Three years ago today I posted that Owen and I were separating.
We filled out the divorce paperwork last week. At some point, pending administrative failure, my divorce decree will arrive in the mail.
I find myself . . . sad.
I have wondered if I should have stayed, although it’s not because I missed him or missed our marriage. Mostly I wondered if it was all that bad or even bad enough that I was entitled to be done. He didn’t beat me, spend his paycheque at casinos. Mostly I have a series of sixteen years of stories where my ex was just . . . not really interested in me, in what was happening in my life, in what I had to say. I have an ironclad notion that he was not going to change and while it wasn’t going to get worse, it wasn’t going to get better either. I suppose it’s not dramatic, but “well, he’s not so bad” doesn’t seem like a reason to stay married.
I am happier on my own. I am lonely, but I was desperately lonely while I was married too. I’m the only person to shovel the walks and perform household maintenance and figure things out with the car, but I don’t have to hint, ask, or beg, so it seems easier. I can decide to eat oatmeal for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking and there’s no one to complain about a lack of dinner. It turns out that I crawl into bed alone, tell Alexa to play Radio Swiss Classic and read whatever I want, and that feels good. It feels good to mow my own lawn and learn to use the cordless drill, make my own mistakes and figure out how to fix them. It feels good to walk into a space that is entirely mine and know that it is safe – no one will harangue me about a water bottle left on a table, a light left on. It feels good to cook for others and not hear complaints about the cost of meals and generosity.
So, why the sad?
I suppose I’m sad because I still believe in the notion of romantic love. Almost certainly not in the way that I did when I got married in 2001, but I still believe in the notion of caring and loving a person. I believe in the benefits of care, concern, companionship. I’m not soured on marriage, I don’t think it’s a useless institution.
I’m sad because I gave my word. I promised for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, until death do us part. And then I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I think to make an oath matters and I know that I broke mine. I think that’s sad, even if I would do it again and acknowledge it’s better that I did break my word.
The sadness is for a time. I’m particularly aware that I broke my word these days. It’s also sadness for what could have been and never really was. That, I think will take longer to resolve. It may, I am realizing, never fully resolve.
I can live with that small bit of sadness, I think.