jenny’s familial loyalties. I was losing my niece.
Feeble, and puny I knelt in his closet where my clothes used to hang. In my life I used to live in. I was no longer my niece’s aunt, I wasn’t in a position to be Zach’s wife, I wasn’t a business owner, or a mother to two, I was a pathetic example of a mother and didn’t have near the benefits to offer Hunter. I wasn’t anything at this point.
His look was stern, and warning. I turned away and felt a cool tear roll down my flaming cheeks.
The front lines of this war became fatal.
“Ok.” I whispered. And I set the picture in his stack that tripled the size of mine. I grabbed my things, and asked if he had a box. Reluctantly he stepped away.
I grabbed her picture and hastily put in the middle of my pile. I tucked her away safely, and hoped he wouldn’t notice. I felt like I had just robbed a bank, I took it, although I felt undeserving of this little girl to be a part of my life now. I took her because I refuse to let her go. I won’t. I never will. All legalities aside, unconditional love, is just that. The wound sustained in that battle are deep and unforgiving. But I won that battle.
It was the final collection of my things. The last time I would be allowed to look into the life we had created together. I took only what he decided I deserved. I let him decide, and as such, gave him the control over the way I would be treated. He decided what was acceptable, and the repugnant behavior that followed was a byproduct of allowing this to transpire. I set the bar VERY low for him. I allowed his actions to control my emotions for the next year of my life. Taking my hits like a well trained victim.
Just don’t cry. I told myself. It will hurt him if you do.
Just don’t cry.
I toted my things out the door, apologizing in my mind for all of my wrong doings. Leaving all of the things I had collected over the last seven years together, so I didn’t cause any damage. What I thought I left was a life for him to perpetuate. What I actually left was my dignity, and self respect. What I left was my heart exposed to someone who needed to hurt me, in order to feel better. And still to this day, I’ll let him swing, if it helps heal his hurt, at all.
Guilt can drive a person through life. It can also extend the threshold of someone’s own abilities to endure punishment. I found solace in the punishment, give someone else the opportunity for a minute, while I gave myself a break.
I wish, at some point someone would have pointed out that the only thing I could control, is the way I feel. I wish someone would have explained that I’m not responsible for the whole world’s feelings, and broken hearts. Like every other lesson, I learned this the hard way.