I’m having a really low moment. This moment is full of grief over the loss of my best friend. I want to talk to him, to feel that comfort again. That comfort, however, is gone. He is no longer my best friend.

Well-meaning people avidly protest our divorce, “But, are you sure?” They say. “He sounds very lost and confused, and it’s all so quick. Wouldn’t it make sense to just spend some time apart instead of getting a divorce?” These questions cause fresh wounds to rip open again. Deep in my soul, I know he no longer loves me the way he once did or he would be fighting for us. I think he has known subconsciously for some time that he wants a divorce. He was just not brave or aware enough to tell me in a less destructive way.

It’s hard not to take his desire to separate from me and our marriage personally. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that I did everything I could. In my rationale moments, I know I did, but there are times when the darkness engulfs me, and I am dragged down into the murky depths of doubt. At my core, I am a fighter. I always have been.

This, however, makes letting go of control difficult. But, I must. My soon to be ex wants a divorce. He does not love me in the way I deserve. What can a person do in this situation besides accept their fate and pray for resolution? Pray that all will be as it should and is meant to be?

Small Talk

I’ve always found small talk to be a necessary evil. An illusion to push past in order to get to the real stuff that matters. These days, I feel repulsion and anger when someone attempts to ask me about the weather. Of course, this anger is not directed at strangers. How could they know my state of grief? My anger mostly surfaces with friends who, with positive intent, feel it best to avoid addressing my current state head on.

In my reflection of these friends, I know that their avoidance stems from an inability to be able to sit with my pain. They want it to go away. Maybe it forces their own pain into perspective? And, they cannot bear to look.

In my obstinance, I have sometimes taken to providing one word answers to small talk.

“How is the weather?”


“Is it nice spending time with your nephew?”


Maybe it forces their marriage or their partnership to feel uncertain, un-analyzed, un-confronted, and the la la land of love to feel threatened. My story is scary: a partner one day committed, the next day not. I know how it feels to have this la la love land threatened. I’ve been there.

I used to look at couples who had split up and think, “What a shame. Why didn’t they work it out? Why didn’t they try harder for their marriage? If only they could have been brave enough to dig deep and address their resentments.”

I feel I did this in my marriage. I am, by no means, a perfect person. But, I fucking tried. And this is the most heartbreaking part: it takes two souls to be committed to each other to work through the hard times. It feels so apparent now that our American ideology of independence and ability to conquer anything we put our minds to is a falsehood. So much in life requires teamwork to be successful. So much in life requires faith in each other.

Park Stranger

These days, I walk for hours on end, surprised at my own ability to remain standing despite my lack of sleep or appetite. Once I get going, it’s hard to stop. I listen, re-listen, and re-re-listen to Tosha Silver’s Outrageous Openness. I seek comfort in spirituality as I amble, not knowing where I’m going.

The other day, I found myself at a nearby park with a child’s swing set. Relief swept over me as I swung back and forth. Nothing in my world makes sense anymore, and it felt comforting to actually have the outside world mirror my inward turmoil: the world whipping by as I swung, time speeding up and slowing down as my focal point changed.

I extended my legs and my torso, letting my head flop back as my body became horizontal to the ground, my hair dragging along bits and bobs of forest fall decay that I would later disentangle in the shower. I closed my eyes. I let my emotions wash over me: shock, anger, dismay, hurt, betrayal, sadness, guilt, regret, longing. The longing is the hardest for my mind to admit. It’s not that I want back what we had as that clearly was not working. It’s that I long for the feelings of security and comfort I had in our relationship. We really were best friends.

Throughout the day, memories of our former life will hit me and huge cataclysmic waves of sorrow rush forth, threatening to knock me into despair. Memories of us picking up trash together in the neighborhood. (Will I do this when I live there by myself?) Memories of walks in the park nearby. (Will I ever be able to go there by myself without the deep pain and knowledge of love lost?) These fears strangle me, and I feel a fight coming on to suppress them, so I write. I get them all out on paper so that they may no longer live in my head.

