The divorce dilemma (1 Cor. 7: 10-16)




ИмеThe divorce dilemma (1 Cor. 7: 10-16)
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Дата на преобразуване19.12.2012
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One thing is certain: a divorce does not begin when one person looks at another and says, "I want to put an end to this." It starts long before, when the hurt begins, when you come to the astonishing realization that you are lonely even though you are married. Divorce is the process of institutionalizing that loneliness, of building a grotesque structure out of nightmare and anger and guilt.


As my marriage broke up, everything broke up in a process of psychological deterioration. I still hate the silhouette of a local hotel simply because it was being built as I was falling apart. For an entire year I did nothing but talk about the divorce and seek out other people who had made the promenade through the volcano. The nights were filled with our tales of extraordinary destruction and anger. One woman had taken her wedding pictures and cut them into fragments. We were all survivors of the worst times of our lives.


Each divorce has its own metaphors that grow out of the dying marriage. One man was inordinately proud of his aquarium. He left his wife two weeks after the birth of their son. What visitors noticed next was that she was not taking care of the aquarium. The fish began dying. The two endings became linking in my mind.


For a long time I could not discover my own metaphor of loss - until the death of our dog, Beau, became the irrefutable message that Barbara and I were finished.


Beau was a feisty, crotchety dachshund Barbara had owned when we married. It took a year of pained toleration for us to form our alliance. But Beau had one of those illuminating inner lives that only lovers of dogs can understand. He has a genius for companionship. To be licked by Beau when you awoke in the morning was a fine thing.


On one of the first days of our separation, when I went to the house to get some clothes, my youngest daughter, Megan, ran out to tell me that Beau had been hit by a car and taken to the animal clinic. I raced there and found Ruth Tyree, Beau's veterinarian. She carried Beau in to see me and laid him on the examining table.


I had not cried during the terrible breaking away from Barbara. I had told her I was angry at my inability to cry. Now I came apart completely. It was not weeping, it was screaming, it was despair.


The car had crushed Beau's spine, the X-ray showing irreparable damage. Beau looked up at me while Dr. Tyree handed me a piece of paper, saying that she needed my signature to put Beau to sleep.


I could not write my name because I could not see the paper. I leaned against the examining table and cried as I had never cried in my life, crying not just for Beau but for Barbara, the children, myself, for the death of marriage, for inconsolable loss. Dr. Tyree touched me gently, and I heard her crying above me. And Beau, in the last grand gesture of his life, dragged himself to the length of the table on his two good legs and began licking the tears as they ran down my face.


I had lost my dog and found my metaphor. In the X-ray of my dog's crushed spine, I was looking at a portrait of my broken marriage.


But there are no metaphors powerful enough to describe the moment when you tell the children about the divorce. Divorces without children are minor-league divorces. To look into the eyes of your children and to tell them you are mutilating their family and changing all their tomorrows is an act of desperate courage that I never want to repeat. It is also their parent's last act of solidarity and the absolute sign that the marriage is over. It felt as though I had doused my entire family with gasoline and struck a match.


The three girls entered the room and would not look at me or Barbara. Their faces, all dark wings and grief and human hurt, told me that they already knew. My betrayal of these young, sweet girls filled the room.


They wrote me notes of farewell, since it was I who was moving out. When I read them, I did not see how I could ever survive such excruciating pain. The notes said, "I love you, Daddy. I will visit you." For months I would dream of visiting my three daughters locked in a mental hospital. The fear of damaged children was my most crippling obsession.


For a year I walked around feeling as if I had undergone a lobotomy. There were records I could not listen to because of their association with Barbara, poems I could not read from books I could not pick up. There is a restaurant I will never return to because it was the scene of an angry argument between us. It was a year when memory was an acid.


I began to develop the odd habits of the very lonely. I turned the stereo on as soon as I entered my apartment. I drank to the point of not caring. I cooked elaborate meals for myself, then could not eat them.


I worried about the men Barbara would date. I knew I had no right to worry and worried even more. I was afraid she would date men who would be cruel to her, who would be unworthy of her, who would ignore the kids. I had left Barbara, and I still had a primitive need to possess her. I wanted her to forget me; I wanted her to miss me.


I had entered into the dark country of divorce, and for a year I was one of its ruined citizens. I suffered. I survived. I studied myself on the edge, and introduced myself to the stranger who lived within. It was at once most painful and valuable year I had ever spent. This is the one gift of the dark country.


I found I had been locked in the dilemma of many American males, raised not to give or receive affection, not to weep when I was hurting, not to love women in ways that made them feel secure and desirable and needed. I felt inexpressible reserves of love within me, and I searched for women who understood about the inarticulate lover screaming from within.


Barbara and I had one success in our divorce, and it is an extraordinary rare one. As the residue of anger and hurt subsided with time, we remained friends. We saw each other for drinks or lunch occasionally, and I met her boyfriend, Tom.


Once, when I was leaving a party, I looked back and saw Barbara and Tom holding hands. They looked very happy together, and it was painful to recognize it. I wanted to go back and say something to Tom, but I mostly wanted to say it to Barbara. I wanted to say that I admired Tom's taste in women.


- Condensed from ATLANTA MAGAZINE


Divorce is devestating for everyone involved

Life is never the same after a divorce


Most will tell you that a divorce is much more difficult to go through

than the death of their mate


Choosing divorce is like choosing to get cancer

No sane person would ever choose cancer


Why would anyone ever choose divorce?
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