One time in high school, I fainted coming out of the shower. I was a known fainter in my youth, especially in church. In fact, there was one Christmas morning while doing the readings at mass with my Grandmother, that I fell right over into the nativity scene. Our priest didn’t miss a beat, but my mother made a sprint down the center aisle to revive me. I mean literally, the priest didn’t even stop mass because I’m sure he was thinking, “There goes that Saueraker girl, fainting again.” It was so known that I often fainted, my Grandmother kept hard candies in the kneeler on the alter so I was always prepared when reading at mass.
I’m sure it seems funny to find out that I was such a good little Catholic girl. It’s true, I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten to 8th grade. I wore uniforms and knee socks. I received all my sacraments, lectured at mass, and often went to confession. Although that is not my reality today, I always loved the Catholic mass itself. There is a beautiful ritual about it that I was drawn to. I could probably still recite the mass backward and forward today.
Any way, back to the shower. I was stretching and heard something in my neck crack and out I went. I woke up in the hallway with a towel over me – modesty first ladies – and heard my mother on the phone. You should know something about my mother. She is brilliant. She was a nurse and then propelled that into being a high ranking college professor for Nursing and Nurse Aestheticians. Meaning, she was a medical expert. When I heard her on the phone, it took me a minute to realize who she was talking to. It was my father. They had been divorced for quite some time at this point. As I was I coming to, I just kept thinking, why would she call my dad? She knew what to do. We had been down this road 100 times. I usually came to and was just fine. I’ve told this story many times and always laughed about it with her.
Then this past weekend, Frankie was crying as I was driving him to agility class. Not normal crying, he was completely riled up and filled with anxiety. Then he did something he has never done before. He began to pee in the backseat. It wasn’t a little amount of pee, it was like a gallon and he didn’t even lift his leg. He straight-up anxiety peed all over the backseat of my new car.
Frustrated and exhausted, my reflex was to pick up the phone and call the ex. He didn’t answer so I sent a text and awaited his call back. When he did reach out, I told him the story and then stopped dead in my tracks. Why was I calling him? What did I think he could possibly do? Somehow miraculously siphon the liquid form my backseat? No. He couldn’t do anything. This was my problem and will be my problem going forward.
So I did the next logical thing. I yelled at him. Why am I now faced with all this responsibility? How is that fair? And then continued to shout 100 other things that didn’t really make sense but at the time felt like the bandaid I needed.
This reminded me of the fainting incident, and I instantly knew why my mother called my dad (or at least I think I do). It’s not because we expect the other person to do something. Hell, 9 out of 10 times we took care of everything anyway. We need someone to validate the chaos we are dealing with and who better than the person you instinctually blame for putting you in the chaos.
This is for another time, but the similarities between what my mother went through and what I am going through do not elude me. In many ways, I’m repeating her history. They say you marry your father and I believe there is some truth to this.
I need to reiterate that emotion supersedes all logic during (and a suspect after) a divorce when it comes to the other person. You are still connected to the other person in ways you can’t explain, and you want them to feel what you feel because it seems that one person gets left with more of the responsibility than the other. I don’t know if that is true for sure, but that is what it feels like. It doesn’t feel balanced and it certainly doesn’t feel fair.
But this is all an illusion. It’s part of the healing process. They say that you go through the five stages of grief during a divorce but that you bounce between them. It is not a linear path. Sadness, anger, blame, resentment; they are all part of the path to acceptance. I’m looking forward to acceptance but I imagine it is not a destination, just a transient feeling that will bring me ease when I need it most.
Lesson learned though, I can’t expect the ex to fix anything anymore, and I certainly can’t shift responsibility. If I was going to embrace this new life, then I needed to embrace the chaos that came with it because it is all part of the gift that is my “Act Two”.
When we got home yesterday, I did an interview with my friend and colleague Laura for her upcoming podcast, “There are no nice guys”. It is centered around divorce and dating. During the interview, I drank some wine and vented to her. I learned from her the challenges of dating after a divorce and more. Not to mention, I was just coming off the realization that all the responsibility is now mine. Mix that in with some wine and you can be assured you will be out of sorts and emo the rest of the evening.
After the interview, I grabbed Frankie and Arya and held them so close. This was my life now. The three of us sat on the sofa and watched stand up comedy the rest of the night. Laughing and snuggles were exactly what I needed. I realize now that it was the perfect Sunday night.