I had three hours to kill between dropping the dogs off at the groomer, and divorce support group, and I still managed to almost show up late.
I followed a handsome guy about my age into the airy home office of a local shrink. Dr. informed us stragglers that the reason for his running this group free of charge is that he’d relied on a similar group when going through his own divorce several years ago. He’s been running it for three years. On weekends.
(Note: it’s important that things said in support groups remain in confidence, so I’m going to combine some people and mix up some other people’s details, and I hope that’s sufficient. Please let me know if it’s still inappropriate somehow.)
I took a seat, anxiously, not sure how the ice would be broken and if we’d even make it to the part where I could tell this group of people how alone I feel, how big and empty the house is, how I feel like if I wasn’t so clingy I’d have never married the guy to begin with.
I had to do my self-introduction first, and my hands were shaking. I said I just got back to the U.S… and I want to turn around and head right back to Japan where I wasn’t alone. I said that I need to communicate as little as possible with J, because no good comes of it at all. And then we moved to the next person, and the next…
There were a few veterans, discernible both by the Dr. pointing them out, but also by their comparative acceptance of their situations, and self-assuredness. P., a … dare I say “ripped” ex-navy looking guy with a shaved head, who was going through a drawn out and horrendous sounding divorce, counseled the group by co-opting familiar language: “it gets better” (y’all).
Several of the women, ranging in age from a few years my senior to older than my mother, spoke of numerous affairs – that was by far the most common reason for these divorces. There were lies, there were bribes, and for everyone but me there were children involved, but in almost all cases there were a string of infidelities.
A beautiful woman with flawless dark chocolate skin, whose beauty made me think she was my own age (actually 10 years older), broke down in tears talking about being stuck in a city with no support system: no family, few friends, etc. Her tears were met with sympathetic murmurs and commiseration by many of us. I felt, for the first time in a long time: “this is a common kind of misery”.
But misery it still is.
I couldn’t stop looking at a pinata standing on a ledge far above our heads, in the vaulted ceiling. In my depression and deep sadness, I found the advice offered by others to go to the movies solo, to eat at restaurants solo, etc. to be tragic. I loathe being in those kinds of public places by myself. It makes everything worse for me, it really does.
After some tears and some ranting a fair-haired, WASPy looking young woman piped up and said “who’s in for lunch?” Most of us, the lonely and depressed, were down.
This is how I found myself at a Tex-mex restaurant drinking frozen margaritas at noon on a Saturday, with an enormously diverse group of women and men, all of us volleying around short rants peppered with “my ex”. A 65-yeat old woman with vibrant red lips and toes talked about behavior from hers that sounded annoyingly familiar: he coming along on a trip, becoming obsessed with money to the point where he ruined the entire experience by begrudging her even the money needed to get around the city and see the sights. Another woman talked about calling the husband of the woman her husband was sleeping with, telling him everything, and getting the brush-off. Seemed everyone had tried counseling but me; as the youngest I was also the one who had been least successful in getting “my ex” to see a counselor with me in the past.
A 40-something woman complained: “He couldn’t have run out on me when I was in my 20s? I’ll never get a date now.” I thought she was wrong; she looked to me fit and lovely, healthy and together. All of these people (but one, I’ll be honest) looked to be on top of their lives: fashionable clothes, pedicures, glowing skin, wry senses of humor.
I wondered what the exes really were like: I try to never form a (strong) opinion on a relationship of which I’m not a part, but I instinctively took our sides. I wondered what J would say if he came to this group, although he never would. Ever…
Someone spontaneously said that she wanted to go sky-diving. Then it seemed we all did. Seemed the right thing to do, to deal with feelings of being out of control, by deliberately, consciously relinquishing control.
Right now I am trying not to think too far into the future, because anything I can imagine right now features a terrified and alone me, increasingly desperate. So I try to think : “Saturday. Just get through Saturday.”
Apparently it’s easier with margaritas.
When I enter the house and see that he’s dropped off a case of the Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk that I like, I don’t know how to feel. But I do know what I think: “I only want you back because I want somebody, but if my fear of being alone was not so strong, I’d never have married you. So I have to learn not to be afraid before I can really be with anyone, even T” (who sent me drunken selfies of himself swinging on a hammock at a Tokyo roof-party “tonight”-Tokyo time).