As I write in the book, there are probably 316 perfectly valid reasons why Chris and I didn’t make it as a couple. 316 may seem like a lot, but really, when you’re lying down on your kitchen floor, crying your eyes out, the brain is only too happy to make a long list of reasons: reasons why you suck, reasons why he sucks, reasons why life sucks and reasons why this terrible thing is happening to you. Trust me, it doesn’t take long to crank yourself up to 316.
The only problem is, all those reasons are meaningless.
Sure, some of them ring true and have merit, but the fact is, Chris and I could have just as easily have made it as a couple; it just turns out that we were two of the people whose marriages just don’t make it. And if you ask a happily married couple to make a list of places where they disagree, or disrespected each other, or don’t exactly fit, I guarantee, they will be able to make a list, and they won’t think too much of it. Or they’ll admit it worries them sometimes. Or they’ll just go blank in the face and look at you and go, “Huh?” That’s their good fortune, because they are still married—it’s only in hindsight, after a relationship is declared over by someone, that we start to look back over our shoulders and revise history and find faults and wonder just what exactly we could have done differently in order to avoid all this hurt.
It’s okay that we do that searching; that’s human nature. And in digging through all the reasons I thought Chris didn’t want to be with me anymore, I started to see that knowing WHY WHY WHY we didn’t make it actually wasn’t going to matter. Because, sure, when you get caught in a rainstorm you do wonder why the hell you left the umbrella at home, and why you didn’t watch the damn weather report this morning and so forth, but truly, the only thing that matters when you get caught in the rain? Is to get out of the rain.
Facing your own divorce is like that. Once I got the obsession with WHY WHY WHY out of the way, I was able to see that what mattered more was figuring out how we were going to make it as a divorced couple: how to smooth over some of the rough places where we bump into each other so we could successfully raise our son, how to let go of all that hurt so our son wouldn’t feel it when we were in a room together and think he’d caused it. And then to figure out how I was going to start again, for me, the me I was now in the act of becoming, without Chris.
So go ahead, ask yourself why. Make your list. Place your blame. Think about what you might do differently. Be angry at some of the actions of your partner. Be angry at yourself for a bit if you need to. It’s part of the process, trying to find a place to put the blame for the pain you are living. Then take a deep breath and shrug, and throw all those answers up in the air and direct your attention firmly ahead toward tomorrow. That’s where your life is now.