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On Taking the Easy Way Out

Like the bananas I buy every week with the best of intentions, our marriage started going bad from the moment we said "I do."

That was ten years ago. And just like I do with the bananas every week, I pretended like I didn’t notice the rotting, assuring myself that I’d use the bananas before it was too late, that buying them hadn’t been for nothing, and the rotting was so slow that when I finally did acknowledge the rotten mush that was my marriage last year it was completely black. Not even fit for banana bread.

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There were thousands of good moments along the way but sometimes I wonder that we weren’t mismatched from the start. Two dysfunctional people who fell madly in love but were just never able to get it together. Not oil and water so much as gas and fire.

I love the man more than I can explain in a few paragraphs here. I know his strengths, his weaknesses, every annoying habit, the funny, perceptive way he views the world, the way he laughs boisterously at the stupidest parts of movies while shoveling popcorn at his face; the annoying way he constantly rubs his fingers together to make a sandpaper sound; the way he doesn’t walk so much as glide; how much he loves me. In many ways, I love him now more than ever before. But I can’t go back. I can’t. They say you can never go home again and it’s true. Too much has happened, too much has been said.

I feel scarred by his words. Battle wounds from the war of our marriage. If all the hurt suffered over the years physically manifested itself on my body I would be so disfigured people would stare at me in open-mouthed horror at grocery stores. Same goes for him. I destroyed him over the years. Emasculated him, made him feel worthless, refused sex—often as a response to the horrible things he said to me. At the end I felt sub-human. Catatonic. May as well have been dead.

He wrote something so profound the other day it took my breath away. “Seems to me that as a result of that deeper appreciation/value for kissing that most women seem to have, whenever men (me!) do any kind of possible damage to a girl, be it physical or psychological or even superficial; whenever a dude calls his girl nasty names or puts her down or knocks her opinions or choices or beliefs, there is a very, very good chance that he has done some real damage to every future kiss they might have shared. I can make this claim because I think it’s really true in my case.”

Divorce is as hard as anything I’ve ever done, including marriage.

Even if I could let go of all that came before my decision to leave, I know that the man who said those things to me, who made me feel that way, is still there. I know he’s sorry, I know he didn’t really mean it, I know I was just as big of an asshole in response but, just like the way you kind of regress back into your asshole teenage self when you stay at your parent's house and every, single thing your mom says gets on your nerves, often when I’m around Serge I feel that regression take place. No matter how calm and awesome I am on my own I immediately devolve into the awful me I was for so much of our marriage. Underneath the Zen guy he as become in the wake of our separation I can see it happen to him sometimes too; I’ll catch glimmers of that guy who said all those things to me hovering beneath the veneer of his newfound respect for me and I nearly throw up remembering what we were like at the end of our marriage.

He is who he is and I am who I am. I don’t want to change him. I like him just the way he is but the way he is, the way we are, it doesn’t work more than it does. You can try to jam a square peg into a round hole as hard as you can for as long as you want and still, you’re just going to end up with a handful of splinters.

I want to make it work. Who wants divorce? Every time some insensitive jerk-off leaves a comment on my blog or Facebook page advising that divorce is never good for children and I’m "giving up" or "taking the easy way out" my body buzzes with anger. It reminds me of the argument often given to support the fact that someone was born gay; that they didn’t choose to be gay because can you imagine making a choice to live such a difficult life? I wouldn’t fathom comparing divorce to living a life fighting homophobic behavior at every turn, but I do feel there is a similarity in the analogy in that you think divorce is the easy way out? Are you kidding me? The past year has been the most difficult of my life. I have constant anxiety and a resulting stomachache, my hair is falling out because of something called stress alopecia and I’ve cried myself to sleep more often than not. Not seeing my children half the time is the easy way out? Separating finances and trying to afford everything on my own is easy? Feeling so lonely I ache is easy? Trying to negotiate parenting with someone who had totally different ideas than me even when we were married is the easy way out? Splitting holidays is easy? Eventually seeing another woman play mom to my kids and love the man I gave my life to for ten years will be the easy way out?

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No. Divorce is as hard as anything I’ve ever done, including marriage. But there comes a time when being together becomes more detrimental to your kids than separating. Whether you’re fighting loudly or it’s the silent resentment seething beneath the surface of the relationship—which is often louder than the arguments—kids feel all of that way down deep in their little bones. It becomes part of their DNA and they never forget. I’d rather be dead than subject my children to that environment as opposed to the newfound respectful, calm and even happy arrangement we are currently forging.

All the smug (always married) people who say, "You just didn’t try hard enough" don’t know what they’re talking about. They might some day when their own marriage becomes as suffocating and torturous as water boarding no matter what they do. People change, emotions shift, perceptions are altered and it just stops working no matter how many hours of couples therapy you log. There comes a time when trying to continue marriage would be the equivalent of telling a gay person to ignore their sexuality and date the opposite gender. You can pretend for the rest of your life but you’ll always be living a lie.

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