As I swung, so did my emotions. Listening to a curated Spotify divorce therapy playlist, some songs would make me laugh out of the incredulity of my current situation. Others would rile me up, and I seethed with anger. Others would soften my heart and wet sobs would erupt. Selena Gomez’s “Hate You to Love Me” came on, and I couldn’t help but belt it out. Feeling the lyrics and melody with every fiber of my being in what I would soon realize was my heartfelt debut to an audience of one. Out of the corner of my eye, a middle aged southern man who had brought his weights from his house was staring at me from the park tables nearby, transfixed, his face a mask of concern (over his safety or mine, who knows?!) and confusion.

But, I have no shame right now. What have I got to lose? I’ve already lost it all.

Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes” came on next, and I continued my performance, allowing myself to be seen and heard by this stranger. Grief is meant to be seen, and this is my time and my space to grieve, damn it!

Then, I got up, and I walked on.

Canker Sore

A canker sore has developed on the side of my tongue due to stress and lack of sleep. It is one of the worst I can recall. The pain radiates to the back of my throat and into my jaw. The physical pain distracts me from the emotional pain and for that, I am grateful. When this sore is healed, will my emotional pain have lessened as well?

I’ve spent the last few days informing friends of the news, friends that I know in my gut I can trust to be there for me. I will need these friends in the days to come. I tell them the story, laying out my confusion, laying out the facts as they occurred. Most of my friends are the logical type-A type for which follow up questions are key to understanding. I work with them to understand, but my tongue is tired, my wound growing with each syllable.

It’s time to stop talking and just listen.

The Cut

When you unintentionally cut yourself, you don’t immediately feel the pain. The shock of the situation arrives first, a suspension of time while your brain orients to the cut. This is often followed by searing, agonizing pain, a realization of loss. Finally, anger roars in, a defense mechanism against the pain. Anger provides the strength that spurs on action like a pissed off woman in labor mustering up the ability to push a melon out of a pinhole.

Is this the pattern my emotions will soon follow? Where is my anger? When will it arrive, searing hot and murderous?

The Voice

It has now been one week since I flew down south to be with my sister. I awoke this morning feeling somewhat peaceful. The sharp and acute pain of my reality is settling in to an acceptance and specifics. Who gets to keep the car? Who will keep our cat? Should I go back to work or take short term disability leave?

My days have been following a pattern: rise from slumber, wash up, put away bed, go for a three hour rambling walk, come home, eat lunch, do things on the computer, shower, get in bed, talk with my sister and watch TV until I eventually doze off.

The days seem to march on though I am unsure how. Time moves quickly and slowly all at once. In one moment, I’m confused about what to do with my time. In the next moment, I’m worried about how I’m going to get everything done that needs to get done as the weight of anxiety fastens itself to my chest, clingy and desperate.

“Pay attention to me!” It shouts. I don’t want to. I want to make lists and master the divorce process. I want to know everything there is to know about what is going to be happening to me in this next phase of my life. But, this is foolishness. The only certainty in this world is the uncertain. The only certainty in this world is change. Every second of every day, our world is ever-changing. Any attempt to distract myself away from the pain of this realization feels wrong. It layers anxiety onto my despair.

So, I’m trying to sit still, to provide myself the space to grieve, to provide myself the comfort of a friend who is unafraid of my sorrow. I whisper back to the voice in my head, “I’m here. I will sit with you in your grief. I will hold your hand. I will comfort you and when I feel I cannot, I will ask for help.”

Q found a mediator last night. I did a bit of research and agreed with his selection. So, the process begins. I have such conflicting emotions. I want it to move quickly, to rip the bandaid off, to get on with my life, to get through the practical necessities of divorce and to move into my reawakening as a single woman. At the same time, it all feels too quick. It feels like a knife entering my chest. Nothing feels right or secure. Nothing makes sense.

