Schrodinger’s divorce

So, I am getting divorced. I just realized I never explicitly said that here, although I wrote directly about the reason why earlier this year. I haven’t written a lot about it here because my former spouse-person does read this stuff, and I have been doing my best not to unfairly throw my feelings at them around this (so, to you, fair warning that you may not want to read this one, I guess). I need to get this stuff out, though, and processing these kinds of feelings has been one of the major things this blog does for me, and I’m not willing to continue sacrificing this outlet for the sake of whatever-has-been-holding-me-back, so here we go.

My divorce is very amicable. The post linked above gives you the sunniest of all of my attitudes toward it, and its the one I’ve worked very hard to keep in the forefront as I’ve gone through the motions.

The short version is, when we decided to get married, I was very clear on the fact that marrying me was also a commitment to have kids with me, and my partner agreed to that. And then last year, about five years in, they let me know that they had realized they don’t want to have kids after all. Our divorce isn’t anyone’s fault, and neither of us did anything wrong.

And yet.

That’s not the only story there is to tell. And I can’t always stick to that one either, because it doesn’t even begin to honour all of the feelings I have about it.

Because the thing is, I am angry. I am so goddamn angry. I feel betrayed. I feel abandoned. The life I have been actively and consciously working on building has been torn down around me and I the only thing left standing is me, alone. (I mean, not really, but also yes really, that is what it feels like).

Because the other story goes something like this:

I met an amazing wonderful person who honestly change my life. Our relationship was just comfortable and good right from the start, and I knew I wanted to be with them, as much as I have ever known anything. They were someone I wanted to be with, and they were someone I loved the idea of raising kids with, specifically.

They were less sure at first (less sure about whether they wanted to marry at all ever; less sure about whether they wanted kids at all ever) but after a few years we decided to get married and that’s what we did.

For me, this meant we were a team, that I was no longer just building a life for myself, but rather we were working together to build a life (or two parallel lives anyway) for the both of us. And I loved this. This made me really happy.

I made different life choices than I would have without them. I limited my job searches to Toronto and the surrounding areas (despite the fact that both my career path and the whole having kids thing would have been easier elsewhere), because they were not willing to consider moving and I wanted to be where they would be. Every time we changed apartments, the search was more stressful and difficult than necessary for me, because they didn’t want to live in a high-rise, but since I can live happily just about anywhere, their preferences were the ones that mattered.

I forgave infidelity. More than once. And it wasn’t even hard, because when it came down to it, I knew this was the person I wanted to be with. I could feel it in my bones, and it was as simple as that, for me, always. We figured out better boundaries that were reasonable for both of us, that they could live within and that I could feel comfortable with.

We had a really good and strong marriage, to be honest. It of course had its problems, and we each had things about the other that were trying and wearing, because we are human, but we were dedicated finding ways of making it work, and we did a damn good job of it. Our marriage survived career changes (for both of us). Gender transitions (for both of us). The aforementioned infidelities. We barely even flinched.

But.

Over and over again, we put off having kids. Because they weren’t ready for that yet. Because they had a list of conditions we needed to meet before that could happen, some of which were reasonable, and some of which kept changing. Primarily though, they were stuck working retail and it was miserable and was causing them chronic pain problems, and it was priority to get them out of that hole, and obviously that is all reasonable. So I dedicated myself to helping them figure out what would make them happier to do for a living. I listened to them and helped them figure out their options for changing their career path. And they started working toward an awesome career path (one they are now pretty solidly on). I supported them through a year of school, after having more or less supported myself through my own school (apparently I can work and do a master’s degree at the same time, but they can’t. Whatever. This is the pettiest I’m going to get, I promise.)

I am most bitter about that year, though, because it was actually right when the light at the end of this tunnel finally came into view that they dropped the bomb on me. They were still in the middle of school at the time, and even though we both knew what it meant that they had decided to to not have kids, I decided I would continue to support them until they finished school and got a job, and then we’d start disentangling our finances, and everything else.

To be very, very clear: right up until that conversation happened, I had really thought we’d probably be actually seriously able to look at having kids within a year, or maybe two on the outside (i.e. around right now, as it happens). Instead, we are getting divorced and I don’t know whether that is ever a thing that will happen for me anymore.

There are so few things that I was unwilling or unable to compromise on. There are so many things I did compromise on, so many things I gave up on to be with them, and to help them reach their goals. And there was one thing in the entire world I wouldn’t give up for them, and that’s the one thing they decided they wouldn’t help me with.

It is the actual worst thing they could have done, within the realm of things it would have been even remotely plausible for them to do.

And so I am angry. I am angry that I have given up so many small and large potential opportunities in my life because I thought we were working together toward this one goal that is more important to me than anything. I am angry that I have apparently wasted more than half a decade by trusting someone else’s intention to help me with this goal, when if they had never made me that promise, I would have been looking elsewhere, and maybe I would have found someone who actually shared my conviction and desire.

If I hadn’t trusted in this person, over and over again. If I hadn’t been willing to wait for them. If I hadn’t convinced myself they were worth it, that it would work out in the end, who knows where I’d be now?

