My husband and I continued to live together right up until our divorce. It was the longest year of my life. Memories of Catholic School came rushing back in—those fear-mongering nuns warning us about where we’d land should we not fully adhere to those 10 Commandments…the worst place you could ever want to be. And it wasn’t hell: it was purgatory.
Terror of winding up in that neither-here-nor-there waiting space indefinitely while God ruled on your fate made answering Billie Joel’s existential question (Do I want to laugh with the sinners or cry with the saints?) all that much more complicated. Well played, Catholic Church, until the day you said “Actually, never mind about that purgatory thing. JK.”
But purgatory is exactly what being roommates with your soon-to-be ex-husband feels like. It’s worse than hell and feels never ending, but you bite your tongue until there’s no blood left because there’s a child(ren) in the house. Total sufferfest.
But then papers are inked and the moving truck leaves, and you find yourself in a kind of stillness and quiet that can be unhinging, never mind unnerving. Rage, sadness and feelings of revenge bubbled up like a shaken bottle of champagne. My hamster-wheel thoughts made it feel like my head was about to go off the rails. I started obsessing about him, what he was doing, if he was happy… if he, too, had felt stuck in purgatory. Part of me hoped he’d be stuck indefinitely, (even though I really believe that ultimately, I’ll forgive him, let it go and move on—and be happy when he does the same).
In the meantime, I had to accept that I wasn’t there just yet. There was so much hostility I needed to vent, so much I wanted to say, but couldn’t because I’m not that woman. Do I condone these ferocious feelings? No. But that’s the thing with feelings… you can’t always control or rationalize them, but they’re still there. What matters is how you behave in spite of them. I’m not proud, but I’m not going to lie either; I may have thought these things:
1. Hey, bud, remember how hard you were trying to lose those 30 pounds? Well, someone—I’m not naming names—might’ve been putting weight-gainer in your protein powder.
2. All those shorts you said had been too big, but were now too small no matter how you dieted, well, I guess now you can thank my tailor for the downsizing.
3. Those nights you couldn’t quite understand what our son said… it sounded kinda like “goodnight daddy,” but came off a little more sounding like “goodnight fatty….”? It wasn’t your imagination.
4. Yes, I want Facebook to create more buttons so that when you comment, I can immediately hit the “This is dumb AF!” button.
5. I also really want my friends to never ever like anything you post. Ever. And, vice versa. I don’t even want to see your thumbnail.
6. I am totally going to create “Team Erica” shirts. I’ll know I’ll sell out because I’ve already had requests. And no, you’re not getting any of the proceeds.
7. Remember that time I very spontaneously offered you oral pleasures? You were perplexed, but went along with it, of course. I had a raging cold sore. Wait for it…
8. When you finally can commit to that tattoo (never mind anything else), I hope your tattoo artist’s hand channels truth and turns “Ironman” into “Iron man-child.”
9. Yup, I’m praying that your manhood gets snagged in your zipper. Every.single.time. And not just the tip (unless that would be more painful. And if yes, then that).
10. And for sure, I hope your next girlfriend cheats on you but makes you think it’s all in your head. You’ll waste hours of your life questioning coincidences and wondering why she’s on her phone all the time. You’ll keep track of all your password attempts so her phone doesn’t lock and bust you. And then one day, you’ll time it just right and see it’s my name that pops up on her text. Yeah, fucker. Karma is a massive femme bitch.
I’m really not a bitter, angry, negative woman. Well, maybe I am right now. But when our hearts hurt and we’re struggling to find our way through, anger and sadness are part of the natural grieving process and it’s ok to feel the feels. We can’t deny ourselves an important step in healing from a huge, devastating loss. I earned these thoughts and many more by surviving all the shit you put me through both in our marriage and in our divorce. No, I don’t do them. I don’t say them. But, I do think them. And that’s ok. Now that I’m finally out of hell and done Army-crawling across the razor blades of purgatory, I’m giving myself license to purge these feelings so I can leave them, and you, behind.
After all, what woman doesn’t pray for a There’s Something About Mary zipper episode for her ex? It’s totally normal, so Amen to that, sisters.