Those of you who have gone through the “new relationship” thing with a divorced/divorcing fellah know about the Horrible Heffalump – that would be the scary ex-wife, who rightly or wrongly, feels wronged or righted from the marriage and its breakdown. It’s not easy for anyone in the whole marriage breakdown thing, and I urge any of you who are contemplating leaving a marriage to seriously think it over (unless you are being abused, of course, in which case get outta there!). It does suck, and not like a Bissell. For everyone.
Divorce/separation reminds you that the two of you were barely managing on the money that was coming in and you were sharing phone and cable and electricity and even heating. It reminds you of how much easier dividing and conquering your own personal GOH was when you were talking easily to each other and not biting off each other’s heads. It reminds you of the joys of shared household duties and how lovely it was to ask your spouse to get a thing of milk and then have it appear mystically in the fridge. It reminds you of the awfulness of waking alone at 3 AM, worrying about the future or the crack in the foundation or why your youngest insists on sleeping with his construction tools or who is going to chip the ice off the driveway, versus having someone in the bed with you who you could either cuddle or throw things at (if snoring).
It reminds you that over half of your lovely things now live far away, and those are always the things you really need, right NOW. Finding screwdrivers is easier, since they stay where you put them, but on the other hand, if you can’t find them, you’ve no one to blame but yourself. This is harsh.
And then there’s the recycling. I hate recycling, and I remain suspicious this is one of those “keep the people quiet thinking they are being a help” ruses to encourage more consumption since you can now recycle those packages. Or maybe I’m just fed up with trying to figure out the byzantine rules. When I was married, I let my ex handle it. He hated it, too, but I could make him deal with it and forget it. Now I have to read all the rules, look at the bottom of the plastic bottles, figure out the cans. It’s almost enough to send me running back to him, but alas, while I’ve been gone another woman has snagged his prodigious sorting capabilities.
It just isn’t easy.
Some people seem to really get into the making it as horrible as possible thing, though. I mean, the marriage ends, it’s tragic, of course you’ve tried to patch it together, etc., but it fails. What’s the point in making each other’s lives hell? Hatred and anger damages most the person expending it (believe me, I know). I’ve always felt the best revenge is living well, and when I was feeling better and dating like a mad fool, I felt such total power over my ex just because my life was so much better through the sheer effect of living separate from him. Unfortunately the gods listened, and just like when I used to think I skated well, they threw me to the ground. But wotthehell, toujours gai, as Mehitabel the Cat would say. I still can’t see the infliction of pain on him as a winning strategy. After all, I loved the guy once, and we have shared history, some good, some not so good.
But there are other people, the HH for one, who seems to delight in making her ex wriggle. I’ve met women and men like this, who deny their ex the basic needs of life, who argue over every last visit, who even devolve to flinging appalling insinuations about abuse of all sorts to prevent child access. It’s wrong, it’s evil. It arises from the deep deep hurt of having this closest of relationships melt away, of having the life you planned dissolve before your eyes.
But looking at things, the fault in a marriage breakdown is always shared. There are no angels, no devils in a relationship – at least until the end of marriage arguments start. (Again, abuse is always wrong and should be punished, totally). One half of the partnership might be more involved than the other, but both contribute to a marriages failure, or success. It takes time to realize this, of course. It’s ever so much easier to paint the other as THE PROBLEM, rather than look into your own soul and see the nastiness squirming there. But, hey, if you have kids, it is the most important thing to act reasonably, respectfully, while inside your heart is breaking. They will always need you both.
It makes me sad. And grateful. For my lovely ex, with whom I do have my snappish thoughts, has always treated me with respect. He’s a gem among men, and I wish him well in his new marriage. I can’t live with him anymore, but I’m sure she can, and I’m so thankful he didn’t become the horrible Heffalump he coulda been. Well, except maybe sometimes…;-)
Thanks, D. And good luck to all of you who are dealing with HHs of your own who can’t see that the result of (relatively) sane children and an easy friendship is the best outcome of a destroyed marriage anyone could wish for.