It definitely couldn’t be any more of a mess than this.

And so I’m angry. At myself, for trusting the wrong person. At them, for not wanting a thing I want so desperately for them to want.

I think about all the work and effort that went into the project that was our marriage, and I look at the nothing it has come to (half of the savings I thought I had; half of the furniture needed to fill an apartment; I feel like a failed adult).

And I feel so utterly abandoned.

The worst part is, I don’t even really want to start over. What I want is to turn back the clock two years, to when everything was still ok. When I was happy.

I still want the life we were building together. Yes, I want children above all else, and that is that choice I have made, but I also really very much wanted specifically to share that with this particular person. I can’t imagine a better life than the one I was promised to me and then had taken away.

Of course, there is no going back. I couldn’t even get those feelings back if I had the option to, any more. But I don’t know how to move forward from this, either.

I know that part of what I need it time. I know these things will heal. They have to.

And despite everything, I know my life is pretty ok, even great in many ways. I have a job I really, really love, that is fulfilling and that I am usually excited to go to. There are so many wonderful people in my life who love me and support me in various ways, and who I get to love and support as well. My life is full of wonderful things. The core of my life has fallen apart, but I am still in one piece, as I always have been, as I always am.

But at the same time, I am still really looking forward to the day when I can finally say that I got through an entire a week without crying myself to sleep.

And it is still very distinctly possible that the gamble I made on this marriage will ultimately mean that I never do get to have kids. To be honest, I think that is why I can’t decide how much anger it is appropriate for me to have, how much it is appropriate to actually direct at my partner, or at myself. Because only time will answer for me whether this is a forgivable betrayal on their part, whether this was a forgivable mistake on my part.

Only time will tell whether this is really an amicable break-up.

So yeah, it’s Schrodinger’s divorce.

8 comments

  1. 1. To put this into an admittedly weird perspective, this is the one issue that if you were straight divorcing Catholics, the tribunal would grant you an annulment faster than you could explain the problem. And they don’t do that for nobody. 2. You might still find someone who already has kids. I have been seeing lots of folks on the dating sites who say the one thing they wouldn’t do without is their kid(s). I respect that, though it is a red flag for me, but it might be a great thing for you. 3. Being alone for a while and sorting it all out (possibly with help) may make you a better parent down the line. 4. Don’t be afraid of your anger. Control it. Mine it. Put it into your work as energy. Remember nuclear containment.

    1. Thank you for all of this. And also LOL yes, admittedly the fact that this is the reason why I am getting divorced made the conversation with my (Catholic-raised, and still very Catholic in her feelings about marriage) mom about it so wonderfully easy – one of the few easy conversation I’ve had about big life decisions/changes with her :P

      And yeah, I mean, I haven’t given up hope yet, though finding someone who laready has kids is definitely not my ideal – usually they don’t want more, and a big part of my want-to-have-kids thing is also a specific desire to experience the whole pregnancy thing. I may be able to do that in other ways also, but in general, I’d prefer to actually grow a child of my own inside my body (in part because omg what a weird thing that my body can do!?)

      But yeah, this is a growth opportunity, and giving myself permission to be angry is definitely important too <3

  2. I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with this for such a long time and still are crying over it so often. I remember surprisingly clearly when you first posted about this relationship ending. I love how eloquently this was written. I feel like I completely understand your perspective after reading it, which is pretty impressive when it comes to something so personal. ;) It also, perhaps in a small way, helps me put my (bitter) feelings over my relatively recent amicable breakup into some perspective.

    I really hope with enough time (and perhaps “luck”) this can turn out to be forgivable and truly amicable. I hope that in the meantime, writing this and allowing yourself to really feel everything you’re feeling helps. You really do have every right and more to be angry and bitter and crushed by this. I think it was really brave of you to write this all out, especially where your former spouse might read it.

    1. Thank you! Writing this out definitely helped, and getting responses like this also helps. I definitely was in need of validation of these feelings, and while I have had some of that from friends and such, I have been holding back a lot that needed said.

      I am mostly pretty sure that things will wind up amicable, despite the rhetoric here, in large part because that’s what I want and I know time will make that easier. But right now, I sometimes need to wallow in the less than amicable feels :P

  3. Thank you for writing this post. It was really intense, and really powerful.

    Also you are awesome. I have my fingers crossed for you. I have all things crossed for you.

    That is all.

  4. “Only time will tell whether this is really an amicable break-up.” This touches a profound truth, I think, of every divorce. Only time will tell, only time will heal, only time can reveal what your healed heart wants to tell you.

    I am pleased for you, and proud of you, that you chose and were able to write all this down. I hurt for your hurt, of course. I also know divorce ish is always hard, always complicated; there is always betrayal of some sort, even in the most amicable split, even if it is only betrayal by our own human frailties.

    <3 to you.

  5. I hear you – I feel angry and let-down. I tried my best to be a good husband – and father- and as much as my wife would like to still be friends, that’s a really big ask. Going from losing your wife, best friend, and house all in go… that’s a lot to take on. Hang tough and stay strong, there are others out here thinking of you!

    :-)

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