Saturday, 15 September 2012

Part II: Where is my anger (or: Am I for real?)?

For the life of me, I can’t find my Stacy Morrison book entitled Falling apart in one piece: Oneoptimist’s journey through the hell of divorce. She tells the story of how, in frustration one day, her sister-in-law asked her where her anger was. How come she was anything but totally outraged by the fact that her husband woke up one day, and, for no clear reason under the sun, decided he was ‘done.’ Some parts of the comment from the anonymous visitor in Part I make me feel almost as if I’m being asked the same question.

Am I for real?

Ha ha ha – I really did have to laugh at that question!! I certainly hope I am!

I’m trying to ‘get in touch with’ my anger as I write this – just so I have something to write here.

Where is my anger hiding?

Among the gamut of emotions I have gone through over the last few years, anger has never seemed to make it to the top five. I don’t have a complete sense of why, but I realize that its absence has the effect of making me appear almost ‘angelic’ (this anonymous visitor is not the first to use the term, frankly), when in reality, I’m anything but.

In sifting through my memories and cracking my brain, I can only remember one scene in which I starred as the angry lead.

I hadn’t had much to say in months. And then, I had to go home for a memorial event in honor of my father. After that, I spent the next three days or so travelling from city to city at a frenetic pace, trying to ensure I saw my mother-in-law and other in-laws before I left the country again. It has just occurred to me that we were still legally married at this time, although it didn’t feel like it. He and his brothers made sure they personally chauffeured me around from State to State (bless their hearts).

Maybe it was the combination of being on the road and in a different city every day, and the emotional stress of attending this memorial event. On my last day, I just flipped and went all ‘mental’ and ‘gangsta’ on everybody. I felt seriously provoked by his attempt to cover up his real feelings with deceit and a show of cockiness.

Do you think this is a joke? I yelled, not caring who heard. Do you mean she hasn’t told you she’s HIV-positive? You’d better go get yourself tested and put this charade aside!

He and his brother stared back at me – his brother, in utter shock, and him … well, I couldn’t read his expression clearly.

You know what? I continued, wanting badly to hit below the belt. My father wasn’t a perfect man. So why d’you think everybody is so torn up by his death? Why do you think people travelled from far and near after all this time to honor him? I’ll tell you why: he wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a principled man. He was an honest man, I spat at him while he walked out in annoyance for a few seconds. As he walked back in, I turned to his brother and said pointedly in a dangerously quiet tone: The last time I slept with your brother was in February 2008. I will NEVER sleep with your brother again.

My poor brother-in-law stood in the middle of the room staring helplessly at me, not sure whether to be embarrassed, sympathetic, or upset. None of my in-laws had ever heard so much as a peep out of me before, and they didn’t know what to make of this ugly, livid creature. They were used to a woman that smiled and laughed and joked all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever talked as much in my life as I talked that day. I needed to get it all out and I did just that.

My sister-in-law – an extremely quiet, discreet woman – later leaned next to me for a quick moment and said under her breath: Don’t sleep with him again O. The weight of her words didn’t strike me until I was gone. She saw him more than I did, so she knew what she meant. I took her advice seriously.

Long story short: have I had an angry moment or two? Absolutely. Could I be more outraged over the turn of events? Absolutely.

And if I’m not, then there are several good reasons why.

First, I was in a weak, sick, dysfunctional marriage, and so I was more inclined to embrace the chance to live healthier – even if it meant I would no longer be married. Why be perpetually angry over what could very well turn out to be a new lease on life?

Second, I honestly feel I have so much to be grateful for that living in anger really seems pointless. I’m writing this on a plane and, as I usually do on airplanes, I’ve spent some time watching a movie. The first time I watched Kramer vs. Kramer, I was seven years old and I watched it with my father. All these years later, it remains a timeless classic – as poignant now as it was then. It reminded me of the fact that I got a divorce with absolutely no custody battle. Now, if that’s not something to rejoice over, then I don’t know what is. I walked away with my everyday life intact and with my children to share it with me.

I don’t receive spousal support, but I don’t have to pay any, either. Not every woman in my position is this fortunate. I don’t get spousal/child support and I did not ask for any. I didn’t want a big fight; I just wanted to be able to move on peacefully. I’m also convinced that no matter what is or isn’t written down on paper, a real father will be concerned about and want to contribute toward his children’s upkeep. And at some point, I had to accept reality: my children’s father was either ‘real’ or not, and whichever he was, my children would not suffer. It would be nice to have this sort of support for my children, but I do not need it. My life and the children’s lives have not changed without it, and that is a super-duper blessing, if you ask me.

I don’t have to rearrange my children’s lives, nor mine, in any significant way because their father doesn’t live here. We are all spared the agony of having to shuttle the children back and forth between two homes.  Another reason not to be angry.

I would definitely have been devastated had I been a stay-at-home mom (which I was once) when all of this happened. I’m thankful that it happened at a point in my life when I could make a particular decision because I wanted to, rather than being compelled to make a different decision for financial reasons. Few women are that fortunate. I could go on and on and on ... but you get my drift.

Third: because this blog focuses on divorce, it is hard for an outsider looking in to have a sense of the good side of my former spouse. As an insider, I’m privy to the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ aspects of this failed union, but also to the ‘good.’ In earlier years, the positive aspects of my ex-husband’s character actually convinced me that I was ‘marrying up.’ It’s unfortunate that the ‘good’ wasn’t enough to overwhelm the other aspects. The stark contrast between what was then and what is now persuades me that something is not quite ‘right.’ But whatever that ‘something’ is, I finally had to accept that as much as I once wanted to and tried to, it was not my job to remedy it. It was his.

Fourth and finally: If I’m going to spend my life angry at him, then I necessarily have to spend my life angry at myself, too. Did he do a lot of things that I’d like to strangle him for? Sure. But out of all the people in the world, out of all of my suitors, I chose him. To be fair, I should also be angry at myself for not making a different choice, for not being wise enough, for not putting myself in a position to be wiser, etc., etc., etc.

The problem is that I don’t have the wherewithal to beat myself up forever ... and I’m certainly not going to spend that amount of energy doing this to someone else. 


  1. Love this post for its sincerity especially your 4th point.It is very difficult to find ourselves culpable when we start the blame game. Its much easier to name and shame others, when if only we looked a little closer, we would find that we sometimes had a part to play.

    1. It is difficult, but yes, I certainly am not innocent. My complacency in marriage was lethal, and I can look back now and recognize that.