I’ve been downloading statements lately. Loan statements, bank statements, assets and liabilities. Which is better than last year this time when I was collecting up another kind of statement altogether, statements scribbled on the backs on envelopes and typed furiously into emails and texts. Statements that showed someone’s state of mind and fitness to guide sweet little souls through this fallen world and raise them up to be joyful and kind and all the other things we ought to want for our children, for all children. Phase 1: high conflict custody battle Phase 2: high conflict divorce.
You have to wait a year in Pennsylvania before you can divorce your husband if he doesn’t you to. It used to be two years but somewhere along the way someone decided you really only ought to be trapped in an unwanted marriage for 12 months instead of 24. Why not 15 or 6.5? Who knows. Who knows if the moon’s a balloon. Anyway, our one year was up in late September. I had filed the papers shortly before our family trip to Disney World (interesting way to experience Disney). We did not physically separate until November 22nd. But September is our official date of separation nonetheless.
The last step before the divorce is final is something called Equitable Distribution. Sounds kind of socialist, no? It’s actually quite capitalist, as it turns out. You have to figure out everything you as a couple had when you separated and everything you owed. You have to determine how much of your medical practice’s value is you and therefore not able to be allocated to both parties (beyond desks and computers and office kitchen microwaves, you must determine how much another doctor would pay to purchase your patient list. See? I told you this was all very capitalist). And then you have to figure out how to divide it up. We have a lot more debt than assets. Like, a lot. So it’s mainly seeing how much debt each of us pays off. We have a house that either one of has to buy off the other or we have to sell it. It’s not all that complicated for us. Not in the logistics anyway.
In other ways, it’s very complicated.
You may recall, dear reader, when I discussed the concept of a psychosocially complex patient (in this entry). My soon-to-be-ex-husband and I are having what I’d term a psychosocially complex divorce. High conflict divorce makes it sound like we’re screaming at each other across one of those long boardroom tables like an episode of LA Law where I’m a sketchy plastic surgeon who’s made a fortune selling a fat melting cream on infomercials and he’s the scorned husband fighting to get my fortune even though we all know what he really wants is his old wife back, the one who paid attention to him before she became big time news. That is not at all what our divorce is like.
Here is how it will go: my lawyer and I will gather my documents and come up with what we think is a fair proposal. The soon-to-be-ex-husband will counter with a nasty email to my lawyer and series of texts to me telling me divorcing him makes me a bad Christian, pleading with me to work this all out without involving lawyers, casually suggesting we just put this off 6 months before we finalize it, and a series of messages that alternate between contained rage covered with fake kindness and messages that are just openly rageful. As a bonus, there will likely be screaming eruptions in front of the kids at drop off and pick up. Oh, and let us not forget threats by him to take me for alimony. Because, ya know, it’s 1957. Maybe our divorce really would fit in on LA Law.
I’d like the divorce over with. It’s time. The kids and I had a return of our long haul COVID symptoms in October but have since recovered (I kind of discovered a cure for long haul COVID, but that’s another post altogether). I am finally feeling physically good for the first time in a very long time (I realize I’ve said that before but I really mean it this time). My practice was on the brink of collapse thanks to the whole worst-economic-downturn-since-the-Great-Depression thing but I got notice I’m getting a second PPP loan yesterday which means my practice will have a cushion to survive the next 6 months or so. My house is clean. My kids are doing chores and drinking water at dinner and taking showers without arguing with me. My laundry is kept up on. My office files are finally alphabetized. I’m reading novels and binge watching Hulu. Yeah, I’m feeling *that* good, guys. I’m starting a reasonable post-COVID exercise routine and eating healthy. I’m planning out running The Beast on the Bay in September and section hiking the Appalachian Trail (slowly. like, it will likely take me 20 years to complete kind of slowly). I’m volunteering with an Appalachian advocacy group working to bring green jobs to Appalachia.
I know, I know, I’ve said this before. And maybe it will all come crashing down again. But I’m hopeful. I’m finally standing on my own two feet and running my own home and my own practice. Taking care of my physical and mental health. Adulting like a champ. I feel like I will finally get to do some of the things I should have been doing in my twenties, the things well adjusted people do in their twenties. When you should be on your own for the first time like I am now. When you leave the nest and have some time to be yourself on your own before you get married and have kids and a consuming career and all that. And, no, I don’t mean I’m ditching my kids, quitting medicine and running off to work in a coffee shop near campus where I can pick up 21 year old guys and smoke weed and talk about … whatever Generation Z talks about. I mean I’m going to work on my house and take up hobbies and meet people within those various hobbies (hopefully), and do some solo traveling once the world opens back up. I’m going to settle into me. And enjoy me.
My bedroom is finally clutter free for the first time since we moved in. And for the first time in my life, actually. I have the furniture and the bedspread I picked out. There is a TV on the wall and a Peleton in the closet. A sealed fireplace with candles in it. Novels on my nightstand. Windows with a view of my oak tree lined All American street. I do not allow my soon-to-be-ex-husband to pick the kids up or drop them off here. It is our space and he is not allowed, not even on the street in front I see so clearly from my bedroom window. It makes him so damn angry. Angry because this is his way: to get an inch from you and stretch it into a mile. But I will hold the line, airtight boundaries. There is just too much to lose. Because there is nothing equitable about divorcing a narcissist. And if you think there is, you, my darling, will never get away and find your way to a beautiful bed in a wonderful old house in a quaint neighborhood in a state that knows we all need 12 months to be sure we’ve had a glimpse of the wonderful life that awaits us when we are finally divorced.
who knows if the moon’s
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky–filled with pretty people?
( and if you and I shouldget into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
we’d go up higher with all the pretty peoplethan houses and steeples and clouds:
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,wherealways
in love and flowers pick themselves.