To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Love Did Not Win for Me

As the history making ruling came down from the US Supreme Court that gay marriage was now legal, I was outside a courtroom waiting and watching as my lawyer walked back to me from where she had conferred with his lawyer, and his lawyer walked back to him, where he was sitting about 200 feet down the hallway from me. Back and forth we had gone through our lawyers, about four rounds, trying to find common ground and create a separation agreement so that we can divorce. After all, it has been a long and painful two years since we have separated. I was getting angrier and angrier with each confab as I gave up more and more, and felt less and less protected by the law. My intentions for the day, as stated in a Facebook status update the day before, had been to “stay calm, detached from the outcome, and grounded in believing that everything happens for my greater good.” I lost that perspective about two hours in.

In the statement released when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of gay marriage on June 26, 2015, Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority: "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Marriage might symbolize ideals, but of the five that Justice Kennedy named, for so many of us, those ideals have been destroyed by the acts of the one human being we trusted more than anyone. And now we are, as he put it, “condemned to live in loneliness.” 

As someone who supports gay rights, including the right to marry, and who would have been thrilled any other day, all I could think when I read the news was, I hope that the 50% of you who end up divorcing enjoy that emotional hell and financial destruction your civil fight has now won you: gay marriage will ultimately lead to gay divorce, or as it should be known, marriage sometimes leads to divorce. The lawyers must be thrilled that an entire new clientele has been offered to them on a silver platter. 

I felt ashamed of myself for such spite in the face of their joyous celebration, something I would have shared any other day, and at the same time I felt righteous in my indignation that as millions of people around the world celebrated love and marriage and the ideals they represented, I had to face the ugliness of what a dead marriage devoid of any care, compassion or humanity creates. There cannot be anything uglier than two people who once had “become something greater than once they were,” fighting over money and property. If I were to guess, his motivation to fight is ego and anger, for me it is fairness and survival; there is no love in any of that. The only one by my side fighting for my civil rights or constitutional freedoms was the lawyer I was paying, the one who kept advising me to “let it go, you aren’t going to get that.”

The negotiations were a brutal process of conceding this, giving up that, lowering my ask on the other, trying desperately to get an agreement I could live with. I felt invisible and insignificant in the eyes of the court. There was no fairness as far as I could tell. 

Despite the fact that we live in a “no-fault” jurisdiction regarding divorce, and not a mention of his adultery came up in court yesterday, the Judge commented that the allegations of a gambling addiction would surely be impactful in a court case. So much for me taking the high road while his lawyer slings mud in my face. The Judge even went so far as to comment on the viability of me making a livable wage in the future as a writer. Nothing seemed to be off the table as far as I was concerned, and he seemed to be coated in teflon. 

Driving home, the hateful words of my mother that I have fought against my entire life rang true in my head: you can’t trust men, they will only use you, and you can’t rely on anyone but yourself. The entire mess my life is in and the reason for the bitter fighting comes down to one decision I made: trusting that my ex would support me after I retired from one career to build another. I never got the chance; he left me five weeks after I gave my retirement notice, before the money had even come in. I am now using my retirement money to pay for my lawyer. 

That day three different men made my life a living hell. I felt so angry and bitter that all the work I had done to recover from his betrayal wasn’t enough; I was reduced to feeling so much general hatred, and self-pity, and betrayal all over again. I did what I never wanted to do again, I was back to lumping all men into the same category of philanderer’s, power and control freaks, and misogynists. I have worked so hard to change the narrative in my head about men, but back that sick song came full volume.    

I have lost faith. I couldn’t even pray that night because I felt that God and the Universe had abandoned me. I failed to see how this financial and emotional torture was in my best interest, which was all I could really say instead of my normal prayers to keep my heart open, watch over the people I love, which normally includes my ex, and let me bring light to others. I have no light to give, no inspiration to offer, no love in me.  

Sometime very late that night it occurred to me that I had entered the “dark night of the soul” for those who know the hero’s journey. I have no compassion or love in me. I have no kindness or strength. What I have is everything I have worked so hard to inoculate myself against: bitterness, anger, loathing, fear, distrust, and feeling forsaken, powerless, used and unworthy. I feel like I have moved backwards two years to the weeks after he left me. 

How did three hours in a court setting dealing with lawyers, hearing the Judge basically validate his bad behaviour while telling me mine was going to be on display during a trial, and having to face my ex for the first time in almost two years destroy all the work I have done since the separation? Why did that experience single-handedly unglue me and set me back into such a dark place that I was deleting people off Facebook, swearing I would never marry again, and not even able to muster the strength to fake a belief in love when talking to my son?

As I tried to distract myself with social media that night, everyone was posting #‎LoveWins in reaction to the Supreme Court decision. And that just fuelled the anger and pity and rage in me. Love doesn’t win, love isn’t enough, and all the love I have been working so hard to muster, promote, praise and hang onto in the last year has forsaken me. There is no love that I have ever known in my life that has won. 

I also saw a few postings that said the moral arc of the Universe bends to justice. I am familiar with this concept. For me, yesterday, there was no justice. For many of us, of both sexes, who are going through child custody battles, an ugly divorce, who have lost a family member to violence and hatred, who live in an American town gripped by racial tension and police oppression, or who live in a terrorist or war torn country, it seems God has forsaken us and there will be no justice. Perhaps that is what the LGBTQ community has thought and felt all these years. 

How can I heal myself and drag my sorry ass out of the pit of helplessness, hopelessness, self-pity, and rage, when I have lost the beacon that illuminated the shadows? If I don’t believe in love, and the Universe and God loving me deeply, I don’t believe in anything. 

Since I got home I have bawled deep gut wracking sobs of grief for what I have lost that will never be mine again, screamed out my anger at the unfairness of it all, and hurt my hand from hitting the wall in frustration, but I am not yet able to talk to anyone about the experience. I haven’t talked to another human being except my son in over two days, and I don’t know when I will be ready to face people again. I write instead, trying to process what happened and why I slipped into the pit so easily. 

I searched TED talks for salvation and inspiration using phrases such as dark night of the soul, healing yourself, anger, betrayal, love and marriage. 

Writer Andrew Solomon, from his TED talk Love, No Matter What: “There are people who think that the existence of my family somehow undermines or weakens or damages their family. And, there are people who think that families like mine shouldn’t be allowed to exist. And I don’t accept subtractive models of love; only additive one’s. And I believe that in the same way that we need species diversity to ensure that the planet can go on, so we need this diversity of affection and diversity of family in order to strengthen the ecosphere of kindness.”  

I lost my family and there is no affection in my life. How am I supposed to muster kindness for others? I hope this is just a reactionary pit-stop in the trajectory of my life; I don’t want to be a dark, fearful, miserable, closed-off shell of a human being for very long; I don’t like myself right now. 

Psychologist Guy Winch, in his TED talk Why We All Need To Practise Emotional First Aid, speaks about the favouritism we give our physical pain over emotional pain. We don’t tell someone with a broken leg to walk it off, so why do we think we can “shake off” our loneliness or depression? The problems with psychological wounds are that they distort our perceptions and mislead us, and Dr. Winch knows how hard it is to change our minds once we have been convinced of something. He reminds me that I must fight helplessness and not trust my mind when my self-esteem is battered. 

I am relieved and grateful for the future of humanity now that the United States is finally getting on board with equality, because that has been the core of the conversation all along hasn’t it? That all people deserve the freedom to choose how to live their life, no matter their sexuality, race, gender etc? The win has nothing to do with marriage per se, it is the ability to be the captain of your own ship and make the choices we deem important to ourselves.

That was missing for me in court, having any ownership of my future.