Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Divorce

Something is happening, but what is it?  In science and mathematics, something that has happened can be checked and proven.  What has happened can be known.  Mechanical devices can be reverse engineered and what they do and how they work may be discovered and understood.  Two plus two is four; devices work or they don’t.  It is all very straightforward and objective.  When something happens to a human being, however, it is, by definition, subjective.  What? Why? How?  Nothing is ever clear; nothing can be proven.

Something is happening to me.  I can feel it all weaving its new reality around me, but what it is, and why, and how, are questions that I cannot answer with any certainty. 

I am in the process of getting a divorce from my wife of forty-four years.  For most of that time I thought that it was a fine marriage.  We seemed to get along okay, it usually appeared that we were meeting each other’s emotional needs.  I can say, with all honesty, that even close to the end I would wake up and watch her sleeping, and think with wonder what great luck had brought me to her side. We raised two very fine children, very successful organisms, healthy, relatively well adjusted, now grown men not without success in the affairs of society, both well-loved, morally upright, and very respectable.  Why should we get divorced at all, much less this close to retirement? 

That inquiry would start out, Roshamon style, with two distinct points of view.  And like in that great Japanese movie, the resulting stories would be very different depending on the speaker.  Different people tend to spin stories in different directions, to meet their own requirements of emotion, ego, pride or shame.  Me, I don’t even like to think about it.  Starting down that road it all starts very quickly to look like placing blame, and I don’t see any profit in it.  Nothing will ever change the fact that my family is my family.  Anything that I can do to keep us getting along with each other as well as possible would only tend to help me.  Not just me, wouldn’t that be better for everybody? 

My wife and I have always had very different points of view about our marriage, so it’s no surprise to me that we should find differences of opinion about what is happening now.  Over the years we engaged in marriage counseling two different times, the first after a few years of marriage and the other after about ten or eleven years.  On both of these occasions we were asked what we thought was wrong.  On both occasions I didn’t feel like much was wrong at all, while my wife could go on and on about what was wrong and acted like I was either delusional or in denial.  At this point I don’t even want to know what she thinks, or what she tells her friends and family, or what she tells herself.  What good could come of knowing?  And no discussion is possible. 

I don’t like to think about it, but I do think about it.  The results, so far, have not been encouraging.  There is a problem that is similar, but separate from the Roshamon problem.  Most of us do not remember things as they happened, for one thing.  And most of us tend to spin reality to suit our own needs, emotionally etc.  Selective memory is a real problem.  Then there are the lies that we tell ourselves, a form of self-preservation.  And forget about explaining any emotional event to someone else, that feat is beyond the power of any human being.  It is true that my name is in the Petitioner spot on the divorce papers, so one could be forgiven to think that it was my idea, but I don’t believe that I am the engine of destruction here.  I believe that I filed because I was driven to it.  Whether this was the result of real events or suppositions that occurred in my mind or the mind of someone else, I'll never be too sure.

Checking down the list of verifiable facts it is very clear to me that divorce is my best, if not my only option.  It all seems very clear to me that it was my wife who decided that we can’t possibly live together any more.  There are quotes in e-mails, in very direct, unambiguous language, some quite cruel.  I was excluded from the house, abandoned to my fate as it were.  "Make your own plans, I can't take the doom and gloom anymore." That was six years pre-filing, and at no point was I ever invited back, never was an apology offered to me, she never showed any sign of having changed her mind.  My wife began to refer to our house as her house, and so on down the line.  Any time I attempted to address any substantive issue between us in e-mail or in person the result was an angry reply or a long silence followed by an e-mail about the weather, or a "how about them Dodgers?"  Cars were bought and sold, the property was improved at great expense of bank money, all with no input from me, I was simply never informed of any of it.  It’s true that there had never been anything like joint management and control of community assets in our marriage, so this was nothing in the way of a surprise, it was nothing new.  It had always been her way or the highway.  Only the kick-out order was new.

My wife maintains that she doesn't want us to get divorced.  Since she does this with no accompanying indication that she wishes us to resume our lives together I must assume that she really wishes to be rid of me while continuing her management and control of our community property.  It is, in any case, a matter that is now in the category of "already happened."  It's a little late to start rearranging the deck chairs.  

The above is my basic understanding of what is happening, but it’s not the last word.  For me, there never is any last word.  My own thoughts, like digitally produced music and films, are subject to constant revision.  Even worse, I have a tendency to blame myself whenever something goes wrong.  This is a very old tendency, extending well into childhood.  In my childhood family, we experienced abandonment issues (my father was rarely at home, preferring his work environment which included extensive travel) and mental health issues (my mother, God rest her soul, don’t cry for her, death was all she ever wanted).  Our house was never a happy place.  I somehow became convinced that they were a nice family, the three of them, my father, my mother and my sister, and that I just ruined the picture.  Why would anyone think that?  It’s strange, isn’t it?  Was I right, or wrong, or merely confused?  Was it some fault of mine, or theirs?  (Not my sister’s, of course.)  Should I have done anything differently?  Should someone have intervened?  Who would that have been?  Oh, these questions spin out of control very quickly, do they not? 

I have a tendency to be very hard on myself in general.  So if I consider the reasons that my wife would want to be rid of me (without really being rid of me) I usually come to the conclusion that she’s right to feel that way.  I even wonder how the divorce could be my fault without my even knowing it.  My new situation is not entirely unpleasant.  Did I manufacture the entire thing for personal advantage?  How is my selective memory affecting my actions? 

I don’t believe that we construct our own reality, because the involvement of fate is too great for that.  But maybe we construct our own understanding of it.  Telling ourselves convenient lies wouldn’t be the half of it, if the truth were known. 

So I know what’s happening, I’m getting divorced.  But I’ll be land-damned if I am really sure why or how this is happening to me.  


Allin58 said...

Whow! I occasionally drop by to read your missives and take advantage of your good ear for music. We seem to have a similar philosophy of the world. Now this. My advice is to keep meditating on positive things in your life. Coincidentally I have a couple of good friends who have had similar things happen to them recently. They didn’t see it coming and it took a while to get past the “what the heck just happened?” phase. They are both doing quite well now. I hope the same fortune for you.

fred c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fred c said...

Thanks for the good wishes, and thanks for stopping by, and thanks, especially, for the validation.