Parting Ways while Lying Down
I’m divorcing. No, he is divorcing me. It was not my idea and I won’t take responsibility for that part. He left me because he fell in love with another woman. I’m not sure that means he doesn’t love me, but it certainly means that he is not in love with me and so... Breakup. And Heartbreak.
It’s such a complicated thing, the feelings rage and I feel like a toddler going through the terrible twos as I try to navigate my feelings towards this. He has been my best friend for twenty years, does that break up too? I certainly hope not. But where does the friendship start and the love end? Does it ever really end? Will I spend the rest of my life waking up in the morning and thinking for the first ten seconds, "So that happened...!?"
In Swedish they say “I lie in a partingmass” (skilsmässa - divorce) while Icelanders like to “stand in parting”. These phrases now fascinate me endlessly and while I like the idea of standing upright through hard times I do understand the concept of lying down in this particular case. It eats at your whole system, pulls you apart and it truly feels like you go horizontal through all this. They say it’s the heart that breaks. I find that it’s my nervous system that takes the biggest hits though - it’s as if all my nerves are suddenly on the outside of my body, endlessly susceptible to outside stimulance. Everything hurts, from the little plastic star we’ve always kept in our bedroom window to the empty place beside my toothbrush. It becomes a sting in the entire body, a fire in the blood (and it would be so easy to just turn all this into pure anger, so much easier but I choose not to, every second I choose not to). And it makes sense that I’d lie down through such an ordeal.
I’ve been taking out the trash. The first thing I did was move the bed out of the room that used to be our shared bedroom. I rearranged the entire kitchen and then I started cleaning cupboards I have not touched in far too long. I also thew out the kitchen table I hated and bought a new one. Things like that keep the spirit occupied and small details derail the brain and spare the nervous system just a bit. The heart is a different matter, a very simple thing can trigger the heart and send the mind a signal to bombard the system again with hurt, nostalgia and actual fucking physical pain.
“It takes time.” “Time cures all.” People tell me these things, I’m sure I’ve said this to other people. Time does nothing but bring changes and new perspectives, hopefully new, interesting people too.
I doubt it makes this wound heal properly though, but with time you can get used to just about anything and I guess that when you’ve been in the world of “fine” for long enough you will find other things to be happy about and you will forget this for long periods. You can move on, though it’s impossible to imagine not being able to conjure up the hurt of that moment when the world came crashing in.
In English divorce is something you do, until it’s over then you are it. “I am divorced,” is the most surreal sentence in the English language I fear. I am a writer. I am a mother. I am bowling, or drinking tea. Being divorced is a badge of honour I guess. It means you went through a relationship, broke away from it (or were broken away from) and survived to tell the tale.
In Icelandic you “are” also divorced but in Swedish it is different. In Icelandic you can say “ég er skilin,” but in Swedish you say “jag har skilt mig” (I have divorced). A subtle difference.
In English you have words like “parting ways” and “separate” for the process. I like the first one best. You’ve been walking on a road together and now you will no longer be walking together. You reach a crossroad and you part ways. That’s all life is, isn’t it? Walking this road, finding your path, your own path and that’s what he’s doing, that’s what we all do. It's not a small irony that the day all this started I happened to give him a book with that very name, Road.
So I lie in partingmass and it feels like my nerve endings are being bombarded most of the time. My mind ricochets between a quiet hope for a better future and a wounded, bleeding hurt from having been betrayed. It’s two steps forward, one step back this process.
I lie in partingmass. It is raw and red still. But time will cover the wound with a thin layer of hope, friendship and laughter and it will enable me to stand up again. (I am so endlessly thankful for my friends right now).
I am not this divorce and never will be. I am who I am to a large extent thanks to this relationship and now it will cocoon for a while, transform and become something else and when my nerves will return to the insides of my body again, what we’ll have left is a joint parenthood and a wonderful friendship.
I lie in partingmass in this cocooned state. Afterwards I might turn into a butterfly, who knows? And it’s hard and it hurts and the anger is so great at times it could consume me entirely if I’d let it but I choose to smile, understand and do my very best not to be a raging bitch through all this. And it’s not easy.
It’s still early. This too shall pass and something good will come of it I’m sure, but until then I’ll carry my nerves on the outside of my body so if you see me looking grim in the grocery store line then I’m probably holding back the tears because this isn’t something I am - this is a pain I am carrying constantly these days. Times are changing. I have a dog now (never thought I’d say that, then again I never thought we would part either) and I have a wonderful little girl who deserves the best, happiest me she can get.
And that, my friend, is a wonderful thing.