I'm writing this having just received my decree absolute that makes me absolutely, categorically not married.
The stress of this. From getting the guts to do it, to finding the time to do the forms, getting proof, to chasing my now ex-husband to sign, send them again, engage a bailiff, wait, wonder, worry.
When it came for me to sign the decree nisi (the one that comes before the absolute), I signed the section on 'uncontested divorce'. What does uncontested mean? The papers were never acknowledged, the charges uncontested, in the eyes of the law that being an admittance of guilt. They went completely ignored. The irony is not lost on me that the divorce papers suffered the condition I spent most of my marriage living in.
When I was a child all I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. I knew it would be a hard job - I am not afraid of hard work. I was also aware through my short-lived relationships as a young woman that many men are reluctant to make any kind of commitment. I expected that I'd have to wait a long time for my dreams to come true.
When I met Judah's father, I was 19. It seemed that straight away he wanted me to move in and share his life with me. I still maintain he 'raised' me through my journey to adulthood, there are still behaviours I notice about myself that were programmed by him. I was bowled over by this excessive demonstration of commitment, culminating in a proposal of marriage on my 21st birthday (by which time his behaviour had already began to take a turn for the worse). I reasoned with myself, this is what somebody does when they love you. Why would a man ask to marry you unless he loved you?
The wedding was called off when I left him for abusive behaviour in Christmas 2012. My attempt to leave was unsuccessful and since I became pregnant shortly after, the wedding went ahead.
My life as a wife was awful, comparable only to when I suffered depression as a teenager. I spent the first year in a dreamy haze of babies and breastfeeding, feeling reassured by the friendly presence of my roommate Shane in the house and knowing my husband was working hard to support me and Judah. I felt so grateful that I could stay at home and be with Judah, I tried to be perfect to compensate my husband for what I perceived to be my unfair advantage, staying home instead of working.
The second year was the most emotionally isolating experience of my life. As I began to gain independence through my job he became worse. On my first day of teaching Daisy, right before I left he made me cry on purpose. I felt ugly, unwanted, unworthy. I spent vast amounts of time alone, or with Judah. I couldn't tell anybody what was going on because marriage was supposed to be hard work, wasn't it? Why complain when this is what I had signed up for? I knew you were supposed to work hard at a marriage that can be strained with young children, to get the reward of having somebody always there for you, who loved you. While I was working hard, he was partying and spending money we didn't have, and taking coworkers on dates.
Divorce is humiliating, especially for a marriage so short. I am still plagued with shaming thoughts, thinking of the people who came, the money that was spent, what people must think, especially as I was so young. It has been hard work to re-frame these thoughts into positive ones and acknowledge I went into it with good faith, with somebody who never wanted me to be their equal partner. I would never say never, but I'm not sure how I would feel about marrying again, as I felt keenly what felt like a demotion from girlfriend to wife. Looking back it was like it was a license to behave worse, a trapping to make it harder to leave.
Exactly a year later, I've made the decision to no longer write about my marriage to my son's father. The future is so bright and I'm so amazed and happy that my life could be this wonderful only one year later. I am not even close to the same person I was when I was a wife. I am free.
motherhood, written august 2014
lately i sit, idle,
yet not idle - poised
tuned to the monitor in the kitchen
and a baby's cries.
stroking that sweaty, suckling head
feeling the tingling
of the milk letting down.
this is a new land i traversed,
and brought you with me, yet
you have not been where i have been.
my body is indented with marks that say
a mother lives here
shows not a sign.
i wonder if they know?
the girls on the street.
the ones that used to be me.
free, and laughing
in an empty cacophony.
know that yes, you belong to us
us and me.
just tell me-
what about me is so untouchable?
what part of this heart so unlovable?
since it became so full
with your beautiful baby.
every day i grow stronger
and i did it myself
grower, nurturer, nourisher
forgotten on the shelf.