Loss and that peculiar anniversary

About a year ago, I was wondering if I would notice the next anniversary of my divorce, on 22 September 17, when it became three years since the judge signed the order. I have an answer to that question now, though I probably hoped that the day would go right by and a few days later, sometime around the 25th, I would realize that I had missed it. That would be OK with me, would tell me something about where I am with the loss.

Don Henley wrote, “It’s been over two years for me, and I’m still not quite myself.” As I was driving and writing this post in my head, “Already Gone” by the Eagles came on Sirius, and it occurred to me that the Eagles wrote a lot of good divorce music, and that I hope to not need that information again.

However, in disaster psychology, there is a principle that when you lose something, not all of what you lose is something that you want, is good for you. When you go to rebuild, you may not replace everything exactly as it was. You may decide to build something better than it was the first time, or to not replace another thing at all.

Please, though, I am not calling the marriage or her a disaster. I am not bashing her, and I will not, ever. That will probably make this post boring, but this site was constructed as a place of honor, for myself and for everyone else. I have no dirty laundry and even if I did, I would not air it here. I’m not talking about finding someone “better” than she was. I’m talking about building myself and my life. With that, I can see that I am not quite where I would like to be, but I am in a better place.

My apartment is still cluttered but I have been cleaning it, and much of the clutter relates to being a doctoral student. As a PhD candidate, I have more control of my schedule. Edgar Allen Poe used a literary device called “the room of the mind” to introduce his characters, telling the reader about a character’s mental status by describing the character’s room. Today, we would call that projective psychology and it is no longer especially innovative, but Poe was writing before Sigmund Freud was born. Besides, Poe invented the modern detective story, and he really liked ravens.

So, yes, my apartment is still a bit of a mess. I moved out of her condo in March 2013. I moved twice in 2014 and twice in 2015, and it was 2016 before I emptied the last of the moving boxes. I’m in my third year in my current apartment and all of that feels like an improvement.

I could not have become a school psychologist without her, but I could not have become a PhD candidate with her, so that feels like an improvement, too.

I have been dating for three years, and it sucks. Horribly. There is so much pain out there. I see it in the women who go on a few dates that go well and things seem nice and then they ghost. I hear it in the stories about men who lie and steal and manipulate. Right at the moment, I’m not sure that the benefit is worth the cost, that the hope ever becomes real. I don’t know. That could just be the anniversary talking.

I still have my wedding ring. I know where it is, but I haven’t looked at it in at least two years. It’s a nice ring, a Celtic knot pattern in white gold, and I like it even though I don’t really like to wear jewelry. I know that I can never wear that ring again and I need to see it as what it is, a few hundred dollars in a form that I cannot use. Selling it has to be one of my goals for next year. I’ve already removed everything else that reminded me of her.

I’m learning to cook. I can make an omelet now. I have a slow cooker and a few ideas for it. I want to write a cookbook called “The No Co-Pay Cookbook,” mostly aimed at guys like me. I have looked for cookbooks but they all have the word “gourmet” or “elegant” in the titles and when I see that, I know that I don’t need to read any further. It has been almost two months since I dropped that steak knife on my foot and I will confess to being a bit disappointed that it wasn’t sticking out of the top of my foot. I bled polka dots onto my kitchen rug, which needed some character anyway. No co-pay on that one, either – direct pressure and elevation worked in about 20 minutes. I like knowing that I have good steak knives, too.

My beard, which is a topic for another post, has much to do with separating from her. I did not look this way when I was with her. The beard was an easy way to distinguish myself from my married self, but I have come to really like it. It curls under my chin now, and the curls are red. It’s a mix of brown and gray and red and it fascinates the elementary school kids where I work. It’s long enough not to get caught in my collar now, too. It fits with being a PhD candidate, too.

The sense of failure has gone away. I don’t believe in perfection any longer and with her, I know that I did what I could do. Anything that I could add to this point would be a cliché, even if it is accurate.

In the end, the goal is to live neither in avoidance of, or compulsion toward, what was but rather to simply live without regard for what used to be. I hope that she is healthy and happy and that she has a good life.