Saturday, September 23, 2017

Art and Life

These days people ask me a lot how I'm doing. Not everyone knows, and most who do know only the tiny bit I've shared with the public. It's just a simple greeting that's often followed immediately by "How was your summer?"

Typically I answer with "fine," or "too short" or "hanging in there, getting used to the new place." But sometimes I'm tempted to be super honest and return with "devastating and refreshing and confusing and the hardest right choice I've ever had to make." Or maybe I can get straight to the point by returning with a question of my own: "Have you ever seen The Last Five Years?" I mean, it's not a perfect analogy, but it might get the point across.

And while I'm on the topic of divorce-related entertainment, I've been watching Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce on Netflix lately. If you're concerned, I promise I'm not actually using it as a guide or reference source or anything more than post kid-bedtime amusement. I mean, it takes place in Hollywood and is nothing like my current situation. At least, I'm pretty sure I didn't turn into a best-selling author overnight and JG hasn't gone from lamenting my choice in television programming to hooking up with a CW actress half his age.

There are some points they do get right in the show. The question mark of writing truthfully about something as raw as losing a love you once relied upon for stability and certainty in the world. The first nights without the kids. The way that committing to change can still feel wrong even when it feels right. That dream of a "good divorce." And also how there's something that happens when you go through relationship trouble that allows people around you that you assume are happy in their own relationships to share the crap going on behind the scenes past or present.

And that element reminds me of when I decided to start talking about wanting a baby and I realized how many women struggled for the same thing. I felt so alone until I encountered all the other voices saying "me too." And now I'm a voice that says, to a certain degree, I've been there, at least enough to understand the emotion, even if not the full complexity of your individual situation. Because the most painful experiences of our lives shouldn't be the topics most closed off in the world. Shouldn't the hardest trials we deal with be the ones for which we get the most support? Not shameful secrets that we pretend aren't happening as we go about our daily tasks of just making it through?

Now that school is back up and running a coworker (and also an Ivy grad woman of color) was discussing a babysitting issue with me. She asked if I was married - probably because in our discussion of who would watch the boys for back to school night I didn't mention their dad as someone I'd asked - I decided to just let her know I was separated. Her first reaction was "I'm sorry," and then quickly she said, "Well, maybe I shouldn't be? If it's right. When I was separated I wanted people to be happy for me for getting out of a terrible marriage." We didn't dwell on it, but I thanked her. Not just for sharing about herself, but for so openly accepting how complicated it is when a marriage is ending. I mean, no one goes into marriage thinking it will end. But no one gets out of it if they were truly altogether happy in it either. I don't know that I want people to be happy or sad or any emotion on my behalf. This is just where I am now.

Something broke, so we're apart. Quite possibly forever. And coming to terms with that truth is a journey I've not yet completed. But in this stage here, I'm ok. And wherever I end up I'll be ok too. Even if it isn't my current best case scenario dream. I don't need movies or TV shows to tell me that.

And until I know where my journey is going to end, relationship wise, I'll keep working hard and playing hard and figuring out how to take a decent selfie.