11:13 PM, Sunday, May 1st, 2011:
If I consider myself an intelligent person, then I have to succumb to the fact that because I've been around divorces my entire life - it has lead me to accept my own a bit easier than most. I wouldn't say I was destined to get divorced, in fact I think I worked even harder because of them, but my end goal was always happiness, not length of time. I know several miserable people who have marriages counted in decades and the sad thing is, if they do finally split? All they can think of is the amount of time they wasted being unhappy. Because of some bizarre societal "norm" that says you are supposed to stay married no matter what. Abusers feed on the "norm" and can literally suck the life out of their mate. That was simply never going to be me. Was I influenced by divorce? Of course. But it didn't teach me to not work hard or to not be loyal, it taught me that the term "failed marriage" has nothing to do with if you're together or not.
However, you won't believe just how many divorces I've been through. Ready for this? Eight. I don't mean I knew of 8 couples that got divorced, I mean I dealt with the effects of these divorces first hand, intimately as a son, stepson, in-law and/or husband. They were incredibly traumatic and in all honesty has been the fabric of my existence. Get a load of this:
1) Mom and Dad - I was 7 and truth be told, my father was away so much on business it didn't register as too traumatic... until they were finally apart and visitation began. The whole "sides" feeling when you were with either parent got harder and harder as I got older. I vowed never to put a kid through it.
2) Dad and Stepmom - I was 12 and there was a step-brother involved. I remember my first emotion when hearing this was actually feeling badly for my father. Though it was pretty mutual, all I could think was "failure" and even my mom seemed upset by it. I got along with my step-brother, but since I only saw him during my visitation with my father the effect was less than had we lived together.
3) Dad and Stepmom 2 - This absolutely floored me. 6 months after my half-brother Kenny was born, she left and at 14 I was devastated for my father. It all broke the weekend that we were shooting "Slick Tracy" in 1990 and walking up the stairs my father also broke one of his two cameras. Christ, how do I remember this shit? Anyway, this one had long lasting effects because of Kenny and dealing with it for his entire life. When a child that young is involved, it is an open wound that doesn't heal very well. Very hard to witness. Drama at every stage of his life when dealing with the ex.
4) Mom and Stepdad - I was now 18 and this was a daily issue for me from 9-18. A dysfunctional relationship fueled by drugs and alcohol on his part masking who really was an intelligent likeable guy. When those influences weren't interfering, I can honestly say he had a massive influence on my ability to debate, reason... and my love of sports. <shrugs> I guess by this age I was accustomed to compartmentalizing people in my life and limiting my expectations to only what they could provide. I still see positives with him, but how he treated my mother was ridiculous and it was absolutely the right decision for him to leave. I cried a bunch for a myriad of reasons.
5) Burgundie's Parents - My first wife's parents divorced early in her life as well and while going through the split between my mother and Stepdad, visiting her father in Newark is a vivid memory for me. She didn't get along well with him, and I tried to bring them together. I was so close to Burgundie and we both had so many "divorce" issues that we kinda lived in each others' worlds to an almost unhealthy degree. We knew we wouldn't make the same mistakes. We held onto that so tight. As was the case with my parents, there was the whole "sides" issue with each one's opinion of the other dominating the conversations. Such a destructive, but entirely human pattern of divorce no matter how hard the other side tries not to. Unless the divorce is completely amicable, I don't see how to avoid it.
6) My divorce with Burgundie - You want tears? Holy balls. I have never been more shocked, and devastated... in fact? Ever. Wow. Could it be that at 21 I had my hardest personal moment even 15 years later? Might be. She only loved me as a "friend" and apologized profusely as her grandfather wrote up the paperwork for us to be divorced in record-time. It crushed me and the only thing that has lessened the pain is that we remained friends long enough for her to truly apologize for how everything went down. She has regrets, but when the hell am I ever single long enough to address them? LMAO. She's also been with a guy for 8 years and that's what, 3 marriages for me? Hah. We are good friends now and truth be told she was honest with me and didn't fuck around with it. No children involved, we were both very young... not a whole lot of negatives to go around when it pertains to this. Ahh to be naive again. ;-)
7) My divorce with Jess - No words can describe what is easily the longest story I've ever written. She is a dear friend to me that anyone who sees us together wonders how we ever imagined we'd be anything more. She is 100% home and so am I. It is to date the hardest decision I've ever made and has to be my proudest. For those who don't want to go through dozens of entries (or see the documentary next month), she came out to LA with me, we got married, and 4 years in it was clear she wasn't home. The more unhappy she was, the harder things got and we laid it all out on the table and knew that if either she stayed or I went back to Ohio with her one of us was gonna be miserable. We parted ways in an even that took about a year with constant second-guesses but the end result is her with a wonderful guy and a beautiful baby and I beam every time I'm near them. To say this marriage was a failure is to hold steadfast to a doctrine that values only quantity of years and ignores all quality. Our lives are happier because of this and again, no children involved.