I keep contemplating what I would do if Q all of a sudden decided he doesn’t want a divorce, that he wants to work on things. Would I take him back? I honestly do not know if I would be able to love him again. A part of me died when I accepted his lack of commitment to our marriage. If he gets his self-worth through our marriage and doesn’t see this, how can he make the changes necessary for us to have a healthy relationship? How have I contributed to an unhealthy relationship?

You don’t end a marriage because you find your sex life to be unfulfilling. It doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t know why he wants a divorce, so how can I know? How could I trust him again? Do I really want to hang around, waiting with no guarantee while he figures it out? His basic core state has a tendency for flightiness, for lack of fully committing himself to a task when the going gets hard. I just never thought, foolishly never thought, that this would apply to my marriage.

Shrimp Fajitas

Last night I got stoned in order to ease my anxiety around falling asleep. I slept better than I have since my world was flipped upside down. I say this as if I was a passive participant. In many ways, I was. In some ways, I wasn’t. I have been reflecting on all the ways I’ve seen Q not demonstrate commitment. I averted my eyes to keep from seeing the truth: that he could also give up on us, that he would cease to be committed to our marriage just as he had ceased to be committed in other areas of his life.

I’ve been contemplating how my love for him has changed since he asked me for a divorce. The terrifying reality is, I don’t think I love him any more. How can this be? How can you go from loving someone so deeply and with such commitment one week to no longer having these feelings the next? We often see love, especially romantic love, as either growing or fading. We don’t think of love as being snuffed out. Romantic love is a choice. Marriage is a choice. Commitment is a choice. I woke up every day and chose my marriage, my commitment. I chose to overlook flaws. I lost site of the forest from the trees. I fell in love with a version of Q that was not the reality of who he is. I do not love the reality of Q.

Now that the shock and anger has somewhat subsided, the pain and mourning what has been lost has replaced it. In my stoned state, my mind flitted to warm memories of our marriage: to our sayings, to our cuddling on the couch and in bed, to our inside jokes. And, my heart was ripped open again knowing these moments are forever gone. Our marriage is over. Our love as it was is gone. My love is gone, replaced with grief and anger, sadness and compassion, terror and empathy. I oscillate.

I felt better this morning than I have yet felt waking up. Maybe it was the full eight hours, maybe it’s simply the passage of time, maybe it’s the pot. I went for my morning walk, a ritual I’ve developed since coming to stay with my sister. On this walk, I listen to “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a guide to mindfulness and meditation. Kabat-Zinn cites that at the heart of impatience is anger.

I am impatient. I want to move through the anger and grief and on to acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. I no longer want to feel the pain of our memories, but to be able to look upon them fondly for what they were, with no attachment. But, as I arrived back to my sister’s house, a weight clunked into my abdomen and my anxiety arose. “Maybe I just need to eat something,” I thought, “Then I’ll feel better.” But, as I sat down to eat, the tears began to stream down my face. It’s very difficult to not choke on shrimp fajitas while sobbing. After some sage advice from a divorced friend, I give in. I put the fajita down. I let the sadness wash over me as I mourn, as I sob, mouth wide in downturned horror.

It’s okay. Feel it. Let yourself feel it so you can put it to bed. Then, get up because life goes on.


One Week Following

It’s been nearly a week since Q asked me for a divorce. I have moved from shock to total acceptance. I had a call with a mutual friend of Q and mine this morning, and I feel like my eyes are opening to the realities of my relationship. This mutual friend believes Q and I were in a codependent relationship. Were we?

The internal dialogue of my post-mortem analysis thus ensued. It’s clear that Q is lost. He doesn’t know what he wants in life, in his career, or with kids. Have I been the one constant for him in these past nine years? Did he place so much of his self-esteem on our marriage that when I “rejected” him in sex, his ego took a beating, and he ended our marriage? On the night of the culling, when he asked for a divorce, he explained that he would “likely spend the rest of his life trying to figure this out.” I demanded an answer. I demanded an answer without a bullshit explanation.

