A moment in the sun

It didn't end with a whimper or a bang, but with a garage sale.

J joined my on Saturday to work the sale. It was definitely the busier of the two days, but there were down times where we could chat. I had set up our deck table and chairs in the driveway, and that became our de facto work desk/lounge area.

When folks weren't picking over the material waste of our last eight years, we talked about some of the trivial and important things going on in our lives. Though there was the specter of divorce behind each conversation (at least for me), an outside observer may not have noticed him sitting at the table. The sun warmed our faces and conversation, and I tried to stay in the moment as much as possible.

It had been a long time since we've been able to just sit and catch up on things. We haven't had much of anything approaching normal lately, and though we talked about things like car titles and selling the house, the afternoon was somehow pleasant.

As the sale drew to a close, I realized this was probably the last time I would see her in person under vaguely normal circumstances for some time. We have an appointment with her lawyer today to go over a settlement proposal, and she will be moving out of state this coming weekend. There will be conversations, faxes and e-mails as we deal with the details of bringing the marriage to a close, but no afternoons spent just being in the moment.

She gave me her new address and contact information. She doesn't want to cut off communication, but is leaving it to me to decide if staying in touch would make things easier or more difficult for me. We parted with a hug and some more of my tears. No profound words, just the end of an ordinary day being the end of something greater.

I have this vision of something like Scenes From an Italian Restaurant where we meet somewhere down the road. A time when she could be more forthcoming, a time where I wouldn't be so raw, a time to reflect, a time to share. Another moment in the sun.

A brief recap of 2009

J and I had been unhappy for a while. I don't know if unhappy is the right word. It was more like a numbness had taken hold of our hearts and our relationship. We just drifted through our days, missing any spark of passion for life and our marriage.

J had suggested we see a counselor in our second year of marriage. I resisted. Being the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' sort of person, I wanted to be able to work it out on our own. I also felt that we should be able to be open and honest with each other without someone else in the room taking notes. Not the first, and nowhere near the last mistake I would make.

J brought up counseling again last November. She had said a few things two weeks earlier that told me something was seriously wrong, so this time I said I would go to counseling with her. We started sometime in December, meeting once a week for a month. We met once together, then each individually, then once again as a couple. After the four sessions, we signed up for 12 more weeks meeting as a couple.

We started to get things out in the open, digging into both the trivial and emotionally charged subjects. As I have mentioned elsewhere, as difficult as some of the subjects were, it felt great to be finally get things out in the open. I felt closer to J than I had in a very long time. Though counseling felt productive, I had issues with the counselor, and I think at times she made it more difficult. I will be touching on my thoughts on therapy, and her specifically in the future.

As part of marriage counseling, we had to agree to see individual counselors to work on our own issues. I have always known that we had to be happy with ourselves individually in order to have a successful relationship. Of course knowing this isn't enough, I needed to be making progress on finding my own peace. It turns out I needed the outside help to begin to find my way.

As part of J working on her own issues, she felt she needed to have some physical separation in order to make progress. She moved in with a friend sometime in January. We continued to go to counseling, bringing more things to light that had been hidden away in the dark corners of our hearts. When staying with a friend was no longer an option, and she wasn't ready to come home, she moved into an apartment in early April.

As we approached the 12 week mark of our counseling, we were still covering new ground, but we didn't seem to be taking the next step of resolving any of the issues. In the 12th session, our counselor made a comment that turned us both off to her. We decided to take some time off and maybe find someone else. We never went back.

J and I met once in a while to talk, but less and less frequently as time went by. Week by week, the hope of reconciliation seemed to drift farther away. In July, she said she wasn't coming home. Now we are working on all the details involved in ending our marriage.

We didn't tell much of anyone when we first started to go to counseling to work on our relationship. Our thoughts were that we didn't even know what was going on, so why involve other people at that point. As things progressed, we had to keep making up stories to cover up the fact that we weren't living together. When J moved into her apartment, we decided to start telling friends when we could see them in person.

Unfortunately, our out of town friends didn't find out about our struggles until we were already on our way to divorce. They have encouraged us to do everything possible to try to save the marriage. Having been out of the loop, they haven't been with us to see the path we have walked so far, and have only had the result sprung on them. I'd like to think there is always hope, and understand their encouragement to work things out, but it has become clear that it isn't an option at this point.

It is sometimes harder for the person watching, than it is for the person suffering. No words or actions seem adequate, and you are left feeling helpless. I don't think anything I write here will explain why we weren't able to make it work. I can only describe the path we walked (as I understand it).

Who I am and why I'm here

After seven or so years of marriage, my wife and I have been separated for most of 2009, and are now headed for divorce.

We were married in September of 2001, two days before the world changed. I feel some of that same confusion in trying to understand how my world has changed once again. I have experienced shock, disbelief, numbness, anger, fear, shame, and a whole range of emotions I am only beginning to understand.

I have had the support and counsel of friends, family and professionals, but I am still trying to find my footing. I have found that you achieve a greater understanding of something when you try to explain it to someone else. I have found some meaning in discussions with other people, but my emotions are still raw and I can't always gather my thoughts and express what I am feeling.

In the past I have found meaning in writing. I am hoping to find comfort, guidance, understanding, and ultimately peace once again. I intend to be more open and honest with the people in my life, but I think my journey needs to begin on paper. I will likely be bouncing forward and back in time, at turns describing what I am currently going through, and flashing back in time to try to understand how I got here.

In speaking with friends, I have found that everyone is struggling with issues in their relationships and marriage. We don't always talk about this part of our life, and I hope that in sharing my journey, others will find that they are not alone in their struggle. You might find a spark of understanding in following my progress, and may also provide insight to help me along my path. I will not find illumination on my own, and do not want to distance myself from life any longer.

Thank you for joining me on my journey.