Our Poly Life

Our life as a Polyamorous Quad, with 10 kids.

Life Unexpected

on September 23, 2010

It’s done.  The papers are signed.  Monday my lawyer stood in a court room where a stranger proclaimed our marriage officially dissolved.  I can now say I am now where I never considered I’d be. 

My marriage to Big wasn’t one of those “we’ll see how we do” types of things.  As a child of divorced parents with a long time single mother, I swore that would never be me.  It isn’t the life I wanted for my kids.  It wasn’t the legacy I wanted to leave.  If you’d asked me in 1988, 1998, or even 2008, I would have told you divorce was not an option for us.  I never believed that if things didn’t go well I could call scratch and start over.  When I make a commitment to someone or something, its iron clad; at least that is what I thought.

I’ve experienced a lot of paradigm shifts in my life, some more extraordinary than others, when my perspective on self is reexamined and I come out of the situation with a new lease on who I really am.  Usually it reads like, “Hmm, that was an unexpected response.  I wonder why I did that?  I wonder if that means I don’t really believe what I thought I believed?  I wonder if that changes who I am, or just who I thought I was?”

At 41, it is a very traumatic thing for me to be surprised at self.  It becomes the first step in a Domino Effect and within a period of time I find a systematic analysis of all facets.  If A changes, then does that necessarily change B, C, or D?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no.  Either way, it requires examination.

A few weeks ago a date passed by unmentioned.  It would have been, if celebrated, the 21st anniversary of my wedding to Big.  He had been warned by a certain child not to make a deal of it and he complied.  Knowing how details slip by, I cannot be assured if he kept quiet out of respect or because he forgot until sometime later that the day had passed.  A year earlier I sat in our counselor’s office and tearfully read him a letter carefully constructed.  I spared no emotion, and then I did what I thought was best for him and for our family – I released him.

The response I got that day was unexpected.  I heard many “I can’t believe that is what you’d want” statements.  Perhaps my ears were just closed to the underlying messages there, but at no time that day or in the first months that followed did I hear him say he wanted anything different.  I was asked on several occasions, “Are you sure this is what you want?” And each time my answer was the same.  “No, it isn’t what I want.  But what I want isn’t a possibility.”

There was no fighting after that.  An eerie calm came down, like the somber realization of a family standing in the remains of a house burnt to the ground.  There wasn’t anything left to say, nothing to point out or win.  Just realize we’d lost everything and get back to the daily task of doing what we each had to do.

It wasn’t as if it didn’t affect me.  There were days when getting out of bed was the hardest thing I had to do all day.  There were weeks where the people around me acted as I was made of fine china; handling me with the upmost of care for fear I would shatter in their hands at any moment.  And I asked myself everyday if I’d done the right thing.  I asked myself what I could have done differently to produce a more appealing conclusion.  I asked why I wasn’t enough, why our family wasn’t enough.  I rethought every action and decision of the decade.  Eventually my train of thought came back around to the same station – knowing what I knew, I wouldn’t have changed anything.  I feel confident that I made the best choice I could for each situation every step of the way. 

Of course, there were times I could have been more tactful, could have been stronger; could have rephrased a certain request or statement for less impact.  Maybe what I should have done was been more intense, been more vocal, or stood firmer in my resolve.  But all of those thoughts are merely “what ifs.”  There is really no way of knowing how something could have been different, or if any other deviation would still have led us back to the inevitable conclusion. 

Regardless of the endless rehashing, we are where we are.  The “what ifs” don’t really matter; questioning the past really doesn’t change the reality.

Throughout our twenty three years together, I can remember the subject of only a very few fights.  In the grand scheme of things, Big and I didn’t really “fight;” we discussed.  And normally once we resolved whatever temporary issue happened to be, we put it behind us and moved on.

In the last few years, that was not always the case.  I remember most of our disagreements and the hurts they caused.  Big would ask me why I could so easily recall the painful times and forget the good parts of our life together.  Maybe the answer is because I feel like we got less resolution on the pressing issues.  We simply squared off in opposite corners, wanting mutually exclusive conclusions. In place of resolution, we walked away with resentment.

And it just makes me wonder how long I will mourn the “should” in my life.

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.”  ~William Hazlitt

~The Laundry Goddess, September 15, 2010

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2 responses to “Life Unexpected

  1. Ourquad says:

    I’m so very sorry you’ve had to find yourself in the unexpected place. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  2. Diallo says:

    I am so sorry. I have read your story and was so hopeful it would turn out. Thank you for continuing to share with us here.

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