Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Irretrievable breakdown

So. I got divorced today.

It was kind of an out-of-body experience. Very surreal. We went to the courthouse for our hearing with all of our paperwork. Waited for the family court to open at 9am. Bickered a little bit about who knows what. Tyler made some comment about the next poor sucker who has to deal with me and I told him that maybe we just shouldn't talk if he was going to insist on making this worse than it had to be. Not a fantastic start to the day... but then, what exactly would constitute a fantastic start to the day you get divorced?

Anyway. We talked to a family relations officer for about 45 minutes, and she got all of our paperwork in order. Changed a couple of things in our parenting plan, most notably changing joint physical custody to primary physical custody for me, and increasing my child support a little bit. I forget what else we talked about. I couldn't really focus. I was mostly sitting there staring at this woman thinking that she must have the worst job in the whole entire world, and that's saying something coming from a dentist, don't you think?

Then we went before the judge. We stood together in front of a table and they swore us in. The thought passed through my mind that we were standing together in a room with wood-paneled walls in front of a man with a beard just like on our wedding day, and I desperately tried to squash it. The judge asked me a lot of questions, because I was the plaintiff. He went through our agreement with us and asked us if we agreed to everything and if we understood.

He asked me to raise my right hand and swear that I believed that our agreement was in the best interest of my child. I flinched. I could feel the tears coming up behind my eyes but I swallowed hard and did what he said. I spread my hands on the table in front of me and stared at them while he asked the same of Tyler.

He asked me if I wanted my birth name back, and I said yes.

Then he restated the terms of our agreement, said "I find this marriage dissolved on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown" and wished us luck.

That was it. We left the courtroom. Waiting for the elevator, Tyler said "Well that wasn't as painful as I thought it would be." I didn't answer or look at him. I started crying in an elevator for the second time since this whole thing went down and then we were standing outside. I said, "I'm so sorry for everything." He said he was too. Then we left. And that was it.

I couldn't shake this feeling, the entire time, that although the people we dealt with at the courthouse were very nice, they were looking at us and thinking that we were so young, and that we had a child. And judging us. Really, I'm to the point where I don't much care who judges me for getting divorced anymore, but it's the implication that I'm doing wrong by my child that bothers me. I mean, I'll be the first to tell you that I don't know the right way to raise a child. I don't. But I do know a couple of wrong ways. And staying with a man I don't love and can't get along with, out of some misguided sense of duty... that's a wrong way. And I can't do it. I won't.

I was in a weird place for the rest of the day. I couldn't figure out how to feel. I thought I'd be thrilled and relieved... I definitely wasn't that. I think it will take awhile to sink in. And it was all so official and cold and legal and draining that I just felt sort of numb. I texted my friends to tell them that it was final. (One of them sent me an email not more than five minutes later asking for my shoe size because I'm a bridesmaid in her wedding... really? Can we not hold off on the wedding-talk until I've been divorced for longer than 45 minutes? I told her "Whatever size is appropriate for the bridesmaid who gets the drunkest and bangs the hottest groomsman.")

At the end of the day, I got home from clinic and there was a letter for me from the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (how very official of them) informing me that I had passed my national boards.

And then I felt better. I have a job, I have the qualifications to start said job, I'm good at what I do, I can support my child. I have great friends. Caroline is awesome and hilarious and she's going to grow up in a peaceful and happy home. Just because today was painful doesn't mean I did the wrong thing. It just means that I didn't take any of these decisions lightly.

I've got my eye on the prize, and the prize is... happiness. For all three of us. Together, apart, or somewhere in between.


Merks said...

Stasa's offer to come and entertain you with fart humor still stands. Just sayin'.

NancyandMark said...

Time heals all wounds. I've been reading all of your posts and from what I hve read, I do believe you are doing the right thing for all of you. Happiness is key!
Congratulations on passing your boards. It's a great start to your new life. Wishing you the happiness that you deserve!

Amanda said...

I don't think that I've ever commented on your blog before, but I've been reading since almost the beginning.

Please, please, please know that you are most certainly doing the right thing. Take this from a girl who grew up watching her parents argue daily and who was constantly in the middle of those arguments.

My parents didn't get divorced until I was in college and it was awful. It was incredibly hard on all of us; I was convinced that it was my fault. (If I would have gone to school closer they would still be together - the usual guilt feelings).
But she stayed miserable for so long because she felt obligated that her daughter (me) have both parents together.
I can tell you now that I wish they would have done this long before I ever knew what was going on. Not just for the selfish reason that I wouldn't have to see all of the pain it caused, but because the marriage was over for so long - it robbed her of her life. That's 20 years she can't get back.
I know that a child is the most important thing to a parent, but don't forget that you first have to do what's right for you, in order to do the best thing for your daughter.
Good luck!

Troy & Amy said...

I think that last comment says it all. You ARE doing what is right for Caroline. Don't let others facial expressions make you doubt that. It might not even be about you are the time. When you are feeling those judgements come on - remember that. Also, the people that have these kinds of judgements have no idea what you have and are going thru. I believe that the people that feel the need to judge others are usually ignorant, simple minded people. They can't and don't even try to understand the situation. THAT is their problem, not yours.

You are doing what's best and you are going to keep doing what's best for your child because that's what mothers do. And you are the best mother for Caroline. God picked YOU out for her because he knew you'd be the best. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to do what you did. Remember THAT - you are a strong, courageous mother and Caroline is better for that.

And also - I learned this a long time ago - Do your best to be, if anything, a friend to Tyler. Do this for Caroline's sake - he is her father and that's the worst thing, I think, for a child is when the parents are nasty to one other. I can't say that I come from any experience only having my best friend end up in a divorce with a child. I didn't like her husband, I actually couldn't stand him, he cheated on her and I witnessed it - but I still, you know, I felt for her daughter and I said the same thing to her that I just told you. With any situation like this, I can't imagine how hard it is for kids when their parents can't be, . . . well kind to one another. You and Tyler truly sound like you are being adult about the entire situation. I wish best for all of you.

Jennifer said...

Divorce sucks, plain and simple. But I know all of our girls are going to be much happier with happy parents. Chin up.