“Kat, divorce papers. Now.”
These words my dad said to me still ring in my ears.
Let's go back to the month that I stayed with Sue in August 2012. Before I left, I clearly told Max that I was out of ideas and this was the last straw. I told him we should take this time to figure out what each of us wanted.
“But if you want to talk to me, see me, whatever, feel free to contact me however you want,” I told Max.
“You can contact me too, you know,” he said huffily.
“No,” I replied, looking straight into his brown eyes. “The point of me leaving is for you to come to me. If you want to see me, you come to me.”
To that I got the usual reply: silence.
When Max dropped me off at the train station, I was nearly hysterical. I lugged my huge suitcase up the stairs and onto the train, never taking off my sunglasses. Tears streamed down my face as I rode the train into Manhattan. I couldn’t believe he let me go.
I spent the first week checking my phone constantly. Surely Max was lonely. Surely he would email or text or something. He worked near Manhattan for God's sake, so surely he would come to his senses and ask to see me one evening.
Like my husband, my phone remained infuriatingly silent.
By the second week, I tried to stop checking my phone so much. I kept up with my work, and miraculously, no one at work except my manager had any clue what was going on with me. I was going to yoga and eating healthy and trying not to booze too much. But still, I prayed that Max would send me flowers, or serve me divorce papers, or show up and fuck me passionately up against a wall, or confess that he was having a lascivious affair with a transvestite. I mean, seriously, SOMETHING was better than silence.
By the third week, I started to face facts: Max wasn’t coming to get me. Looming on my calendar was my cousin’s wedding the following weekend (wonderful timing). I had previously given Max plenty of opportunities to decline. He had insisted that he would attend. So now here I was, days away from the wedding and I hadn’t heard a word from my husband in weeks. I sucked it up and emailed him to ask if he would be coming to the wedding. He wrote back, “I think it would be kind of weird for me to go.”
True? Of course. Cowardly and pathetic to email me? Absolutely.
I called Max immediately and after years of being calm and even keeled, I finally lost my shit on him. I couldn’t believe how the past three weeks had gone. He had hurt me, but worse, now he’d disappointed me. Max would take a bullet for me, but he wouldn’t (couldn’t?) fight for our marriage. I cried, I shouted. I hung up the phone and cried in a way I’ve rarely cried in my otherwise charmed life. It was like the pain of the previous weeks at Sue’s, plus the moment he told me he wasn’t attracted to me, plus the previous six years of rejection exploded out my tear ducts. After a few minutes of hoping Max would call me back to apologize and say he would do anything to keep me, I gave up and called home.
My dad answered the phone and I word vomited all over him between sobs. I was heartbroken that Max wasn’t coming for me. I was embarrassed that this wedding was going to be the start of going to family functions alone – the only single one. I was incredulous and disgusted that I’d let things get so out of hand in my marriage that things were now this fucked up. Finally, I paused for breath.
You know how sometimes you need someone to state the obvious in just the right way for you to finally get it? That was Dad in that pivotal moment in my marriage and life.
He firmly said, “Kat, divorce papers. Now. He is screwed up and he is never going to get better. I know you love him, but you’ve done absolutely everything you can. Enough is enough. You have to get away from him, and you have to do it now.”
Harsh? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely.
If he’d said it a few weeks sooner, I would’ve said there was no way in hell. (I was still saying, “Divorce is not an option.”) If Mom had answered the phone, she would’ve ended up crying right along with me. It was time for Dad to do the Dad thing and offer a solution.
He said he would call my aunt and tell her that I would be attending solo but for her to not tell anyone why. Next, he was going to make a few phone calls to get the names of some lawyers. Finally, he told me he and Mom loved me.
I’ve never asked him, but that moment must have been one of the hardest parenting moments for Dad. I mean, Dad was overjoyed when Max showed up on the front doorstep one night with an engagement ring in hand, coming to ask Dad for permission to marry me. On my rainy wedding day, I sat between my parents as we rode to the church, Dad holding my left hand and Mom holding my right. They walked me down the aisle together, each of them smiling ear to ear. My conservative, Catholic father put aside any ideas, beliefs, or visions for me and held up a mirror in front of my face. For the first time in my life, Dad told me it was time to give up.
And I did. I have no regrets.
Did your parents or other family members support the decision to divorce?