KSS would like to thank Abra Mim’s for sharing her journey through divorce. This is Abra’s last column discussing her divorce, but keep an eye out for more of her work in the fall.
I am not a good waiter. I don’t mean I’m bad at waiting tables – although I’m certain I would be bad at that- I mean the act of waiting. Having to wait invokes something within me that I imagine is akin to what the Incredible Hulk feels just before he morphs from boring guy to crazy, rage-filled monster. I know I am not alone in this. Disdain for waiting, I believe, is one of those core traits among humans. We crave companionship, we need food and shelter, and we hate waiting. If you don’t believe me, take a look around the next time you are in line at the post office. Even the person at the front is unhappy because the act of having been made to wait renders us completely incapable of feeling anything other than pure annoyance.
It’s not waiting itself that is actually the problem. The problem is the absence of control. I am a recovering control freak so I’ve become pretty adept at discerning whether a lack of control is to be blamed for any unpleasant emotions I may be experiencing. Those who personally know me may laugh at my use of “recovering,” but trust me when I say I used to be one uptight, anxiety-ridden mess of a person. I may still harbor the urge to throttle the person in front of me at the grocery store who insists on using expired coupons, an act that always results in the cashier turning on the you’re-going-be-at-this-store-longer-than-you-thought light, but for the most part, I have learned to let things go.
I credit motherhood with my new and improved persona. In my childless days, I assumed motherhood would bring an onslaught of events I would never be able to control, along with countless things to worry over. I was fully prepared to receive help in the form of anti-anxiety meds if needed. I ended up being correct about my assumptions, but instead of becoming more uptight, I learned to relax. With mothering, the degree of not being in control is so staggering I ultimately admitted defeat and pretty much gave up trying to control anything at all. I call this progress, but having to wait reminds me I still have work to do.
It just so happens there is a lot of waiting in divorce. There is waiting for the crying to stop. There is waiting to stop feeling angry. There is waiting to feel brave enough to date again. There is waiting for your kid to get back to normal. And, among the worst, there is waiting for the actual divorce to be over.
Last week my ex and I went to court to legally end our relationship. We started the day by (you guessed it) waiting a few hours for the judge to call us in. We stood before him to definitively admit we are failures at marital bliss, but we first had to promise to be truthful. I found this to be a pretty ironic way to begin a divorce, since the thing that brought us into the courtroom was a promise to never be there in the first place, but I guess that’s just a minor detail. Going before the judge was not the worst part; the worst part was accepting my marriage was over in the first place. Having gotten through that phase pretty early on in the process, I had spent the past several months waiting (impatiently, of course) for our court date so I could wash my hands of the experience once and for all. But now that I have gone through it, I don’t feel any better. I think my dissatisfaction is due in large part to the fact that I am still waiting.
Where I live, going before the judge isn’t actually the end. There’s not anything more for either of us to do, but there is a buffer in place from the time you go to court to the time the state legally recognizes your downfall. I’ve been told the rule is in place in case someone has a change of heart. I don’t know if it’s an old law that never seemed worthy of removal, or if there are scores of people running back into the courthouse saying, “Never mind! I’m gonna go ahead and stay married!” Regardless, it means I’m stuck waiting.
I’m not sure why I feel such urgency in this matter. It’s not as if the legal end of my marriage will radically change anything. I will simply wake up one day being able to say, “I’m divorced,” instead of, “I’m in the middle of a divorce.” I’m sure I’ll spend my first official day as a divorcee telling myself I really should clean my house, or pretending I’m going to spend less time on the internet like I do every other day of my life. I’m not going to suddenly become a better mother or writer. I won’t suddenly have throngs of single men lining up outside my door. Even so, the waiting is making me crazy.
It may very well be symbolic, but I need a final ending to what has been a maddening and gut-wrenching experience. I want to know, without hesitation, that I made it to the other side; that I got through my divorce and it didn’t completely destroy me. And I’ll admit it: I want to feel I’m in control of something again. I say that without the anxiety and worry that used to fuel my need to control things. I say it knowing that having some control of my destiny is empowering and brings some dignity back to my life.
I am trying my best to stop feeling frustrated. Instead, I am attempting to take comfort in the fact my wait is nearly over. I know years from now I will be able to look at this period in my life the same way I look at a-hole drivers on the highway: through my rearview mirror and with my middle finger raised high. Maybe I’ll feel a sense of righteous indignation, or maybe I’ll just let it go, remembering this divorce was just a moment. It’s a big moment, and obviously a life-changing one, but this ending is not the ending.
My life may actually be better post-divorce. I can’t claim it is so yet, but every now and then I see glimpses of my future self and, well, she’s kind of awesome. And I realize it is the exact opposite of awesome to quote Chumbawamba, but it happens to be true: “I get knocked down, but I get up again.” This is not the first time I’ve had my life redefined for me; it’s unlikely the last. Somehow, though, I always manage to get through the tears, the frustration, and even the waiting. I don’t exactly know what the upcoming year will bring, or what my new life will really look like, but I’m willing to bet it will all be worth the wait.
Read Abra’s last column.