11 years. That’s how long I’ve lived in my duplex. I love living in it too. I love how the light shines on the deck all day, how the light comes in through the sliding back door, how the real wood floors creak when I place my rested feet on them, as if I’m helping my home wake up along with me. I love making coffee in my tiny kitchen, and standing in the dark drinking it as I look at the sunrise or the snow through my front window. It’s simple and it’s all mine. I’ve come to have a relationship with these walls and this place. It has comforted me during the most joyous as well as dark moments in life. On a certain level, it has become my small slice of refuge.
Alongside my home ownership anniversary is the anniversary of my divorce because it was finalized the same month I moved into my duplex, and yes, not an accident on my part. In fact, I calculated it at the time, hoping that the final paperwork would be delivered to my new address as a way of officially starting over. I laugh at my 2007 self now, but that was what I was thinking. Since then, having zero understanding of what I would go through, it is one of those life events that I’ve “oprahed” so to speak to a point where I know what I was supposed to learn from that chapter that I thought was going to be part of the whole novel of my life. It took me a really long time and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I could really put that chapter on the shelf of my life, where the binding would read what Leonard sings about, “There’s a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” But, it seems like society treats it like something that you are always going “to be”. Divorced. “Hi, my name is Laura and I’m divorced.”
I’d like to be able to divorce myself from my divorce. I think I’ve earned it, but is that a thing? It’s hard to say, given how our society seems to want to define people by their relationship status, but I am not my divorce. The pile of paperwork, with those check boxes that you must mark in order to get or sign up for something, surveys, social media…even when no one is asking, people will cough up their status right away. If the IRS can move past your divorce and recognize that you’re single again without the added declaration, I feel like I can divorce from my divorce.
I loathe how being divorced is a special club to some so that when you’re out, and you say you’re divorced, that then allows the other person to somehow join forces with you, believing that you have something in common because you’ve been through a divorce. Certainly, there is a common perspective, but then again, maybe not. I don’t put more chips in the basket of us becoming good friends or partners based on the fact that you’ve had a divorce too.
When a relationship is officially over, when is it acceptable to no longer have to say you are divorced? I am not in a perpetual state of divorce. I went through my divorce, which is an event with a process that has an ending whereas when you’re married, you are in fact expressing your current state. Saying that you’re divorced comes with a stigma whereas when you’re married, you are following the standard prescription that most of society expects of people.
My wise mother once told me that divorce is like mourning the death of a loved one. Of course, it took my own divorce to learn what she meant. I know how you eventually have to shelve what you thought to be the love of your life. I know that on that shelf, there are memories that won’t ever die, and conversations that you will replay in your mind. I know how it feels to hear your song on the radio. Divorce is a profound loss of life, a loss of a WE that you were once a part of and that comes with a lot of grief stages. So, while I don’t want to erase it, I certainly don’t need society to remind me or teach me because that is on me. I’ve done my homework and I’ve checked in with myself so I am thinking that I don’t need the check boxes anymore.
We are all beautiful, unfinished projects that are just trying to get better and better so this is me, on my 11th anniversary, giving myself permission to divorce from my divorce. Who knows, maybe it will be a thing one day and I’ll have to check the box that says “recovered divorcee'”.
“I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” -Carl Jung