When It Really Starts Sinking In

Boiling FrogLast night, I found myself watching and at the same time not really watching TV as I sipped my way through a bottle of my favorite cheap red wine. As a result, I found myself heading to bed around midnight, not drunk but certainly relaxed enough to fall asleep fairly quickly. However, as I fell asleep, I had a bunch of disconnected thoughts and memories floating in my head — some of those memories going back decades — which inevitably made their way into my dreams in a virtual hot mess.

One of those thoughts went along the lines of, “My ‘divorced’ marital status feels more real to me than my ‘married’ status ever felt.”

I was trying to figure out, as I was falling asleep, why that’s the case. I came up with two plausible explanations:

  1. the way I felt like I was in some kind of fog throughout most (if not all) of my marriage, and
  2. the comments I received from those who’ve read through what I’ve dubbed my 1,763-day weekend.

I’ve sufficiently described Point 1, so it’s Point 2 that interests me right now.

I believe there are two crucial premises — or two attempted cause-effect explanations — in “The 1,763-Day Weekend”: my tendency to rescue (to put it mildly) and the supposition that NowEx has BPD. My blow-by-blow description of events was my attempt to support that supposition, and it would seem many who read the series either implicitly or explicitly agreed with my theory. However, while I still hold onto that explanation, I can’t help wonder if I constructed it because it was more palatable than simply dismissing NowEx as a selfish, immature and rather evil asshole — or as one friend put it more simply and more bluntly, “that freak” — as that might imply that I was doubly in the wrong by virtue of being a poor reader of character.

That caveat aside, I wish to share some of the comments I’ve received, and don’t worry: I won’t attribute any of the comments in order to protect the innocent. 🙂

The Impossible Heaviness of Being [With]
One of the first comments came from a friend who confided having a good friend who ended up divorcing due to the spouse turning out to be very mentally ill. There was no sign of this illness until a very short time after the marriage. At the time, my friend, holding onto the “sickness and in health” vow, didn’t view kindly the divorce decision, but in the end my friend’s friend went through with it and has since happily remarried. But my friend further confided that reading my story, with all its excrutiating details, led her to rethink the position she had taken back then. Then, almost immediately after I read this friend’s musings, another friend expressed her belief that perhaps the most impossible type of relationship to maintain is one with someone with BPD that isn’t being treated. Those comments not only reinforced in my mind that divorce was the right decision but also banished forever any vestige of remorse onto which I still may have been holding.

The Frog in Boiling Water
Another friend who recently has had to deal with someone who is almost certifiably a BPD case proffered a concept that captured my imagination to explain why I stuck it out for as long as I did (even though it wasn’t really that long considering that the estrangement period was longer than the courtship and marriage combined). The concept is that if one were to drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it would jump out to save its life; however, if one were to drop a frog in tepid water and very gradually bring the water to a boil, it wouldn’t notice and would allow itself to be cooked to death.

Oh. My. Gawd… Yes, it was so like that! I felt the water getting warmer but thought I could endure it. But when the water reached the boiling point, this frog jumped out and it was the marriage that ended up getting cooked to death.

A Page Turner?
Several friends admitted that they either don’t read much or only read my (long-winded) blog postings diagonally. However, all my friends who commented back to me prefaced their remarks with a variation of “I read ALL the parts of your blog and…”

That certainly made me chuckle, but it also meant a lot to me. Many had already heard some of the stories, but not all of them and certainly not all at once. Many admitted that they initially thought “oh my gawd” when they saw that the narrative was 15 webpages long, but they told me that, aside from caring about what I had to say, they just got sucked into the narrative itself. Everybody who knows me knows how writing is important to me, so while I recognize that my writing is not of the calibre that would allow me to write a novel, I do enjoy the feeling (or delusion?) that my writing can occasionally be good enough to draw readers in.

Everybody got how the exercise was cathartic for me. Everybody who already knew some of the stories has said something along the lines of “I knew it was bad but I didn’t know it was that bad!” One friend who hadn’t known any of the stories even went so far as to admit never having wanted so much to get in a car to drive the long distance to Montréal for the sole purpose of giving someone a hug. And yet another friend said that, as he was reading, he would think to himself that he never thought I was the kind of guy who would “put up with so much shit” …until he remembered what I was allowing to go on in my life when we met more than 15 years ago. (Yeah, another rescue operation that didn’t end well…)

What Would He Think?
I mentioned at the beginning of this entry that all these thoughts “made their way into my dreams in a virtual hot mess.” I suppose the reason for that is that probably the very last thought I had before falling asleep is that NowEx did not respond to the e-mail I sent him a few days after I got the letter confirming that the divorce had gone through. Although I figured he wouldn’t since he hadn’t acknowledged my lawyer’s letter advising him I had (finally) filed for divorce, I suppose I was hoping for at least a “fuck you” or “good riddance” kind of response from him.

Why? Maybe it’s because I believe and resent that he has occupied so much space in my head for as long as he has while he has probably succeeded long ago in making me persona non grata not worth even a cursory thought. Or maybe it’s because there’s a part of me who still fears him and how he’d react upon reading my diagnosis of him.

So my dreams last night brought me to a place that posed as Mexico City but that wasn’t the real Mexico City. It felt like I was only passing through, recognizing certain landmarks, and simultaneously hoping that I would and wouldn’t bump into him. Eventually, someone I supposedly knew, though he didn’t look like anybody I ever met, got the word to NowEx that I was in town and *poof*! There he was, right in front of me, wearing that ridiculous (woman’s) winter coat I bought him in Halifax. But when he removed the hood from his head, letting his long hair tumble out, it was not his face but that of a woman — a friend I lost touch with since 1999 when she jumped the fence from “dykedom” to “straightdom.”

Like I said: these dreams were a virtual hot mess.

Maybe I should just reconsider my liking of that cheap red wine…

On the other hand, there are five fingers.
It’s become a platitude to hear that divorce (or the circumstances leading to divorce) can be traumatic, and that might explain why I still have some stuff to purge despite already spilling so much virtual ink on this topic. But I suppose it’s only now that it’s all really starting to sink in: that I am divorced; that I am grasping what is probably the most important lesson of my life; that I have an uncanny capacity to put up with a lot of shit but that I probably won’t put up with as much for the remainder of my life.

As it really starts sinking in, I find that what’s on the other side is territory that’s unfamiliar to me. It’s not scary; it’s simply unfamiliar. In the past, I either remained friends with my ex or held no animosity. But for the first time in my life I do hold some animosity, and I worry that I won’t be able to totally let go until I let go of that, too.

Or maybe that’ll come when it will have all sunk in rather than just start sinking in…