Saturday, May 23, 2009

The way it is

I've started about five blog entries in the last several weeks. Here's the thing. I don't do well with secrecy, with protecting my inner life from view. I'm a bit of a soul-exhibitionist, in case you hadn't noticed. Yet these last several months have required a bit of delicacy in what I share. I've slowly let the story out with those who've asked privately. I'm finally to a place now where I can share more. So let me do that so you know what's going on with me.

In January, my husband and I separated. We've had a little back and forth since then (where he's lived at home again) but as of April, the separation became certain. We are living apart and sharing the kids. No one does this kind of thing lightly. The articles, books, radio show hosts that talk about divorce being too easy these days and how marriage partners dump long-term commitment for a younger model or because they're bored and want an "easy way out," are insensitive jerks. They're living in some fantasy I call "ideological-land" where they create a narrative to back up their defensive apologetics to describe the world as they would like it to be. It would be far more helpful if they stopped talking about how easy it is to leave a marriage and focused on how heroic so many people are for staying in them while in excruciating, soul-alienating pain.

Truth is, I have yet to meet anyone who has cavalierly tossed a marriage aside. Who does that? The ones that do must not be well-publicized, because by now I would have met this overwhelming majority. Rather, most people I've met, read, had the privilege of knowing who've been through separation and/or divorce, agonize over the loss of history, shared story, children, couple identity, joint assets and even that happiest of experiences: familiarity. For longterm marriages like ours (24 years), upsetting the apple cart of our family's story has been the most emotionally exhausting and painful thing we've ever done.

It's a myth to think that people move on to avoid the hard work of repairing their marriages. Did you know statistically, for instance, that married men who have affairs are far more likely to return to their wives than to leave them for the other woman? FAR more likely. Even when they are still in love with the other woman! The reasons to stay married are compelling and powerful, even when there's violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, emotional and verbal abuse, and extramarital affairs. So imagine some of the lesser reasons couples become dissatisfied (growing apart, financial instability, fundamental differences in lifestyle or religious outlook, trauma in the form of illness or wayward child, job loss...) and realize that people do tend to figure out ways to put up with a lot of crap for the sake of the "institution" or more poignantly, their families that they love, or more cynically, their fear of the unknown.

In fact, now that I'm in the whirlpool of marital dysfunction, I can't believe the divorce rate isn't higher! One of the most startling discoveries during this process is how many friends have shared their marital stories with me and how many suffer... a lot. Yet they stay married. (Many of them can't think of anything else to do since they haven't worked in 20+ years, either). Clearly the social pressure to protect the status quo "works" (I use that term loosely) a lot better than most of us give it credit for.

In my case, having been a child of divorce, I've never ever ever imagined that my life would include a separation. In fact, if I had one goal in my life that was immovable, it was to make it to the end with Jon. And that is still my hope... that somehow out of the ashes, we'll be able to rebirth a marriage worth sharing, keeping and protecting. For now, though, I live in a shattered dream state. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. I thought you should know.

24 comments:

Drew Tatusko said...

Thanks for sharing and know you are in our hearts.

Kansas Bob said...

The ideology really gets in the way.. it shields us from reality and often causes us to put lipstick on bad behavior. So often that ideology really becomes part of the problem.. especially when it is religiously based.

Thanks for sharing so transparently Julie.. we are all pulling for you.. we all care about you.. we are all hoping for great things for you.

With love from your much older brother :)

musingwoman said...

I love you, friend. I'm always here if you need a shoulder.

jo(e) said...

I admire the way you are handling all of this.

Susanne Barrett said...

Loving you and praying for beauty, realness, and great healing to come from the ashes. Praying for the kids, too. You are a tremendously incredible woman and mother, even if you don't feel like it right now. ((((Julie))))

julieunplugged said...

Bob, what a great blog entry. So fitting with my thoughts today. (And you are not all that much older, bro [g]).

Thanks to all of you for your care. One day at a time!

Dalissa McEwen Reeder said...

Glad you finally shared. It's hard to keep things in the dark. Anyhoo, that goal that you created as a child of divorce was the same goal I had for myself, too. And, in some ways I guess I had to let go of that expectation/goal in order for things to improve. So, here's hoping for that rebirth. Always here for you... xoxoxo

thechurchgeek said...

