I just read Jenn's blog about the movie 27 Dresses, and how it basically teaches all of the female audience members that they will not be truly happy until they are "the better half" of a happy couple. I was planning on writing my blog about a typical day for me in Otranto, but after reading that, I thought I should put a big damper on the "a woman's not happy without a man" topic and instead, I've decided to write about a much more light and happy subject--divorce. A woman's not always happy with a man...
In talking to my counselor and also from what I have learned in my classes, divorce is one of the hardest events that someone can go though, only second to the death of a spouse or child. I can't imagine ever having to go through either of those things, and my heart breaks for those that have had to live through it. But I do think there is the possibility for there to be a bit more peace in death, because your love for them is pure, your missing and hurting is true and clear, and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it. It was out of your control. With divorce it is different, it's messy and confusing--and hardest of all, it is a choice. It's either choosing to no longer be with the person you thought you were going to spend your life with, or that person choosing to no longer spend their life with you. Whatever side you wind up on, it's hard as hell. You know that the person that you were once closest to, is still walking on this earth, continuing on with his/her life, and you are no longer a major part of it. You are no longer part of it at all.
On December 3rd, I went to court by myself to finalize everything. Leslie was in Trinidad, so it was considered an uncontested divorce, and was scarily simple. We split everything on our own terms (we didn't have a ton of stuff, just our bank accounts, the condo, and what was in it), signed some papers, he waived his right to be there, and I went with my mom (because you have to have a witness). We got to the couthouse early, in hopes that we could get in and out of there, and ended up waiting for almost 2 hours. As we were waiting I watched the other soon-to-be-uncoupled couples interact--it was so bizarre. One couple, who looked to be about the same age as me, were also there without lawyers. She arrived first, looking at her watch and rolling her eyes. He showed up 20 minutes later and they sat next to each other and started reviewing their paperwork. The dynamic was such a odd mixture--the familiarity was obviously one of two people who were once very close, they sat so close that their legs were touching. Yet, at the same time the hostility between them was also very apparent. I kept thinking to myself, "Right now they are married. When they walk out of that room they no longer will be. Huh. And, right now I am married. When I walk out of that room I no longer will be." Even though I kept telling myself that, I could not wrap my brain around it...
I finally got called into the courtroom, where we had to wait some more, for another proceeding that involved lawyers and custody discussions. I happend to be sitting next to the husband before they got called up and I heard him lean over to his lawyer and say "I can't believe this is really happening. It's so surreal." I hadn't cried all morning, but that nearly did it to me. He was right. It is surreal. How does that happen to 2 people? How can you stand across the courtroom from the person you are married to as though they are a total stranger?
The judge then called my name--my married name. I went up and stood in front of him with my mom at my side. He asked some questions--I don't really remember what they were, but one stuck in my mind "You've cited irreconsilable differences, so this means you've done everything in your power and the marriage can no longer work?" "Yes." I gulped, as the tears formed in my eyes. I think he saw that I was on the verge of losing it, took pity, and signed the papers.
I walked out of the courtroom in a daze. We got in the car and I turned on my cell phone. There was a message from Leslie. It wasn't until that minute that I broke down. The man on that message was no longer my husband. He was just Leslie. I was just Maggie, and he was just Leslie. No longer "The Fitzpatrick's", "Mags and Les," no longer a "we" or an "us." Just Maggie. And just Leslie. Ugh.
I know that we did the right thing. And with time, that is becoming more and more clear. I'm ok with being "just Maggie"...and, like the girl in 27 dresses, I too feel happy when I am part of a couple. But, I am learning how to also feel happy in those times when I am not part of one. And oddly, as I figure that out, the happiness I've found within "coupledom" has been much more fulfilling.