A marriage has ended. The crushing blow, the death knell, appeared in my email inbox. An email cheery in tone despite the horrible news which awaited me.
The Dude hasn't left me. If anything, I should leave him - stuck here blogging whilst he watches cage fighting yet again. The dissolution of a marriage is that of our very dearest friends S & G.
I became friends with G our senior year in high school. We were in some nothing class together, a class taught by a man best known for his overt affair with a fellow teacher's wife. I seem to recall the class was called "Science and Social Issues", despite the complete lack of scientific curriculum (thank god) and the "social issues" manifested themselves via the class gossiping for the full class time. At times the teacher would leave for the entire period, the apocryphal tale being that he was sneaking off for a quick shag with the other teacher's wife, or perhaps for a pint at the local dive bar where my brother still sees him on the odd Friday night.
Anyway, G had a baby fathered by her high school boyfriend after we graduated, and married this great guy, S. This baby, M, now 11, is a wonderful little girl. Before P was born, I always said M and her younger brother F were the only kids I liked. On some days, they still are.
When we lived in the States we were constantly with S & G. Given how different The Dude and I are, it was a miraculous event that we managed to find a married couple that we both got on with so flawlessly. Each trip back to the States had more S & G time than it did Mom time, no doubt because S & G never mocked my flat ass. Their kids are my kids, my kid is their kid, and if we could have worked out mass Canadian residency, we would have happily pooled our resources and lived on some sort of mini commune together.
That closeness, that alleged familiarity, has failed me this week as I discovered in this email. It was a group email, sent within our close knit circle of 5 high school friends. I started this recent rash of emails as I have been verklempt and emotional over us all turning 30 within the next few months, not expecting any amazing news, boring, standard middle class folks as we are.
In retrospect, it was like a hidden camera show, me reading this email. It said something along the lines of, "Nothing new going on with me really. I have an AWESOME new apartment here in downtown Fuckabilly and I'm so happy! Yes, I'm single. So is S. We're both content with this situation and will probably no longer be married this time next year." So on, and so on. I kept waiting for the joke to end, for the paragraph to conclude with one of those cutesy wink emoticons, but no dice. It was really over. My heart sank, and I'm not kidding you, I had heart palpatations. This is how much emotion I had invested in this marriage. I had to read it multiple times for the stark reality of this confession to sink in, and even sitting here now I can't believe it.
I phoned G as soon as I got home last night. To twist the knife even further into the gaping wound in my battered heart, G was at her old house! With S! They were chatting and having a right old knees up! Oh, the gaeity of the newly separated life! G was chipper, even telling me that when they broke the news to the kids, they were fine with it. I'm suffering more with the end of this marriage than their own kids? How does this work? I'm a grown up - a hardened, embittered ex-infertile, how can this be?
Turns out, G wanted to tell me the day she moved out. Life got in the way, and all of a sudden so much time had passed that she then didn't know how to tell me. She tried to rope one of our mutual friends into telling me, but our friend quickly, and wisely, washed her hands of that situation. I was relieved that it wasn't me. You see, in high school (yes, I'm going there again) my best friend didn't want to tell me that she was on birth control because she was afraid I would judge her. Apparently, I'm perceived as prudish and Amish-like. Now I have this complex that my friends don't tell me the truth about their lives because I'll get all Judgey McJudgerson on them. I happen to think I'm the least judgmental out of all of us, but maybe that's all in my head. Don't judge me.
Here's the real revelation - I'm more torn apart with S & G's separation than I was when my own parents split up. Whatever is going on in this head of mine? When my Mom told me that she and my Dad were separating, there was no sinking feeling. I just felt relieved. No more underlying tension, no more nights with one parent in the master bedroom and the other in the spare bedroom, and most importantly, no more angry whispers between my parents as to whether my Dad had skipped his AA meeting to get drunk.
I'm not usually so naive as to believe any given marriage will work out. I think a lot of marriages are doomed to fail, and I think anyone who isn't realistic about their own marriage is just deluding themselves. Yes, it's immensely cynical, but I don't see the sense in putting blinders on and assuming you will live happily ever after. I once read something, somewhere in this wide old blogosphere, from a blogger who was happily married. According to her, she and her husband would never get divorced. Never. In fact, they wouldn't even entertain the idea that it was even the most remote possibility. This is weird to me. No one knows what the future is to bring. People change. Feelings change. Circumstances change. You can't always control alterations in your life, so why be so ignorant as to say this event will never happen?
I'm very happy in my marriage. Does this mean I will be in two years' time? No. He could become a person I no longer like, I could be that person for him. How are we to know? I then wonder whether this negative mentality is just an unfortunate byproduct of being of my generation, one which experienced the first real wave of divorced parents?
I'm interested to know what you think. Are you a realist, or is this extreme pessimism and I'm insulting realism by categorising it as such? Are you one of the blissful ones with little read hearts in your eyes instead of pupils? I'd love to hear dissenting opinions on this matter. Just make sure you tell me soon after you get separated, mmkay? Don't make me break up with your marriage by an email sent four months after the fact. The Amish can only take so much anguish.