Julie, thanks for sharing; you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Julie Evans said...

I love you, Julie! So glad our lives have intersected because it really is a lovely connection. You are lovely; I am blessed.

Will said...

Julie,
You are wise, strong and thoughtful. You will find your true place. Love to you.
Kay

debbie p said...

I think you are very brave. I'm praying for you and for Jon and the kids. I love you.

Heidi Renee said...

Holding you all in the light, thanks for your transparency. I too am a bit of an emotional exhibitionist, so I feel your pain in not being able to process this on your blog.

carrie said...

I understand the reluctance to bare your private life. It's tough.

You are never far from my thoughts.

Sandy said...

((Julie)) Love you! Praying for you all. <3

Keren said...

Ah Julie, I feel your pain. I'm divorced, and made the decision to leave him after I couldn't take any more physical and emotional abuse. But it tore my soul apart because it tore my family apart - my fundamentalist Christian parents stopped speaking to me for a couple of years because I refused to try again.

I had one lady march up to me and ask me if I understood the decision I had made, and she hoped I hadn't made it lightheartedly...!!!! Nobody ever gets divorced on a whim. It takes so much guts, and it's just not fun.

Thinking of you. (((hug)))

timvictor said...

Julie,

Thanks for sharing. Divorce is really painful. It takes someone truly brave to honestly and openly work through it with sensitivity and respect.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jon and the kids.

Watchman said...

Julie

If you are able, I would be interested to hear more of this story, and I believe others would as well. Usually stories like this are told from the other side, long after the grief is over and not in the midst of the valley. Its why I think the Psalms read like they do.

I'm curious to know when or if you saw this coming. Its interesting to me to see others my age, from active faith backgrounds, whose marriage has has scraped bottom. I for one have hit issues in mine that I have no clue how to approach or deal with. I was not given much by leaders of my past to even be aware. So I grope in the dark for direction.

Again, sorry to hear this news

ks

Colleen said...

I understand. You know that. I also love and admire and respect and just plain like you, and I hope you know that, too.

xoxoxo

julieunplugged said...

Thanks everyone for your love and generosity to me.

Watchman, I will likely share as I feel I can on the blog. It helps me to process too. I have to be careful about how much and what I share since I don't want this to turn into an examination of our particular dynamic.

Still, there's so much learning that comes from "breaking your own narrative" (as Bruce Springsteen says). And as I can and feel moved to, I will share. Thanks for the encouragement.

SiouxsieQ said...

Julie, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I am sorry you are going through such pain and I do pray for healing.

Salam said...

I never knew the dusk could seem so sad,
an empty aching in my soul.
In this bright hour I speak your name in the wind,
the shining world outlasts us all.

Even the mountains seem to know you're gone,
the foothills shimmer where they stand.
The sky is still and much too beautiful,
and I am missing you again.

Lift me over the San Gabriels, leaning into the southern sky.
The foothills burning in the afterglow, an angel fire passing by.

I think of songs I might have sung to you,
the love I wanted you to hear.
Everytime the blazing sun goes down,
another promise disappears.

I never knew the dusk could break my heart,
so much longing folding in,
I'd give years away to have you here,
to know I can't lose you again.

Lift me over the San Gabriels, leaning into the southern sky.
A flight of angels must be in the wind,
I know they'll pass this way tonight.

Help me remember the San Gabriels, the foothills burning in the light.
Let my heart rise up to where you are, I long to be with you tonight.

I long to be with you tonight, I long to be with you tonight

julieunplugged said...

Fernando Ortega. One of my favorites songs of his... t/y salam. <3

Sheila Lamb said...

Great post, Julie. It is not an easy process, and I don't know anyone who has been through it who thought that it was.

Davis said...

Julie, I've already sent you a message, but wanted to say here that after 29 years my partner and I are still wonderfully happy and committed, but each of us knows what it is to loose a partnership. It is heartbreaking.

While I cannot imagine separating from my dear man, I do know the tenderness - the fragility of shared lives.

God bless all of you as you go through this.