And just like that, tomorrow I’ll be divorced. It’s amazing how fast the process is to close the book on a 13-year relationship. The papers will be signed tomorrow morning, the negotiations are complete, and our marriage will be officially dissolved. Although, as of tomorrow, we will no longer legally be married, I believe that our hearts will still need more time to accept that truth.
The ex came over this weekend to spend time with the pups and have breakfast. We spent some time talking and preparing to sign the papers. While there was no question this was the right thing to do; I couldn’t help but ask him if he felt the same. I don’t know what answer I was expecting, but he wasn’t able to verbalize anything. We just hugged the pups and nodded. Then my next question was, ‘Do I change my last name?’
I’ve been struggling with this. Professionally I’ve built up some clout as Jodie Riccelli. Changing my name when I got married five years ago was hard enough; having to do it now seems impossible. But what if the ex marries again someday? Would his new wife mind there was another that still has his name? What if I do change my name and then I get married again at some point, will I want to change it a fourth time? I liked having the same last name as my husband. It was important to me. For the record, he’s happy for me to keep the name, so I’m keeping it for now. (Although Jodie Fiorenza has a nice ring to it, no? That’s my mother’s maiden name. I always loved that last name.)
In case you are wondering, I’m doing really well. I promise. Although my writing sometimes seems melancholy, I feel it’s necessary to share the story as it happened, so inevitably, it begins with anger and sadness.
Pro-tip: During the amicable “splitting of the things,” I came up with a solution for the hard to look at stuff. I got a big bin, and if the ex and I came across something we weren’t ready to deal with yet, such as a letter or photo, we just put it in the bin. It was a perfect solution. When we were finished, I sealed up the bin and put it in storage. Someday I will be able to open it and sort through all that stuff, but I knew neither of us was ready yet, and probably wouldn’t be for a while. Inside that bid is a story of love, marriage, and hope. Who could part with that? It contains my wedding bouquet, holiday cards, and photos that are part of our history. Just because you come to the end of the road, doesn’t mean the journey didn’t exist.
I did have some fantasies however, about mimicking a scene I saw on the TV show “A Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” During the main character’s divorce party, her friends put her wedding dress on a mannequin, and everyone shot it up with paintballs. I hated my wedding dress, so this sounded like so much fun and quite cathartic. In fact, I hated my dress so much that two weeks before my wedding, I was determined to find a new one. I went to a few bridal boutiques in Philadelphia and tried on a ton of dresses. Then one night, after being fully zipped into a beautiful gown, I had a full-blown panic attack. I started sweating, felt dizzy, and I couldn’t breathe. I was so flustered and thought I was going to end up in the hospital. The attendants couldn’t get the dress off fast enough and ended up having to cut me out of it. It was traumatic, and I wanted to run away forever or die of embarrassment.
I resigned myself to the dress I had already selected, but desperately emailed an old friend who was a costume designer and asked if he could help fix it. He lovingly agreed. I met him at the theater where he worked days before my wedding. He pinned and snipped and got my dress to a much better place. Tom, I will forever be grateful to you for helping me. However, I have not ruled out the paintball idea yet.
The dress was a trigger for me, and also another sign that I didn’t listen to. Other than the dress, I was surprised to learn what actually triggered me. I could look at old wedding photos or read cards given to me by the ex and be reasonably ok, maybe because I was just putting it in the bin. It was the offhand comments, people telling me that everything happens for a reason, or not having a bottle of wine on hand that really set me off.
For example, I was watching a Christmas documentary about traditions from around the world. It was educational, and I was enjoying it until they got to the end. The last scene was a family sitting around the Christmas tree in the Swiss Alps. The narrator came on and said something like, “Around the world, Christmas day means family.” I broke into a million sobbing wet pieces thinking about how my Christmas day would be so different now. It was a documentary, not even a sappy Hallmark movie. Get it together, Jodie.
I understand that people don’t know what to say during a situation like this. I get it. I never knew what to say either. While I know people are trying to process the situation and just be kind, I wasn’t prepared to be triggered by unexpected comments. Also, I needed people to chime in, and appreciated every single moment people took to make sure I was ok.
These have been the top triggering statements thus far:
- Thank goodness you don’t have kids.
- All I hear when people say this is “you don’t have a family to worry about”. I never wanted children, but I can’t help but wonder if the reasons were skewed. By nature, I’m a caretaker, so it stands to reason that children would be a natural desire. However, in my life, there were so many people to take care of that children seemed like an impossible task. Was I just not brave enough?
- But you just bought the house.
- My dad used to say that you can sometimes tell people are having problems in their relationship because they make a big purchase or have a baby. He was right in this case. Was the house just a bandaid to an already troubled relationship?
- I’m not surprised.
- I don’t need to explain this one. I get it, but it hurts.
- Drink a lot of water, get rest, and eat well.
- I understand why this is helpful, but right now I want wine and cheese fries. That’s just how it is at the moment. I know its not healthy. Sometimes self care means cheese fries. My weight will go up and down. My skin will be glowing and then it won’t. I will sometimes look rested or I may look exhausted. It’s a process and won’t be solved by water, at least not right now.
Having said all of that, I need to hear from people. The support of family and friends has sustained me throughout this process. The ex has been agreeable and patient. The pups are learning to adjust. This week, I plan on getting out and meeting my friends for dinners, endless bottles of wine, and a lot of laughs. The new reality has set in, and starting tomorrow; I will be divorced. Get ready Philly.