I went to the courthouse with my stack of documents and I did it.
I filed for divorce.
Last week I met with an attorney I found through the LA Bar Association. He was older and kind, and we went over the forms I had already filled out.
The good: Free legal advice and direction.
The bad: He wouldn’t represent me.
The sad: He wouldn’t represent me because his retainer was $3,000 and I think he felt bad about asking that much of me.
The inspirational: He thought I should be a legal secretary because I have the chops for it as demonstrated by my preparation and understanding of his explanations.
I had always planned to file for my divorce on my own but the love of family means I get their wisdom from their own experience. I was consulting an attorney out of fear because mistakes happen and when I arrived I was intentionally receptive and ended up with free legal advice. I left his office feeling confident again.
I love what I do for work. I’m passionate about it and I love learning more. My job pays me like they don’t need me to stay because they don’t seem to value the training already invested. This meeting prompted me to really consider the direction I should be shaping my career into. At the same time, being undervalued means I qualified for the fee waiver. Yay for fighting with that poverty line!
I walked out of that courthouse with the weight of the past two years lifted.
It’s been over 20 months since March 11, 2015 when I was told my marriage was over. There was no warning and I was in shock . . . but 20 months? The time has become a toddler. I’ve gone from a crying mess on the floor unable to care for myself, to a toddler that doesn’t know when something might be out of reach. I can see it so it must be meant for me, right?
I walked to my car feeling free and beautiful and courageous. This joy carried me through my day where my news to a couple of co-workers was met with high fives and concerns of “are you okay?” I am great.
It became a day of celebration and that looks a lot like self care. Is it possible that self care is just a personal celebration? It felt like it. In the last couple of months I have gotten to a place where the mani/pedi’s have slowed down. It’s about responsibility and that looks a lot less frivolous.
I had a breakfast of mojo potatoes smothered in nacho cheese and bacon. Lunch was albondigas soup. Dinner was Squash soup with a dessert of creme brulee. It was epic food joy all day and a celebration of who I am with every single bite.
Mr. Marcel on the 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica
I stopped at the Pandora store and asked for a divorce charm. They don’t make those. They should. I thought about the 16 with a circle around it. It was 16 years of marriage and now I’m embarking on a new adulthood. In the end, I decided on an angel wing because I was flying high and loving the freedom I was walking in.
I walked back to the pier with this song:
On repeat. I stood on the pier with icy wind blowing consistently at me. It was strong enough that my hair was uplifted and held away from my face. It was a cool caress and I remembered the night my tribe lifted me high above their shoulders … when I had given up my pride and stepped into vulnerability, being seen and receiving their support when I stretched beyond my comfort but did not break. I heard the crashing waves and I was moved by the emotion of knowing that once again I was being stretched, and I would not break.
I kept the news primarily to myself. I didn’t warn anyone of what I was planning all week. I didn’t even tell my siblings until the next day. We all knew this was coming, but I wanted it to be a solitary journey. I only told two people that know my ex, and while I didn’t get a response on a voicemail I left, I did get encouragement in the form of a message from a great friend. He announced a pregnancy with his his wife, and I messaged him my congratulations with my news. He said, “Sorry about the divorce but it’s for the best. We both begin new chapters.”
I filed for divorce and it wasn’t in anger or pain. I filed and it wasn’t at a time when I was dating anyone or falling in love. It’s not about another person in my life. True story: I realized without a doubt I was being catfished Monday. Tuesday I was online dating again, embracing whatever that looks like. I decided to take the good to grow from, and the bad becomes an Instagram share for laughs. Bring on those dick pics and prepare for my snark. Wednesday I set up a coffee date for after work at 6:30 and a different one for 9. It was just a meet and greet, yet I was stood up by both. Dating sucks, but it can’t be worse than staying in a dead marriage. I’m ready to embrace my freedom. Thursday morning I filed for my divorce. I filed for divorce and it was a moment to take back my independence and it felt like freedom. I don’t feel like a victim to his decision anymore.
I walked from the Promenade back to the pier, and I could hear a man on a bar patio trying to get my attention by yelling loudly enough through my blasting ear buds so I could hear his appreciation of my walk and I kept going because this day wasn’t going to be marked by meeting anyone else. Imagine this: My gray and pink CSULA hoodie, bootleg jeans, Ugg boots, and still I still walk in a way to turn heads. This day was all about me. This was one of the best days to be me. I felt so alive.
The next day dawns beautifully and I spend it practicing writing my name again, like you do when you fall in love with a new person, but I’ve known me my whole life, and this name is one I was born into. I can’t get my signature to look like it used to look because my hands are no longer the hands that used to write it. I’ve grown in ways and changed in ways and my signature cannot be the same because I am not the same. Is it possible to be who you were but not who you were because the old you is gone and you’re a new person?
I vaguely wonder if I should check out where his copy of our divorce papers are through the online tracker. I wonder when he will be served because the sheriff will do it for me, but they have a few weeks to get the job done and I decide to enjoy this space I’m in. I text my siblings and was received in love. I reach out and talk to more friends. I’m greeted with hugs and high fives and congratulations as if my child has just been born but there are no tears or fluids or blood. It’s clinical in its neatness.
My kids return home and I get to face transition day energy shifts. I debated telling them about the filing. They knew it was coming, but do I tell them it’s started? I get to share my joy in a way that will shatter the hope of their yesterday as minimally as possible, but I know the devastation. I’ve lived through what I’m doing to them. In the end, I realized the sheriff’s are serving him and I have no idea when that will happen. I don’t want them freaked out, so I explained what was happening, waiting for things to dissolve into tears. They accepted it. They took it matter of factly, and were back to telling me about their days and the things they want. Kid1 was angry toward Kid2 who was in a loud nirvana and Kid2 was fighting it out with Kid3. It could have been my news. It could have been the transition and the fact that each one is a boy and that’s what boys do. Either way, I’m present and we’re listening to each other. It’s a good space to be in.
We had a physical day of exercise and feelings came up and I gave space for them to come out. The boys are feeling the pain I expected, and being present is all I can do. I realize the weight of my news in terms of being with their Dad, knowing details and him not knowing them. I don’t want them to feel like they’re keeping secrets, so I tell him what I’ve done so they don’t feel they have to. This was met with gratitude from the kids, and a better reaction from the ex than I expected.
When things first started shifting beneath me, my sister told me I’m stronger than I know and I get it now. I feel it now.