Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How long?

"So how long does it take, this process?" asks my gruff, but good-guy Scottish boss. It is a question that has been asked of me about 300 or so times since my marriage fell apart last spring. It's funny how being in the process of getting a divorce is supposed to make you some kind of expert on the subject. Funnier yet, is how many women come to me for advice when they are having trouble in their marriage. I rarely say it but I can't help but think, "Um, you are the one that still has her husband in her bed, why are you asking me?" But I don't. I guess they think that misery loves company. Or maybe, they've noticed I'm not that miserable, and they are intrigued by that...I don't know. But I get questions all the time about how much lawyers charge, how often you have to go to court, etc. And the truth be told, I'm almost done and I still don't really know. I've gone through it all, but it has really been a blur of bad timing and strange innuendo. And even if I could make sense of it, it doesn't seem possible that what I've been through has been a normal process. Nothing about this is normal.

But I do think I've come up with an answer, or maybe more appropriately several answers, to this "How long?" question. Since the decree should be going before a judge very soon, I thought I'd take a moment to write it down. How long does it take to get a divorce? Well, this is just my experience, but:

  • from the 11:30 p.m. revelation from your husband that he loves you too, "I guess" to signing your final decree of divorce, it takes 50 weeks, five days, and eleven hours
  • it also takes seven years of trying and not really knowing why nothing seems to work
  • it takes .5 seconds to say "Yes." instead of "Can we make this decision after the baby is born?"
  • it takes 30 + years of carrying your self esteem around at the bottom of your purse, and pulling it out, in shock that it is tangled up in teeny tiny knots that you will need tweezers to work out
  • it takes twenty-three hour long visits to your own therapist, countless hours with your children's therapists, and monthly visits to the pharmaceutical counter at Walgreen’s
  • it takes many sleepless nights, staring out the window, with rocks in your stomach
  • it takes as many hours of free long distance as you can rack up - and several hours that aren't free
  • it takes hundreds of hours of dealing with the angst and anger of your children, answering questions to which you don't really know the answers
  • it takes five hours to take a parenting course that teaches you not to call your ex bad names in front of the kids
  • it takes too many billable hours with the cheapest lawyer you could find
  • it takes 37 years to start it, I haven't quite figured out how many it will take to tie it up
I always used to get a bad taste in my mouth when I heard stories of women who party it up right when their divorces were finalized. But I understand now, it isn't celebrating an end, it is celebrating a commencement. I will officially move into a new phase of my life this week. It is my pinning ceremony, the turning of a tassel, the signature on my diploma. I've passed this test. Now I get to take on some new life. Somebody, please, buy me a drink already.

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