writing (and not writing) about divorce

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i just finished up an interview for the fabulous sage cohen and her new-ish project: radical divorce. sage is an amazing woman and fellow writer, and our paths cross and cross and cross, which makes me feel happy and blessed.

as you know, my blog here is a mix of actual poetry, writing about writing and blogging about the renewal of life after the zombie apocalypse (divorce). i really wanted my answers to sage’s questions to capture a snapshot of the big picture of my own “radical divorce” as i see it today, and so i answered without going back to read anything i’d already written on the subject. but now, i find myself curious: what contradictions are there? what’s changed? what did i say when i was feeling zen about it? what did i share when i was out of my skull with anger?

and so i’ve been visiting old posts today and finding some interesting bits, otherwise known as “holy ups and downs, batman!”:

  • starting over (again): “in my old life, everything seemed predictable. and now nothing does. and what a relief. every step forward is a rabbit hole. every look backward is, too, come to think of it. there is only one thing actually in front of me: my kids. i’m responsible to nothing else but affection for them. sure, a lot goes into making a place for that — a job for rent, groceries and gas; the poetry/poetry community that keeps me going — but my place in the world has never been clearer to me” (may 2012).
  • the blonde asks, are you happy?: “it’s a fair but dangerous question. and i think the answer i gave her was that i was happier, which could really just be a way of saying that there are degrees of misery and i’m less miserable than i was. but it’s hardly a confident, assertive yes, i am happy” (may 2012).
  • outcome pending: “sometimes fear is all there is. fear that the new life is too fragile or somehow unsustainable. fear that dirty dishes, unfolded piles of laundry, a messy office and a ransacked closet mean the ex is right: households suffer under my watch. i find myself joking, is it any wonder i can’t keep a husband?” (june 2012).
  • with apologies to the dalai lama: “[my ex] found comfort from a new source. i’d left him in an unenviable, prickly place. how could i blame him for reaching for anything he found that made sense to him? well, i did. i’m not proud of it, but over the last 10 months, i’ve been known to say, fuck the dalai lama” (july 2012).
  • no guts, no glory: “i’ve had no doubts that my decision to leave was right for me and right for my boys. but despite that, it’s been difficult. along side the struggles, there have been many beautiful moments, as well, of course. i have greeted them quietly. i have accepted them and made note of them. i have taken some of them to bed” (july 2012).
  • on losing light, believing in poetry mojo and giving the finger to hecklers: “if you think divorce is easy or simple for a woman (or anyone) to do just because it’s the 21st century, think again. if you think people try to understand or give people the benefit of the doubt, you’re wrong” (september 2012).
  • recognizing the climb out of the gorge: what if getting ourselves to the divorce part, wasn’t the hard part (even though it was difficult)? what if the actual hard part is now? it seems so clear to me now: divorce isn’t the top of the hill” (november 2012).
  • old voices hold us back: “so much of what holds us back is our own mind (and old voices) saying, you can’t. it takes more than time to replace them. it takes actual effort. it takes building a solid case to the contrary. and contrary? that’s one thing i’ve always been good at” (june 2013).
  • on trusting your gut: “it was terribly confusing all those years. it was training for not trusting words: i love you. and it was training in paying close attention to my gut. it took me a long time to recognize that it was right about my marriage. now, i don’t waste much time questioning it” (june 2013).
  • this may be the worst (divorce) advice ever (july 2013)
  • spelling poetry without d-i-v-o-r-c-e: “i’m pretty much over the i’m-going-through-a-divorce storyline entirely. i’m ready to shed it. to skinny dip my way through my life. to dive into my relationship not as antidote but as its own Very Good Love” (october 2013).

up and down. the pendulum swings and it swings back. i write about divorce. i don’t write about divorce. i think where i am now is that i just don’t lead with it… unless sage asks me to LOL.

sage’s “radical divorce” project (she has a blog for it and offers classes) represents a great possibility to me, one i’ve experienced myself. that for all the lip service we give to loss as a means of transformation… there’s truth in it. it’s not just something we say to make ourselves feel better.

about her own ex and “radical divorce” sage writes,

are things between us unfair, even now? sometimes. did events transpire that were so painful that it was hard to imagine surviving them? sure did. so why isn’t this a blog about how hurt i am, how wronged i’ve been? because that’s not the stand i take for love and family, healing and transformation. i honor heartbreak by striving to learn from it. i hold my hands open to the absence, the opportunity.

i believe that we are shaped not by what happens to us in life but by the stories we tell about those experiences. story, then, is the scaffolding on which we construct our lives—and even our selves.

our hearts are more flexible and our identities more fluid than we may realize. this is why i write. to reach beyond who i thought i could be. to keep my heart and eyes and arms open. to declare all of us welcome to the feast of our lives—especially when we are at our most hopeless and helpless.

let’s do divorce with all the clarity, integrity and ferocity we can muster. then get on with our incredible lives.

amen, sister. and thank you for asking me to participate.

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