I haven’t had the courage to write for the last few months despite the fact that the current events in my life are showing me emotions that I could have only dreamed of feeling months ago. Dreams. Nightmares. I liked that my readers felt emotions at the end of Don’t Wait For Me. But today – right now, I’m not sure if I will be able to match that emotion any time soon. Eventually, sure, but now? No.
You see, after being married for 12 years (in May) and together for 16 years – all of my adult life – I’m getting a divorce. This is where you recall the terrible, horrible divorce your parents had. Where you remember your painful, gut-wrenching break-up and eventual split with your spouse. Everyone has a story and has shared them with me over the last few weeks (which I appreciate).
Yet, that’s not my story. It’s not a war zone at my house - just an invisible barrier that I never knew existed until recently. I will not say anything unkind about my wife or violate her privacy by publically sharing the details of our demise. That’s not fair. And as much as divorce is about division, I can’t see what these two parts will be like alone. I haven’t experienced that yet, and quite frankly, I don’t want to. But like the invisible barrier that now seems solid as granite, the reality is here to stay.
A good friend of mine told me to keep writing. She was right and I tried, but the words didn’t come out how I intended. I’ve lived a good life. Happy. Good things have happened to me – many more good things than bad. So when I previously tried to write about bad things – things that inevitably happen to characters in a novel – I had to use my imagination. No more. Those feelings – the heart-pounding, sweat-inducing anger or brittle, cold isolation and loneliness aren’t abstract concepts. Those feelings that I once glossed over as a reader and a writer are all too real now. And I’m afraid to write them.
I thought I knew the end of my story. The story of my life. That solid foundation allowed me to craft new adventures within it. It allowed me to dream and dare to try things because I knew, no matter what, that the end of my story was already written. I knew the characters and their motivations. Maybe the words weren’t there and the timeline was fuzzy, but I knew the direction and felt good about it. But I can’t say that anymore. Not today. Don’t misunderstand, I’m sure I will find a new normal – and this isn’t a goodbye letter. I can draft a new chapter, but the ending has gotten away from me.
Every day I feel the indention of my absent wedding ring on my ring finger. I move to fiddle with it and realize that it’s not there. Just the dent where it used to be. I’m not sure when that feeling is supposed to go away. Maybe it’s like phantom pains from an amputee. What was once a part of you, will always be. At least in some ways.
I’m not absent love, both giving and receiving. I love my kids, my family and my wife’s family. And yes, I love my wife too, just in a different way than before. You can’t spend 16 years with someone without love.
I didn’t choose this twist in my story. It was inserted by an editor who had a different take on how things should turn out. There’s no point in fighting with the editor. Nor will I. Maybe it’s because once all the edits are in – painful, humbling and different as they may be – I can get started on that next chapter.
But that takes words. And right now, they aren’t coming.