I’ve recently experienced a vocabulary explosion…and not in a good way.
Words like conservatorship, custodial parent, and ‘pursuant to’ now pepper my everyday conversations with my family. In a month’s time, I’ve learned more legalese, formal double-talk, and implicitly implied terms than I’ve ever come across.
And it’s not because I’m prepping for the LSAT.
Or binge-watching Judge Judy, Joe, or Mathis.
Or even gathering my resources to fight a traffic ticket.
It’s much sadder and life altering than any of those simple explanations: My brother and sister-in-law are getting divorced. Just typing it looks so foreign. So other people’s problem-ish.
Not surprisingly, the fallout has ranged from the benign to the malicious. Crazy, ‘could-I-have-tried-harder?’ doubts ride up against ‘well, if-that’s-the-way-he/she’s-playing-it’ spiteful tactics. Welfare for the kids has always remained the undeniable top priority, but that’s not to say they haven’t occasionally been used as collateral in offsetting attorneys’ briefs.
In an accelerated emotional gutting over the last six weeks, all of us close to them have coursed through the five stages of grief over the death of their partnership.
Denial and isolation? Yep.
Anger? Big time.
Bargaining? With them, attorneys, and most certainly God.
Depression has reared its ugly head on a regular basis and finally, acceptance is like a moving target that seems sane and sensible one moment, stupid and selfish the next. I can’t help but think that if I’m reeling from this overwhelming cocktail of emotions as a member of the supporting cast, then the intensity the main characters are wrestling with must be downright crushing.
In the few brief moments when, as a family, we’ve been able to put our emotional investment in this 10-year partnership aside, what has been so sobering is the finality of it all—the sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, end of something we thought would last forever. On so many levels, it has become painfully clear that this is infinitely more than just the division of a household (though curiously, the Keurig and Vitamix blender have suddenly become uber premium possessions in the hierarchy of appliances).
It’s the division of a lifestyle, a family, a life.
When the dust settles, there will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment as a new “normal” is established. It will take some getting used to, for sure, but we’ll make the necessary adjustments as the days pass and eventually we’ll all settle in. We’ll have to plan ahead for holiday celebrations, the kids’ birthdays, and weekend cookouts. And I know, especially in the beginning, it won’t just be the number of burgers we fix that will be different. So will the tone and tenor of the get-togethers.
It will feel like something is missing because it will be.
It’s sad and tragic and has such far, far-reaching consequences, that none of us can begin to process what this time next year looks like. It’s a hurdle we didn’t see coming and wouldn’t wish upon another soul. And, a thousand times over, I wish this wasn’t our new reality.
But it is.
And we’ll rally.
And we’ll all arrive at the final stage of acceptance on our own timetables and go on from there, making mental and emotional adjustments as needed. In the meantime, we’ll work to squelch the fears and doubts and worries of tomorrow and clumsily hang on to each other and our faith.
And though I’m no fortune teller and my crystal ball is in the shop, I’m relatively confident of one endgame result: in all our dysfunctional glory, we’ll love each other with a renewed appreciation for what is now and what we have in each other.
Am I the only one who’s seen, felt, heard, EXPERIENCED the fallout of a divorce? What? You, too?
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net