Archive for divorce

BRING OUT YOUR DEAD

Posted in personal, reminisce, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by kimmy

It had the earmarkings of a truly life-changing week.  And it did change me… but in ways I didn’t anticipate.

I was on retreat in Kansas City, trying to make sense of a life which had become incomprehensible.  The grounds were beautiful and I walked them everyday, sharing my despair with the trees.   They must have heard my pleas because not long after, my walk was accompanied by an enormous bird.  She had an eight-foot wing span and kept pace with me, always twenty yards ahead. 

It never occured to me to wonder why she was out of her normal habitat, or if she considered me prey.  Instead I followed her, listening to the heavy whoosh of her wings as she lighted from branch to branch, hoping that she would reveal her secrets.

She did, of course, a few days later when I realized that my marriage had died.    Why hadn’t I seen the vultures circling earlier?  I knew that it had to be buried, but the pain of this knowledge was so profound that it paralyzed me. 

And there was more to come.  I left the retreat the next day and rode to the airport like a zombie.  The highway was just a blur; the voices on the radio, a jumble of noise.   I paid no attention and just stared out the window, watching the fine Missouri homes pass by in streaks of color.

“… he died in a helicopter crash at Alpine Valley.”

The location roused some recognition in me, and I turned up the volume.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was dead on a hillside in Wisconsin.

It felt like a knife in my heart.

I couldn’t stop weeping.  And couldn’t understand why I was weeping for a man I had never met.  The dj’s were hushed, reverent as they recapped his life and played songs from his repertoire, but I didn’t hear them.  I only mourned the loss of, what felt like, a brother.

There was no respite when I returned to Chicago.  I walked into my apartment and dialed the phone.  I had to speak with Kathleen.

There was no answer.  Oh, why was I gallivanting around the country trying to find myself when she was in such frail health?  She had been good friend for ten years, but all I could recall in that moment were her lips stained with morphine.

“When I go, I’d like it to be of heroin overdose.” 

She couldn’t have meant it, so many years ago, laughing with the recollections of youth.  But her words were prophetic, and she had died in my absence, after a long battle with cancer.

What more would my winged messenger bring?  At the wake, I saw more than Kathleen’s body lying in the coffin.  Domestic fantasies, idealistic visions and adolescent dreams were nestled next to her, waiting to be interred forever into the cold ground.

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A DOORMAT BY ANY OTHER NAME

Posted in relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by kimmy

After witnessing the collapse of yet another friend’s long-term relationship, I wondered what all these women had in common.  Aside from shouldering the lion’s share of the work involved, it seemed that all of them were exceptionally giving and tolerant women.  Strange, then, that they were assigned the unfair moniker of fickle.

We gathered one night to discuss our mutual woes.  It was ironic that even after bolting, they were still concerned with the welfare of everyone else but themselves. 

“My priest says I’m going straight to hell if I don’t take him back.  Do you think he’s right?” 

I couldn’t help but laugh.  Only a celibate man would have the balls to make such a statement.  I asked her if Father Flannigan knew about her husband’s infidelities.  She confessed that he did, but advised her that since a man’s needs were so much greater and important than her own, she’d best turn a blind eye for the sake of the children.  Savvy advice indeed.  Of course he failed to mention than if she contracts HIV from her wayward husband, the kids will have to do without a mother. 

“I don’t want to be a single parent.  The kids need a father.”

Lots of guilty tears accompanied that one.   It seemed ironic that despite her remorse, she didn’t realize that for the last 10 years she has been the defacto parent while Mr. Right travelled the world.  She was absolutely correct; the children do need a father.  I suggested that she go out and find a suitable one immediately.

“I’m terrified of being alone.  Isn’t the devil you know better than the one you don’t?”

Sure, if you don’t mind selling your soul.  I couldn’t help but wonder why she rued leaving her alcoholic boyfriend.  Did she think she could love him into sobriety?  I thought that after his third DUI, she would finally gather the courage to leave.  Pity she waited until he actually broadsided another vehicle.  Now she can add the guilt of a stranger’s injuries to her list.

As the self-blame fest continued, it seemed odd that the shortcomings of their (now former) partners were not mentioned.  It seemed that no matter the circumstance, each woman assigned herself the responsibility of failure, a choice eagerly endorsed by their errant lovers. 

“Greg’s telling everyone that I had a nervous breakdown.”

Of course he is.  That way he’s completely excused for his behavior, assumes none of the responsibility and is free to commit the same blunders with another woman.

“Marv told the kids that I’ve become a lesbian.”

When all else fails, try character attacks.  If it works on the campaign trail, it can work for any resentful dumpee.  Just describe the opponent in the worst possible light and then feign innocence when questioned.   Simply blame those tear-filled, late-night calls to her girlfriends for any misconception, and walk away.  It doesn’t matter if her reputation is besmirched.  This is war! 

Now logic dictates that these behaviors are co-dependent.  A clear-thinking woman would notice it and make the necessary changes to keep her sanity.  But what of those who are so caught up in fixing others that they don’t even know the damage wrought to themselves?  My grandmother once told me that if you don’t want others to tread on you, you must stop acting the doormat.

Maybe it’s time to put the welcome mat into storage.