I learned last week from Peachhead that a woman in my mommy group is going through a divorce and custody battle over her one and a half year old daughter. They were in my first mommy group that used to meet at one of our houses for snacks and champagne when the babies were about four to eight months old. The group fell apart last summer, when vacations and work got in the way, but we continue to see each other every month or so for moms’ night out and, of course, birthday parties.
I had no idea my friend’s marriage was breaking up and was devastated by the news. I started thinking about all the levels on which a divorce affects your life: Living—sleeping, making life decisions, keeping a house, eating meals, going on vacation, etc—without the person who’s been your partner for however many years. Getting by financially without his income. Dating, wondering if you’ll end up alone, that whole nightmare you thought ended the day you said “I do.” The innumerable challenges of raising a child alone. The potential problems that child will face living between divorced parents. Negotiating relationships with former in-laws and mutual friends.
The head swims, and I am heartbroken for her. This woman was told by a fertility doctor (my fertility doctor) that she could not conceive and should look into surrogacy, then with the help of acupuncture went on to have a child naturally—her miracle baby! And now this. I sent her an email telling her how sad I was for her. She wrote back to see if we wanted to hang out and wrote a longer email to the whole group. She said she can’t believe this is the man she married and had her daughter with, she said he locked her out of the house and she had to call the cops, she said she cries everyday.
I feel empathy for my friend and her daughter whom I’ve known since she was an even littler bit than she is now. But I’m also scared shitless. If this happened to them, couldn’t it happen to us? We don’t want it to happen, we don’t think it will happen, but it could, right? Under normal circumstances it could happen. And how about in the face of an upcoming cross-country move to a town where we know no one for a job that he’s psyched about that I’m dreading and that’s forcing me to leave behind my family, friends, house and hometown. I can feel the resentment beginning to simmer and we haven’t even packed yet. Who am I kidding? At times it’s already boiling over onto the filthy stovetop.
Last night we had a raging fight that began because my husband told me we should be watching our money, referring to the fact that we had gone out to brunch and dinner in the same day. I lost it, partially because I think financial anxiety perpetuates itself and I’d rather go around thinking we’re doing fine (which we are). The other reason I went from zero to ninety in about three seconds flat is because he just got off a job and he’s about to start another one for which we’re moving to Boston. If we still can’t afford to go out for dinner, why the hell am I sacrificing everything I care about besides my husband and son? Isn’t it for financial stability?
Anyway, the details of the fight that raged on until I couldn’t do it anymore and started ignoring him until he sulked off to bed aren’t that important. What is important is that we’re embarking on a journey that could substantially change our relationship. It could bring us closer, since we’ll be alone in a town without friends and families. It might feel like us against the world, which might be wonderful. But it could also lead to his feeling great and my feeling lonely and resentful. I tell Harlan I really hope I’m happy there. Just because we’ve acknowledged that problems could emerge doesn’t mean they won’t.
Like I said, we don’t want to get divorced, but nobody does really. Problems snowball until they’re bigger than the good stuff and suddenly you don’t love each other anymore. Maybe you don’t like each other either, and then what’s the point? On top of all this, I have this crazy dry, itchy skin thing happening around my wedding ring. It’s so uncomfortable I’ve stopped wearing it and am constantly putting on neosporin or aquafor until it goes away, which I hope is soon ’cause I feel naked. I hope it’s not a sign.
I love my husband. I want to get that warm, fuzzy feeling watching him make oatmeal and brush his teeth when he’s gone wrinkled and gray. I want to stand beaming at his side when my son kisses his own bride. But I also want to punch him sometimes. And we’re about to embark on what might be the riskiest trip of our lives.