It’s kind of odd because this is also the very first time/year that I have actually stopped to realize that said anniversary was approaching.
The act that pitched me into the crucible was getting divorced.
I had been contemplating it for a long time (for reasons into which we shall not venture, mmkay?) and had decided to wait until New York’s no fault divorce law went into effect so that I wouldn’t have to specify one of the four possible grounds for divorce that were available before that.
Did you know that? Until about five years ago, New York had six grounds for divorce:
- Abandonment, including Constructive Abandonment (which I like to refer to as the “No Nookie” rule)
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Living separately pursuant to a signed Separation Agreement that was one year old, and
- Living separately pursuant to a separation decree or judgment.
Only four of those were available to me at the time and I didn’t really like any of them.
But I digress.
Once the paperwork was finalized and the nice judge sent us mail saying we weren’t married anymore, I found myself in a pretty peculiar position. I was broke and not yet working, so I couldn’t move. My former spouse claimed to be civilized about the whole thing (which translates into passive-aggressive) by letting me stay there “as long as you need to,” quoth he.
Before you knew it, he had gone online and found himself a new woman who he planned to marry as soon as he could, a lovely, 18 year old child from the Philippines (because, as he told our youngest son, you want to marry a woman from one of those countries where they’ll stay with you; American women leave).
Now, this was tough for me to watch, which I have no doubt is what he intended. I had most of the kids (originally, David had planned to stay with him, which wouldn’t have ended well, so it’s good that things have evolved the way they have) but he had the house and he had a job so he had money. And now he had the prospect of this little girl to warm his bed at night.
Me? I had nothing.
Well, that’s how it felt. I was lonely and frightened and poor and homeless. It seemed to me that the divorce had left him with everything and me with nothing, and I felt that wasn’t fair. I didn’t tell anybody at the time because I was ashamed of it but I felt that he deserved to lose something, too.
I needn’t have worried, I was to discover, because KARMA.
About a year after I got divorced, I was eagerly looking forward to stepping out of the old year and ringing in the new because that first year was truly dreadful. It was dreadful enough that there were a lot of things I had by then and I wasn’t stopping to appreciate any of them.
I was no longer lonely or afraid or homeless. I was still poor but I didn’t mind because life had taught me that I could handle it, I could care for my children alone. It was also, although I didn’t realize it at the time, the last New Year’s Eve that we would all be together (at least, for a good long while). I had come a long, long way and I had much to be thankful for.
From where I sit now, I’ve come even farther. Now, I am beyond the crucible. Most of the time, I don’t think about it very much. I don’t often ponder the intestinal fortitude it took to get that divorce in the first place. I give very little thought to the years of discipline and effort it took for me to get through college. I don’t even consider the other kind of discipline it took for me to keep the wolf from the door while I was doing it.
I felt so lost, so wounded back then.
I’m glad I had my kids and my friends who stood by me and listened to me and gave me hugs (literally and virtually) and love and support. I have been very lucky that way. There was a lot of pain when I entered the crucible and a lot more as I traveled through it.
Now, the crucible is behind me.
My journey continues. And I continue to heal.
I am content to have it so.