Without delving too far into the details, I had to get married when I was 24. On January 3, 2004. It was not a fun experience. I never even picked up my very expensive wedding photographs.
I got the proofs. It was pretty wedding. I was a pretty bride. But I cried in the bathroom because D wouldn’t talk to me. At my wedding. D was drunk the whole night, even at the ceremony. And my parents were monsters and so were D’s. Both sets. I felt like a human pin ball for months before and after as I was pulled every which way trying to please everyone. I accept responsibility for the part I played in all of this. I tried to make peace with people who really enjoyed war.
The separation and divorce almost killed me. As soon as I had recovered from the last blow, a new one would hit me unawares and I’d have fresh hell to deal with. For over two years. My lawyer thought I was a flakey mess. He like D better than he liked me. Until I wrote him a letter telling him why he needed to fight for me and how this was all part of a bigger game in play that had been going on for 15 years. He respected me after that letter. And he told me I’d make a great divorce attorney. Except that he didn’t wish that on me. He said that I should think about writing. This was 2012.
What were these waves? D leaving me by packing his things in the middle of the night and moving them to an apartment close to bars so he could walk home drunk. It was a very Big Yellow Taxi moment. D telling me he was online dating a few months later at Xmas. And then the stories that would filter back to me. “I met the girl D is dating. I don’t like her.”
That was the beginning of a new phase of cruelty from people who approached with friendly faces pursed in concern and clad in sheep’s clothing. None of them liked her. They all had their reasons and they all wanted me to know them, down to the very nitty gritty. It took me a year to realize it was someone I’d grown up with. When I found out, I was looking for a house in Tucson. I ran to the downstairs bathroom of a place I was checking out and threw up. That was 2014.
Part of getting divorced is that people choose sides. It’s natural. I get it. But I had to then cull my own group of acquaintances because my threesome with D and his new girlfriend was incredibly incestuous. If you knew me, you probably knew her, and somehow I had to stop the feedback loop. I didn’t need to know the sundry details about her sex life in Nogales. I didn’t need to know anything at all. But it was cathartic…or sadomasochistic (column A/B sitch)…for everyone to share how much they hated her. It might sound odd. But maybe you’ve never had the particular pleasure of living in Nogales, Arizona, where people gorge on gossip like a modern day Peyton Place.
I hated her. But not for the reasons everyone else did. I went on a trip with her to South America for my 30th birthday along with Gigi and a grad school friend of Gigi’s. It was a big mistake. Two against one is bad. Three against one was insufferable. I’d call D and cry. I was a mess. And when I got sick half way through the trip, I was just a burden. Even after I took care of this messy girl when she grounded us in Rio with a stomach bug. I called them ‘bitches’ to their faces. And I never wanted to hear from or about them again.
From time to time, I’d find out what information she’d been sharing about me with family and friends. My mental health was a big topic. People I’d never talked to in my life would come up to me with intimate and patently wrong details about my life. And they felt all too ok calling me out in mixed company for things I’d never done. Worse things than I’d actually do. Their accusations covered a multitude of sins. It wasn’t their false nature, it was that any face in a crowd could step forward and proclaim, “J’accuse.” Scary for sure.
I don’t hate her now. I don’t hate anyone now. It took so much energy to participate in actively feeling anything about someone who I never had to interact with. The only thing I could do to remedy the situation was to stop talking to a lot of Nogales people. I didn’t want to hear anymore. My divorce was final. The legal ties were cut. It was time to put that misdirected pain to rest. It was time to forgive myself for being the monster I’d become too. I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you. That’s about all I can say about me and him and her at that time.
The biggest blessing I ever encountered in my life was to never have to run into D after the divorce. There were a few close calls. Someone would come up to me and tell me that he was in the vicinity. I once asked someone to walk out of the Fox Theater with me because she’d told me that they were in the balcony. She said ‘no’ because she was friends with both of us. I didn’t need someone to be my second in a duel. I needed someone to help me from collapsing from terror. In the end it was really that bad. He scared me to death. But that was a long time ago.
Last year I went to a Vandals show at Rillito Park with Jon, my secret friend that no one else knows and I like it that way. A friend came up to me and said, “D is here, he looks old. He’s wearing blah blah blah and a baseball cap…do you want me to hang out with you?”
It was kindness given to me years after I’d stopped needing it. By 2019, I knew that if D and I were walking down the same street, it’d be up to him to move over. I was done playing chicken. He no longer owned me and I was really ok. How I got down that undulating path to ‘ok’ is something I’m still not 100% sure about, but I felt on solid ground that day.
But in a city like Tucson, where you will always run into someone you know, I managed to never see D in the remainder of the time I lived there. That was for the best.
So it’s January 3, 2020. I sometimes see little pokes into my world from his. Friends of his will sometimes stalk my social media. I don’t know what they report back. That I’m crazy? That my Instagram feed is filled with ridiculous videos? That I think I’m so much better than I am? I could go down this rabbit hole of perceived hypothetical masochism for days. But I’ve got a dentist appointment, and a show with Alfie, and a date with XXXX, and a life, and a future. You’ll just have to forgive me if I don’t have time anymore to hate myself for his benefit.
I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you. Yeah, you, Bubba. Even you.