He explained that in his being committed to us, he had lost his commitment to himself. Because of my not desiring him enough sexually, his confidence had been brought to such a low that he felt unloved and unseen. He saw his constant initiation of discussion around our sex life as him working on our sex life. I saw it as a continual statement of his dissatisfaction and my inability to please him. In my eyes, our sex life became all about his desires and his needs, and I began to see sex as a duty.

When Q provided me pleasure, it was not without strings. He would bring up his willingness to please me in our next discussion,”Why are you not able to give me back what I provide to you?” How could I desire him when sex had become all about his desires and about none of my own? He put me in a catch-22 situation. He was desperate for me to desire him and for me to express my desires, but how could I do this when there was so much weighing on my desire, when my ability to say no was taken away because his entire self-esteem was weighing on my yes? His constant need for reassurance smothered my sensuality, my sexuality, which in turn reinforced his feelings of rejection. In my anger, my brain shouts, “My being tired and not wanting to have sex with you when you want sex should not break you as a man!” This catch-22 is what Stephen Snyder, M.D., in his book Love Worth Making calls a “sex knot”. Sex knots are cycles couples find themselves in that, while they take effort, are breakable, fixable. They are common.

Q’s explanation of why he would like a divorce did not make sense to me. You’re going to end our marriage over something fixable? No. This is not logical. My post-mortem thus moved to other potential explanations. As our mutual friend had suggested, were we in a codependent relationship? How many times did Q use me/us as his basis for making decisions? I wanted a year long fellowship and went for it after college. He didn’t know what he wanted to do after school and thus followed suit, applying for a different fellowship as well that would put him abroad for a year. He didn’t know what career path he should be on and thus he followed me to a new city where I was taking a new job. He then proceeded to start and stop three different business ventures, none of which panned out. Now, he wants to go back to grad school for a completely different career though I have financially supported us for the past three years as he groped blindly for what might make him happy.

If we were truly in a co-dependent relationship, I want to own my piece in creating this. I want to learn from this heartache, this wrenching apart of my soul. I want to grow and feel powerful in taking responsibility for my actions. But, how did I contribute? I gave, and I gave, and I gave. I thought, “If I continue this giving, I will be worthy of love.” I did not realize I was already profoundly worthy of love. I still do not feel innately worthy of love. Why do I feel this way? This is mine to own. What else is mine to own?

Grief is strange. It is a capricious experience of moving from utter heart-wrenching sadness, to feeling rage, to feeling hopeful and excited about my future. One moment I’m collapsing onto the floor, tears streaming down my face, shoulders slumped over. The next, I’m dancing and singing in the bathroom, closing my eyes and letting waves of joy wash over me. One moment, I’m wondering how I will be able to renovate our half finished house on my own, the next I’m reminding myself that I’m a badass bitch that can do anything I set my mind to.

Grief is a portal to the past and the future. In this space, you stop noticing time and only notice feeling and thoughts, memories and pain. I find myself sucked into these portals, losing track of the days. When I land back in the present I marvel, “How long have you been thinking? How long have you been feeling?” In my grief, the hours and minutes cease to exist and time is boundless, smothered by the ferocity of feeling. How did I make it onto a plane to fly to my sister? I will never know.

I have always been acutely aware of time, as any organized type-A personality type might be. Before the culling, my day began with a to do list followed by the creation of an hour by hour schedule, managing my tasks. The grief portal does not permit such type-A behavior. But, I think I am emerging from the depths of darkness. Yesterday, I began to notice time again. I’m not ready to re-engage with my task oriented mindset yet though. I just focus on doing the next right thing.

To quell the grief and find respite, I’m taking these sleeping meds that have oxy in them. Oh boy… they are goooood. Kind of like slipping into a warm pool of light and love. Everything around you is beautiful and you feel safe, sheltered from the scary thoughts that barrel into your brain late at night. These meds are a shield that shout at my thoughts, “You shall not paaaaass!” I’m worried I will get addicted to them, but then, my sister tells me I shouldn’t worry because I AM worrying about getting addicted. My father tells me I don’t have an addictive personality. So, I take them.

