While talking about the measures I took to restore my health was a major test in vulnerability for me, this blog entry is significantly more difficult because, well, pride. I am intensely private about my personal life, preferring to put all my feels in the sanctuary of a poem, but as of last September, I have found myself being put in the position to be more open about a major decision that has completely overhauled my entire life. This is a way to cover a lot of ground at once, so bear with me, because this is mostly unscripted.
So, long story short, as you may have gathered from the title, I’m going through a divorce. For those of you who enjoyed following along with “The Poohbear Chronicles,” I am sorry to say that the series has been cancelled. This is not one of those messy, public situations where people are slinging mud. In fact, our intent has been to be as amicable as possible, recognizing that we are better off not being spouses. Do I still care about my soon-to-be-ex-husband? Absolutely. Do I still believe in our vows? Undeniably. It’s just that those vows will be enacted in a different habitat as we move forward through this process.
This is not to say that this is a comfortable experience by any means. Quite the contrary, it’s been excruciatingly painful. We were together for almost ten years, married for seven. We had a gorgeous wedding, surrounded by our loved ones, we have been one another’s best friend for all that time. I will never, ever, ever regret marrying him. He is my first true love. That is the seat he will always retain in the halls of my heart. He was the person who had a front row chair to my most unfiltered and ugliest moments and he watched and supported me through all of my brightest and best. He also probably literally saved my life while nursing me back to health last year, taking me to the ER, doctor’s appointments, and driving me to gigs when I didn’t have the strength, and sometimes getting up to sit with me when I woke up shaking with pain. Not being able to talk to him, by forcing some distance between me and my best friend, about this whole thing, has been the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. He has always my sounding board. My go-to. My person. Not being able to reach for him physically and psychologically has felt like groping around with a phantom limb.
But by September, with newfound understanding of my personal needs and hopes for the future, I realized my worst fear having to do with a relationship, that we had grown incompatible in too many ways to reconcile. I wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy. And I wanted to leave before I started to hate him. I love him too much to hate him. But I realized that part of the stress that was taking a toll on my physical health, in addition to the psychological and physical stressors throughout the rest of my life, was trying to salvage or remain in a situation with someone whose life had become so vastly different from mine. Change is the nature of the universe and the woman I am at thirty-three is not the young woman I was at twenty-five when we married. I have different motives, different needs, and a different perspective on life. We had just grown incompatible in too many ways to save it unless one of us sacrificed their happiness for the other. And that is not just not fair to ask of anyone.
So, I moved out. And back into my Dad’s house (But I found an apartment today! Yay!) and I am re-learning what it means to be a daughter, what I want out of a living arrangement, what I want and expect from another person in a serious relationship. I’m getting to know myself again and who I am apart from him. And honestly, I’ve never felt so exposed, not even while reading my most intimate poems. It’s terrifying, knowing that you are reading this.
And there are so many things I’m unsure of now. I’m unsure now as to whether I want to even have children anymore. Of whether or not I am interested in marriage or even monogamy moving forward. I don’t know that I even believe in love the same way. Right now I believe it’s a mixture of chemicals released in our brains that attract us to someone and keep us there. But maybe it’s because I’m in my bitter phase. When you invest a third of your life almost into someone and you still don’t know what you have to show for it, I mean, hey. I’m giving myself permission to feel a little bitter. Angry. Frustrated. Resentful. Not necessarily all towards him, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t that too. And I’m honestly, relieved, that from now on, or at least at the moment, I only have to worry about me as I move forward. And I feel ashamed for feeling that way.
I heard that this is all part of the process. Someone told me recently, “Don’t worry. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.”
So, what did we decide? Originally, there was no plan to make this public using a social media or virtual platform. For both of us, at the time, it felt a bit melodramatic and unnecessary. But apart from the fact that I’m a writer and eventually HAVE to get this out of my system on the page and often require an audience to bear witness, there’s the issue of the fact that he and I have been a very public couple with a lot of our lives on display in our community and on social media. We have our independent artistic practices but as a couple, we were labeled a power couple. Lexington’s Jay and Bey. It was a lot to live up to. And that’s how people know us. It’s weird because when they find out, people keep saying things to us like, “You all are going to have a lot of let down fans.” Fans. Of our marriage. Oof. So we’re not only rebuilding our own lives but trying to find a way to seamlessly let go of an identity as a unit that in some ways perhaps got in the way of our private lives.
I know I’m not alone. So at long last, I’ve reached out to friends, family members, a therapist, and a spiritual circle for help. That was one of the lessons I learned last year while ill. It’s okay to ask for help. Already folks have been so supportive and I’ve had some great conversations and made connections with people who have been through or are going through it too. I’m talking about all this in candid, frank terms, trying not to flinch every time I say, ‘my ex.’ Just like when I once started saying, ‘my husband’ took a lot of practice, so will this.
This blog, for those of you, who were looking to get the dirt, is not about that. I have no interest in bashing him. Of giving anyone the play-by-play. As those who have been in long-term relationships before, you know that it’s not always some major event that puts a wedge between people, but so many little nicks built up over time—small piranha bites that bleed you weak as opposed to major dismemberment by shark jaws.
I am not interested in disrespecting him in that way of exploring everything that went wrong. I am interested, however, in being upfront and honest with my community, physical and virtual, about the radical change in my life, which is bound to come out in poems or some other artistic venue anyway.
So, where does that leave us? He and I still talk, as we are involved in projects together. I am intensely proud of him with his recent album release and the work I contributed to it. Those of you who know us can rest assured it won’t be weird, at least on my end, if you bring it up. I won’t pretend to speak for his experience with how he processes things. But, you don’t have to choose sides. We’re both good at still being friends with our mutual friends. I do welcome your experiences and the parts of your narrative that apply here, if you feel like sharing them with me. I don’t know that I’m interested in hearing “It’s going to be okay,” from anyone, because honestly, it’s like putting a band-aid over a bullet wound. If it’s going to be okay, I’ll find out. Right now it’s far from that, but I appreciate the sentiment behind what you’re saying.
Moving forward, I just hope to keep making good art. To finish my degree. To serve my community. To be a good friend, daughter, and sister. Those are my goals. I want to work on my spiritual practices. My work ethic. To learn how to be more patient. Like everyone, I want to be happy. Like everyone, I want to fly.
I want to thank you for reading through this…for being patient if, in advance, some days I’m not in the most congenial of moods, or if I don’t respond right away to your messages. It’s not you—it’s me probably trying to work through what I’m working through. But I want you to know I appreciate any good will you care to spare at the moment. Even if it’s unspoken.
Ultimately, I feel very grateful for every experience in my life, highs and lows. As Kahlil Gibran said (who I continue to return to whenever I feel out-paced by one of life’s tidal waves), “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?”
Love and light.