D Day

A year ago today, after 35 years of marriage, I filed for divorce.wedding-cake

That same day I also took a class in flying trapeze, figuring that jumping off of a board three stories in the air was a pretty good metaphor.  I was right. It was a great metaphor.

It was terrifying. I did it. I’m glad, proud that I did it. And I don’t ever intend to do it again.

“Are you divorced yet?” people keep asking. I ask myself sometimes.

Nope. Close, though, I think.

Many things have changed in the last year.

The biggest one: I’m happy. I could not have imagined that was possible. The day after I filed, I went to yoga. But I was emotionally overwhelmed, and that quiet in the yoga studio? It’s dangerous, because you can think. I started to cry, and so, embarrassed, assembled my stuff to leave.

“No, stay.” Suzy whispered to me. “Rest in child’s pose the whole class if you want, but better for you to stay.” And I did stay, mostly in child’s pose, my back heaving with sobs much of the time. Suzy would walk by and just put her hand on my back every so often.

wedding-cakeAgain, that occasional hand on my back, a metaphor for all the caring friends and help I got, even when I didn’t realize it.

For weeks I didn’t tell anyone even about the separation. If I didn’t tell, it wouldn’t be real. Logical, right?

And then I told three dear friends. Only three. And they would walk by every so often and place a caring hand on my back. Sometimes to comfort me, other times to hold me up, or pick me up. I found out only much later that the three of them talked to each other, and only to each other. “I’ll make sure she eats something.” “I’ll take her to a movie.” “I’ll get her to go for a walk.”

As I got a little more comfortable with myself I told more people, and poof there was the full-fledged Karen Sanity Committee. Truly, t-shirts are available for sale at the store here. You can be a member, or have your own sanity committee. Everyone needs a Sanity Committee.

There were weeks, months, when I’d be walking the dogs or driving and I’d think: Who can I call that I haven’t cried to…lately.  If you are one of those people, or have been on that end of phone for anyone, thank you.

I always knew I had great friends, but going through something like this, you get to experience friendship in a whole different way. The giving end of things was generally most comfortable for me, but it was all receiving all the time for a very long time around here.

One evening I was talking to Margaret on the phone, I’d thought I was fine and then wedding-cakesuddenly I wasn’t. “Why don’t I come over,” Margaret said. No telling what she had planned for that evening but she came over and held my hand for 90 minutes. Just recently I called Margaret early-ish…we’re that kind of friend…her husband answered. “Just a second,” said Mike. “I’ll get her.” And when Margaret came to the phone her voice was groggy with sleep. I was super embarrassed. Later, I asked why he hadn’t just told me she was sleeping. “I thought it might’ve been urgent.”

Things are less urgent now. I feel sad and protective and sorry for that poor woman in child’s pose in the yoga studio, but I’m not her. I’m so much more solid in myself. It’s happened slowly, and with work, and occasionally the feeling of contentment would even catch me by surprise. Last fall I had a dinner party for the Sanity Committee—they deserve capital letters and proper name status—and was just amazed at what a good time I had. I’d never given a party by myself. And the thought just washed over me, I’m happier alone now. Not. I’ll be happy sometime in the misty future, BUT I’m happy NOW. I didn’t expect to have that feeling every moment, but I knew that claiming that feeling, even for a few hours, was huge.

And as many many things have changed for me, some things haven’t changed. My in-laws are still my in-laws for example. They have loved me for 40 years, and I visit and call them just as often. They are old and sick. I’m not responsible for their care, but I do care.

wedding-cakeI’m still struggling with my grammar. It’s been hard to stop referring to “our house”. I actually practiced to myself, “my house”, “my house”, “my house”. I haven’t made any huge life changes. I still live in MY HOUSE. And walk MY DOG and check in regularly with MY wonderful daughters, who are of course, our daughters. At the time I’d expect my husband to come home from work I still occasionally get this feeling, that someone should be coming home soon. And that word “husband”, still trying to get rid of that too, and usher in “ex-husband.”

When I was moving toward divorce, of course I had to find a lawyer. I got references and made appointments.

What does one wear to interview a divorce lawyer?

I had to think about that one. Part of my plan to feel better, included doing my best to look good. No botox. No plastic surgery. Not even make-up. But I’ve tried to pay attention, to not schlump around in yoga clothes, but to dress in flattering clothes, that match, with a bit of flair and style. With a sense of fun that expresses the real me.

To see the first lawyer I wore a nice grey cashmere sweater, leggings, boots, and a swingy black satin Michael Kors jacket that’s stylish and hip. I say that with confidence because Jessamyn gave it to me and everything in her orbit is stylish and hip. I finished off the outfit with good earrings and my favorite fun necklace, a long chain with a white pear, a splash of white on the gray.

I braved 405 traffic up to a big Century-City office building, with all the pomp lawyer’s offices muster up in order to charge what they charge. And I got through security and up the elevator and in due course ushered into the sanctum.


The woman had super recommendations and had all the trappings, but I could tell that something discomfited her. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Well….The paperwork says you’ve been married 35 years. And I was expecting…” now she was embarrassed, but in too deep to stop. “…..I was expecting you to be old.

“But you’re not old. You’re young.”

It gave me a big laugh. I didn’t feel young.

But now I do.

About Karen Ray

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This entry was posted in Current Events, Family, Friends, Law, Life Experiences, Marriage, Motherhood, Yoga and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to D Day

  1. Eliyahu says:

    As to “ex-husband”, a friend and therapist suggested to me that “former husband” is a more appropriate term which honors you and what was.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. I have primarily heard ‘former husband’ used in cases where there is also a ‘current husband’. Much to learn, obviously, even in language usage.

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