With these meds in tow, I’m already feeling the grasping tendrils of my relationship with Q loosen. I know that to fully release him will take time, but the fact that this is already occurring for me makes me hopeful for the future.

I know Q is lost and in pain and for that I have the utmost compassion. I pray for his healing. I pray for him to wake up for his own sake, for his own peace. Perhaps this is his rock bottom, and he needed to hit it in order to come to his senses? Yet, I still struggle with my own anger towards him. I pray for my own peace. I pray for strength and bravery to face each day, to face each capricious expression of feeling with open arms.

Four Days Following

It has been four days since Q asked me for a divorce. Yesterday, I went to an urgent care in order to get some prescription sleeping medication. I hadn’t slept a full eight hours in a week. In fact, I was probably sleeping only three to four a night, with some nights containing no sleep at all.

There I sat in the doctor’s office, feet dangling from the hospital bed, the crunching sound of the sanitary paper echoing in the empty sterile room each time I made one small movement. I’m sure I looked a mess. I hadn’t eaten or slept in a week. I sat there with shoulders slumped, periodically erupting into cacophonous sobs. When I checked in at the front desk, the receptionist asked me to fill out some paperwork, listing out my reasons for requiring urgent care. “Need medication” is what I listed. I am honest.

“Ma’am?” the receptionist called out after I had dropped off my paperwork, thanked her and was heading back to a waiting room chair, “Can you come here please?” I shuffled back. “You’re going to have to put something else as your reasoning or the doctor won’t see you,” she said. I believe I ended up filling the blank in with “extreme exhaustion.”

When my urgent care doctor finally entered the room to see me in my dishevelment, she gave me an unsanctioned COVID hug and whispered, “I’m going through the same thing.” Divorce is a uniting force it seems. She prescribed some sleeping medication, and I slept for a full 8 hours for the first time in a week. Bless this urgent care doctor whose name I do not remember. You have saved my sanity in these first few days.

I awoke this morning, four days after the culling, feeling weary, scared, and anxious, waking from my dreams into the nightmare. In the first few days after the bomb had been dropped, I awoke wondering if my marriage was really over. Now, I wake to acceptance. I pray, “Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go. If it is meant to be mine, it will stay. If not, whatever is better will replace it” (a Tosha Silver “Outrageous Openness” original). I pray to forgive the man I thought I would spend my life with. I pray to one day no longer hold anger in my heart for him. I pray for strength.

Last Sunday, Q came home from swim practice and asked if we could have a discussion. “I don’t think I want to have kids,” he started, “I don’t want to give up the freedoms I currently have. I want to spend more time with you in our marriage.” I reacted neutrally and expressed my desire to explore the root of what this means, to explore its potential impact on our marriage. We barely slept for the week, both of us agonizing over whether we could sacrifice our desires to have and not to have children. I agonized over whether I really want children. I wept during the day in between work calls. I sought out family and friends. Thursday night, after having spent the evening with a friend who has two kids, I came home resolved. I would choose my marriage over children.

I informed Q of this. He replied, “I’m feeling the opposite.” He wanted out. He cited feeling unfulfilled in our sex life, which had caused him to feel unloved and unseen. He cited this being a deal breaker for him. I was shocked. I saw issues within our sex life as very normal, long-term relationship issues, the kind that you continue to work on with each other, not the kind where you throw away your whole life you’ve built together. Besides, our marriage was by no means sexless. We probably averaged once a week. And sure, it wasn’t mind blowing, fuck you in the kitchen kind of sex, but we’d been together for nine years for fuck’s sake.

I suggested we explore opening up our relationship to other partners. He declined. I suggested we give his parent’s another call to talk through our issues and seek support. He declined. I re-read him my wedding vows. He replied that he no longer feels the same. I asked, “You really don’t think we can work on this?” His answer, a resolute no.

The next morning, I flew down south to stay with my sister.

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