When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they “don’t understand” one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to.
Helen Rowland (1875–1950), journalist
One of the saddest days of my life was when the legal papers arrived and typed across the page were the words dissolution of marriage. Even though I initiated the proceedings, it was no less painful. Failure permeated my mind as I buried my face in the pillow and cried. I won’t go into all the details, but to say that I was left with nothing, literally less than nothing because of bills and government debt, only because I was male and declared “head of household.”
I had to live at my parents’ home in my old bedroom for a year. I dropped out and collected unemployment for the first time in my life. I played ping pong daily and for hours at a time during the summer of ’95 with a childhood friend, who lived around the corner. By the end of summer, I decided I wanted to be a teacher and not deal with the corporate world ever again, so I went back to school. I was going to get a second B.A in English to go with my journalism degree. However, the corporate world beckoned again and I left school three or six units short of a second degree and my dreams of getting a Master’s degree or even working toward a PhD evaporated.
It’s been 11 years since the first marriage has been over. The second marriage is almost seven years old with plenty of poignant and humorous stories to revisit. But, there are the early chapters from the first family album that now seem incomplete or missing. Often I think about various stories that I want to recall and laugh about, but they are only funny to the us that is no longer.
The early us who naively hurdled the various obstacles and challenges and shared the joys and sorrows involved with starting out together and building a life are not as meaningful to others. No one really cares that we-worked four jobs between us, chased teenage-burglars bursting out of a neighbor’s home, buying and selling mobile homes to afford the first house, the pregnancy, the delivery, vacations, holidays, and all of Daughter’s growing up stories. Now it’s as if I go through the family albums and only half of each picture remains, and unfortunately it gets fuzzier with time. Shared memories are another sad casualty of divorce.
Note: I have been thinking about this post for a while, but I was inspired by a much more complete and well-written essay titled “Aftershock” at Hoarded Ordinaries.