My friend J. asked me, after I wrote the letter Monday, if I was going to be able to “move on” now, if K.’s given or having given a response to it would help me to do that.

“Not really,” I said. “I mean, obviously I’m dealing with the reality of my life. Just as obviously, I’m not going to magically go to a place of being done with this when to do so is entirely contrary to what I want to do and believe should happen.”

But that’s sort of what did happen. On Tuesday we had a counseling appointment. Much talk was had about K.’s parenting and my concerns about it. The counselor suggested that, when I observe K. parenting negatively by repeatedly yelling at Thing One instead of actively redirecting him, I step in and hold Thing One as a way of both disciplining and comforting him.

“I can do that,” I said. “It seems like a way for me to take the burden of parenting from K. What do you think of that, K.?”

And lo! Out of a shadowy place I had not been aware of came his response: “Well, it all goes back to you telling me to leave.”

(Implication: it’s your own fault if you have the burden because you brought this on yourself? Sounds like it to me.)

This is very interesting because, as may be obvious, I have never told K. to leave. On Dec. 5 he told me, “Baby, I want to get a divorce.” On Dec. 7 we had a meeting about “praciticalities” (my instigation), which he opened by saying, “I guess I’ll start looking for an apartment.” On Dec. 9 he and Thing One had an incident that disturbed me, one that involved Thing One crying that he wanted a different Daddy and K., when I tried to comfort Thing One and asked K. to reassure him, saying bitterly, “I have nothing to say. Right now I just want to leave.” Still on Dec. 9, I took Thing One to school, much disturbed by the emotional damage that had been done, came home, and asked K. if he wanted to “take a break” from the domestic situation by staying somewhere else for a couple of weeks. “If you need space,” I said, after he had agreed with me that parenting was going badly for him and that the incident with Thing One left much to be desired and was damaging their relationship. I made it clear that I hoped for K. to just get some space if he wanted it and then to come back and deal with our family. Maybe that was naive, I don’t know. But I do know that he didn’t have any comment except to agree that he was not interacting well with Thing One and didn’t take any action except to get online with Jezebel and immediately arrange to go stay in her apartment.

He moved out on the night of Dec. 10. I called his parents to let them know and ended up crying to them for several hours. His mother later told me that, when she’d finally talked to him several days later, he’d said he felt “kicked out.”

When he left, he told me, “I’m sorry. This is the worst thing I’ve ever done.”

I told him, “You can come back. I know you don’t think you will, but you can come back. We love you. And it’s not perfect here, and maybe it needs a lot of work, but it’s better with you. You can come back.”

He left. And thus began the last almost-two months of my saying all the things I said on Monday, in different times and different ways and finally all at once and on paper.

We talked about the letter in counseling on Tuesday. His comment was, “I’m breaking those promises.” We also talked about alcohol consumption, in the context of his having said he’d agreed to lunch with a family friend who’s a naturopath (at his mom’s instigation) to talk about dealing with his moods better. I asked him to discuss his alcohol consumption with said friend because it’s well-known that alcohol is a mood destabilizer and depressant. His response: “There’s no point in talking about this because I’m not going to stop drinking. I’m a moderate drinker.”

Moderate? Eye of the beholder, etc. I’m sure there are days when he has only a drink or two. But then again, this is also the guy who told me excitedly (after he’d moved out) about how he’d found a bar that served triples of whiskey for $8 and liked to stop there after work, around one a.m., on his way ‘home.’ The guy who has emptied the vodka and single-malt and Courvoisier bottles from our liquor collection and who, I noticed when I got home that night, has also nearly-emptied the nearly-full bottle of Calvados. All this in the few nights (max average one per week) that he’s been here past mid-afternoon since he started coming over again around the solstice. Hmmm.

Anyway, the counselor said I was “acting like a wife” and K. was “acting like an ex” during this conversation. The implication seemed to me that I was out of touch with reality.

Is it reality to just accept it when a person you love, who is and has been suffering from various mood disorders, whose current behavior is at odds with his professed values, who has become a person who calls his three-year-old an “asshole” and that “I’m leaving because I don’t like the way you’re acting” (Dec. 14, following a two-hour visit), who had always said “Divorce is not an option” and is now saying “divorce is the only option,” who had told you he loved you and desired you and was faithful only two weeks before and who sent a text message from another woman’s bed to her saying “I found Salinger nestled amongst the pillows. I wish I’d found you.” (night of Dec. 13/14)? Is it “realistic” to just say, when he says, “Baby, I want to get a divorce,” “Okay, honey, if you say so?”

It would have been easier, maybe.  But I’m not convinced it would have been more real. And maybe I’m just being paranoid. Maybe the counselor was just trying to “mirror” or “reflect” or whatever other stupid pop-psych visual metaphor is working for the counseling crowd these days.

“I’m breaking those promises.”

That is another reality.

I talked about my parents’ divorce and how they couldn’t be friends after because of how quick and unequivocal the rupture. “We’re not like your parents,” he said.

“No,” I replied. “I can fake it better. But it is faking it. We are not friends anymore. This is ending far more than a marriage. This is ending a friendship, a family, a support, all those other obvious things. We are not friends. We will not be friends. And that is why I have been so sad all week; because it was not just that I couldn’t share my tenure vote with my husband; it was that I couldn’t share it with the one friend who could share that with me in a way that mattered.”

There was a time — there was nearly four years’ worth of time — when that would have mattered to him. But now is now. Now it has been nearly two months since he told me it was over. Now I have sat through several weeks’ worth of trying to find a place to stand that doesn’t involve breaking up our family and losing my best friend and not having to have the lyrics “you cause as much sorrow dead/as you did alive” run through my head every time I think of the man to whom I committed my life.

Now I have failed to do that.

Now the only person I ever truly gave myself to has slammed that door shut, and there is not even a shred of solidarity or friendship or family affection left in the room where I’m standing.

I took off my wedding ring on Wednesday. I did not put it into the car ashtray. I put it on my right hand, where it rests atop a nearly identical ring that my mother wore during her marriage to my father. History repeats itself.

The ring is still a promise. It is still a reminder. A reminder of something different now that I don’t have that husband or lover or friend, but a reminder nonetheless, of that family and those promises that I made and which I still refuse to betray, insofar as it is  possible not to.

“I’m not going to agree,” I said. “I’m not going to endorse this. I don’t believe it is right.” I didn’t mean I’m going to drag him to court to divorce me. I meant I’m not going to say, ‘Okay, fine, great, you say we’re getting divorced so let’s do it! And be happy! And let bygones be bygones! Rad!’


“I’m already gone,” he said.