Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Big Split, Part I

When I heard the news that my mom and step-dad were separating, the worst thing was the shock. It was so sudden! One day we were all sitting down to a warm, friendly dinner together, and only a few days later I heard that he was jetting off to Arizona to take a holiday with his mistress.

However, the actual process of their separation is going to be very slow. This is going to be a long, drawn-out process with legal and financial complexities, paperwork, arguments, and confusion. Just getting him moved out of the house is going to be a painful and involved process of packing and discussions.

Thinking about it like that, and knowing how hard it's going to be on my mom, makes me wish that it were possible to get it all over with in one big shock, like ripping off a band-aid.

I was married for five years the first time around. The logistics of dividing our lives was daunting when we went our separate ways. Splitting up our CD collection and photo albums added fuel to flaring arguments.

To simplify things, and because I wanted to start a new life, I barely took anything beyond my clothes and books. I packed up enough kitchen basics to get me started, and I took the toaster oven, because he barely used it and I make toast every morning. He let me take the old TV without an argument because he was looking for an excuse to buy a flatscreen, but he did put up a fight for the toaster oven. Go figure...

Of course the toughest joint possession to deal with was the house. We had bought a house jointly with his mother only a year before we split up.

Everyone say it together now: BAD IDEA!

Even though the house was divided into two separate apartments, that much proximity to my mother-in-law was one of the final nails in the coffin. Not that she's a bad person, by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that his relationship with her was so clearly much more valuable to him than his relationship with me. He barely ever did a lick of housework in the five years we lived together, despite my complaints, but he would run to her beck and call for any task she wanted done. It was too much.

In the end, dividing our material possessions turned out to be infinitely easier than dividing our identities. We had started dating in tenth grade and had been together ever since. We had essentially grown up together, and I had considered him my best friend for many of those years.

I once heard it said that trying to extract oneself from a long-term relationship is like trying to separate two eggs that have been scrambled together. And that is exactly how I felt. I was a scrambled egg, and I couldn't tell which pieces belonged to me and which to him.

To be continued...


Warped Mind of Ron said...

I agree that the quicker is easier, but like you said in long term things nothing is quick or easy. I'm not the best one to ask about relationships, but it seems better to end things than to keep them going for no real reason. Best of luck to you and your mom.

jameil1922 said...

oh man i'm once again so glad my long term relationship ended BEFORE marriage. its ridiculously hard to unentwine yourself when you consider that person your best friend. i still want to call him almost everyday. how long has it been since your divorce?

Maxie said...

this is still how I feel. and it's been 2 years. ugh.

R.E.H. said...

I can only imagine how painfull the process of a divorce must be.

The dividing of stuff (and so much of it would've been acquired together, right), the loss of something that one has become accustomed to (even if it was a long time since it was appreciated).

Maybe being single isn't so bad, after all? ;)

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Yeah, my theory is that just because a relationship ends doesn't mean it's a failure. It just means it was finite. Some failed relationships refuse to die, and those are also very painful.

Jameil: I moved out in July 2001. The divorce wasn't finalized until November of 2003, and it was May 2004 before my legal name change was finalized. For the longest time I thought about him constantly and then dreamed about him at night. It was compulsive. It took many years to get past that.

Maxie: Aw geez. So you know how it is. Too bad there isn't any set expiry date for those feelings. It would be more bearable if at least you could count down the days until you felt differently. :-(

Sparkling Red said...

R.E.H.: I had no idea how brutal the experience of a divorce could be until I went through mine. And relatively speaking, mine was easy! No kids, and for the most part we were able to agree on stuff with a minimum of verbal jousting.

Staying single sounds like a VERY attractive option when you're in the middle of a divorce.

Thomas said...

I am a lawyer so I have heard the maxim that family law is the hardest part of the life precisely because it is impossible to say, "This is yours and this is mine," without people getting bent out of shape.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

ugh, parents splitting up is bad. my parents are on year two of their divorce. i wish they would just get it over with. quick is way better.

Karen said...

That is how I felt when I broke up with my ex. We weren't married, but we were best friends and dating for over 10 years. I had to learn who I was without him. That was really, really hard.

Jenski said...

Oiy. As if people really need the frustration and pain of dividing their stuff up on top of everything.

Sparkling Red said...

Thomas: Truly. There is no perforation running neatly down the middle of a shared life. There are so many things you can't split in half, so then you fight.

Tequila Mockingbird: So you're living through it too. It sure sucks, doesn't it. :-p

Karen: When you spend that long with someone, there's no part of your life that doesn't feel like something's missing once they're gone. It's completely pervasive.

Jenski: And then the stuff becomes symbolic of their emotional battles and no one wants to give in. Some couples end up losing it all to the lawyers. By the time they figure out who's getting what, there's almost nothing left. It's nuts.

Bee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bee said...

When I got divorced I felt as you did - take the bare minimum and and have it over and done with.
The ex was kind of anal about dividing everything in half which was pretty funny seeing as he had to return to England after the split. Who would really want to take half a cutlery set on the plane?!

mex (aka Syb) said...

MY GF has a divorce (being official) coming right up next month

Feb 29

That's Leap Year

She remarked, 'At least I won't have to think (mourn?) the official date but once every 4 years.'

GOOD MOVE ! (punny?)



PS.. forget how i found yr blog (likely a comment from a blog i read regulary).. and there are only a handful of those.. less than a haandful.. maybe "alex-happily ever now" ?????

anyhoo, I added you to that teeny weeny Must Read Daily list and have enjoyed 2 things already

1. yr way w/ words
2. that you update a lot

Sparkling Red said...

Bee: For real! The stuff becomes a focus for all the emotions that are otherwise very confusing and hard to pin down.
I'm picturing your ex putting his carry-on through the x-ray machine, and the security guards puzzling over why he's got spoons, forks, and butterknives for six in his luggage.

mex (aka Syb): Yes, that is a good thing for your friend. I wish I'd gotten married on Feb 29th! That anniversary still gets to me.
Thanks for your kind words! I'm glad to know that you're here each day to see what's up. Gives me the warm'n'fuzzies.

Aurora said...

I think it's so important and brave that you write about this. It's hard to put it on paper, I imagine. (I can only imagine--I haven't been through a separation that deep or protracted.)