8) My divorce with Donna - Destined for doom at every turn, this actually almost requires an asterisk as neither one of us wanted to get married. The threat of deportation made us choose the lesser of two evils, but once we were? I handed over my nervous system, and Donna all but lost hers. A tragic story with nearly a tragic ending that by the time she ranaway I rejoiced that she hadn't killed herself. Christ do you re-evaluate what "success" and "failure" means when you're faced with true life and death situations. The only positive however was that she was able to stay in this country and will see a better life because of that, 'cause personally the damage it did to me has taken years to sift through and truth be told will probably be with me for a lifetime. I've never given so much and received such abuse in return all in the name of keeping her safe. There won't be a friendship as I certainly remind her of her difficult past and can only hope that someday I get one of her infamous apology letters (she's given me several) when she actually understands what she put me through. Until then, I pray she has the capacity to giggle. Life really is remarkably easy when you let it be.
Strangely, what I went through last year with "asterisk" was more difficult than a couple of these examples but no matter what - divorce rings different than break-up. It's a stunning list that I'm not sure I can even process. But I can't shake the feeling that it isn't a bad thing. I almost feel like I'd make a great divorce coach. Because I absolutely understand the before, during, and after process of divorce. So intimately... and again, I don't see it as a negative thing.
I think it's because I have always had the belief that if you break down human relationships, the only purpose to them is to find where you fit. To find IF you fit. To find the levels you work on. You find them, and then you stay on those levels. If you find levels you don't work on? You avoid those levels. However being able to do that requires an extreme amount of self-awareness and understanding of who you are. In those 8 situations, I actually believe the people involved didn't fit... and it was wise to move on. And I always have to bring up Jess when I get to this place: we are now exactly the relationship we were always supposed to be. It's the most obvious and comfortable thing. Sure there are a handful of "What-ifs" (if we never moved to LA, if her family was closer) but those simply weren't options for us. We went through everything, we found ourselves and are now in the places we belong. It's a long process... but it's not a failed process if you end up apart. If you're presently miserable in your situation, you don't fit. You may be able to find ways to "live with" your situation, but in the end... you're probably just scared of the unknown.
Throw an asterisk in here if you have children of course. You can't possibly be that self-centered when children are involved and everything I just wrote came from the perspective of a man who has never had them. If we had kids, Burgundie and I would be together. If we had kids, Jess and I would be together. If we had kids, Donna would have still runaway and I would be raising them on my own - LMFAO. Sorry, but that's the muthafuckin truth. ;-)
I guess what I'm saying is... divorce is traumatic, it is difficult, it is usually the hardest thing you'll ever go through - but what it really is? Is self-awareness. It's usually something you've always known, but were scared of. Break-ups have flags as early as 10 minutes into the relationship. Sometimes we just don't know ourselves well enough to listen to them. Sometimes it finally hits us when we witness a birght light. A light so obvious that we look at ourselves and realize we're not happy. We're not even so-so. We've been ignoring the basic foundation of who we are by even being in the situation we're in. We've focused on everyone else, kept ourselves busy by work, and ignored what is so incredibly clear: we are our happiest moments, and we can have them every day. We are joy, we are laughter, we are intelligent, beautiful, attractive energies that co-exist in harmony with those same energies. It is soooo smooth when it is right. Life is soooo effortless when you're floating downstream with friends and family that love you. Drama should always come from outside that circle, not within. And when your daily existence is battling that drama from within? What exactly are you waiting for?
You are loved. You just gotta love yourself and jump.