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How to Ride the Divorce Tornado

On "my nights," after I finally get the kids to bed, I usually end up out on my back porch. It’s not a big place, just a small raft of worn-out wood that no one ever bothered to paint. When I get out there on the porch, I dig down deep, dude.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my failed marriage in new and twisted ways. Everyone will tell you that you can’t blame yourself when you find yourself in the middle of a separation or a divorce — or any kind of breakup, actually. But let’s face it, people don’t know what to say to you when your life is all tangled up, so they just say things they think might make you feel better. I appreciate that, I do. But only to a point. I mean, you end up hearing white noise after the first couple-dozen times. Plus, to be honest, I think the truth is that you do have to blame yourself a little bit when it comes to these kinds of things. It’s like, hey, it took two people to start this little fire, you know? And then it took the same two people to let it burn out, too.

Maybe I’m wrong. But I doubt it.

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That goes especially for me, I suppose. Our marriage wasn’t torpedoed by straight-up cheating or knocking somebody across the kitchen in a drunken rage or anything like that. Those things are horrible, of course, but in a strange way they might make the whole decision-making process a little easier. If you screw somebody else or use a couple karate chops on the person you’ve married, then you both know that there are a lot of glowing neon reasons to call it a day. But when you just slow-burn your way half-blind, in complete denial, towards some far-off murky part of outer space when the entire galaxy is just held together with Scotch tape, it seems worse to me. It seems harder to deal with, although I’m sure that’s it’s probably not. Maybe I just tell myself that to make myself feel better, huh?


The damage is real, that’s for sure, no matter how the hell you managed to create it. All of the hurt and the pain and all of those old clichéd feelings that come with realizing you and her (or you and him) just don’t work somehow, and that you’re through/it’s over/good-bye forever, it all unleashes this sort of Alabama twister on your self-conscious ass.

You start to wonder about you. You start to wonder why you weren’t good enough — not just in the role you played and the way you dealt with things, but also, and maybe more importantly, why you weren’t good enough for someone else, for the one you chose and who chose you.

The way I see it, you need to get tossed around in the arms of something thunderous before you can ever finally wake up

It’s pretty goddamn exhausting and while I wish I didn’t feel this way, I think I’m beginning to understand that I need to. I wish I could just look forward to moving on, to a "better tomorrow" or some crap, but things aren’t that way with me. The questions won’t quit. I won’t let them, I guess. Or I can’t let them. Hell, I don’t even know if there’s a difference anymore.

Still, I remain. And I keep wandering out on my back porch with my juice glass of Chianti, moving out into the gloaming when the neighborhood is winding down, when the only racket coming out of my baby monitor up on the microwave is the slur of the air conditioner's hum. That’s when I can tell from down below that my kids are out cold. That old door slams shut then and I sit down on my block of wood and it’s dark.

The buzz of other people’s air conditioners cuts through the summer night.

And I unleash all of it at once: sadness/fury/confusion/and guilt. I think about how I messed up/I blame me for being me for so goddamn long — for too goddamn long. In the light darkness on my porch, I beat myself up: quick jabs/power hooks/sucker punches thrown below my own belt. I tell myself I’m not worth it, that love ain’t worth the hassle and that no girl is ever going to wanna kiss me again. And I believe it all too, at least until the second glass of wine comes around. Look, when you move through all of this stuff, man, you almost have to be brutal to yourself here and there if you want to rake in the perspective you’re going to need to move on. You can’t blame other people or it’ll eat you alive and ruin your chances.

The way I see it, you need to get tossed around in the arms of something thunderous before you can ever finally wake up in the middle of the damn high school football field six or seven blocks away from who you used to be. You have to get swept up in something fierce and overwhelming before you can get to that place where it’s OK to rub the dust and grit out of your eyes.

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But eventually, you’ll get there. And then and only then will you be alright to finally say what you will finally say someday down the line.

Holy shitballs!”

You’ll start to recognize the bleachers.

I’m alive!”

You’ll start to understand the throbbing gash in your chest.

I survived.”

You’ll taste your own bloody lip and it’ll tastes like honeycomb, you stupid, beautiful son of a bitch.

“I fucking survived.”

Then, just before you pass out again from sheer exhaustion, you’ll hear the faint distant sound of good clean ambulances coming your way.

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