Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad and the Day My Marriage Died

“Kat, divorce papers. Now.”
Dad and me on a bad hair day in NYC.
I'll never be too old to hold his hand.

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?


  1. Norine, Science of ParenthoodJune 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Really wonderful post. I've called off a wedding and called off a marriage. Both times my parents supported me 110%. In fact, they knew what wasn't working way before I did. One more lesson in Parents Know Best -- Especially Our Own.

  2. Oh Kat. My situation was so similar to yours. So similar. I waited for weeks. My husband never came to get me either. He had the gall to say, "you should beg me to come home, you're the one that left."

    I didn't leave us. I didn't break us. I tried to give us space to figure things out, and I was hoping that we both would realize that we couldn't be without each other. I took a framed picture of us with me and put it up in the sad, lonely basement space where I was crashing on a futon. I only took a week's worth of clothes with me when I went to stay with my friend, which I thought would be temporary. I wore those same clothes for 6 weeks before returning to get more. He couldn't get in the car and drive 10 minutes to meet me where I was.

    When I went home to get the rest of my clothes, I found all of our photos, everything that reminded him of us, hidden or turned over. I then went home and took down the framed photo I had sitting by my bedside. It was a sad day.

    I know this tears my dad apart too. And frankly, I feel sorry for anyone who would ever want to marry me again. It's going to take a miracle to get him to trust someone else to care for me.

    But I know you and I are better off. And I know that the right one will come for us. He will get in the car. He will say he can't live without us. I know it. I believe that with my whole heart.


    -Mustang Sally

  3. Seriously, the older I get, the more I realize that my parents do, in fact, know everything. Thank you for reading!

  4. The weirdest thing when I returned to our condo is that everything just looked frozen in time. I think he spent the month just sitting on the couch watching ESPN and the History Channel, never actually processing what was happening to us. He is a master at not dealing with anything he doesn't want to face. :(
    I will always love Max and he will always love me, but we clearly cannot be married. Very, very sad.

  5. I was divorced at a very young age. Had I gone to my mother, she would have berated me and told me I was not trying hard enough. I was terrified of disappointing my father, but it was him that said to me, "You are too young for this shit. Clean up and move on."
    I hope all is better for you.

  6. There's that Dad Tough Love that we need sometimes! I hope you're doing well too.

  7. This is certainly a heartbreaking post, but also a wonderful one of how your father unquestioningly supported you, as all great dads would! Loved it!

  8. Thanks Roshni. I was and am so fortunate that my family has supported me through the entire process.

  9. Natalie the SingingfoolJune 18, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Your dad is wise. The dude sounds like a royal asshole (pardon me for my bluntness). I'm rooting for you!

  10. Thanks for reading!
    I know it seems odd to defend my ex, but he really isn't an asshole. He couldn't deal with what was happening to him/us, so his reaction was to do nothing. Not that it was right, but it was not mean-spirited. More than anything, I feel sad for him that he cannot face his own emotions. But hey, not my problem anymore...

  11. Natalie the SingingfoolJune 18, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Well good, you sound a lot healthier than I'm sure I would be. My initial reaction to rejection is anger, hence the asshole comment. And you're right - not your problem anymore. :)

  12. Oh yes, but luckily I'm moving past anger. I was less gracious 6-9 months ago!

  13. You've got a bloody great father there and I know you know it. When I divorced, my father was somewhat diatant and indifferent to the whole shibang.

    I often tell other divorced friends and people that divorce is frigging tough but, you know what, you are a magical person who just hasn't yet found the right magical partner. And they are out there waiting for YOU!

    Heal, mend, rid yourself of the previous shitty baggage and prepare yourself for a better journey than you just had. You deserve it and will get it.

  14. Oh, my father is just like that! Even-keeled, calm-in-a-storm type of personality. He's the one I always turn to when I'm done being emotional and crazy and just need help and answers. When I was contemplating leaving my husband 6 months ago, it was my dad that I finally sat down with to figure everything out. He advised me to try counseling before taking such a huge life leap. He reminded me that I would be going from a stay-at-home-mom of a husband with a 6 or 7 figure salary to a single school teacher who would be forced to work to pay for a 2 bedroom apartment. Talk about harsh words! And granted, money is no reason to stay in a marriage, but just the way my father words things and the way he takes out the emotions and just sees a situation in a black and white manner is amazing to me. I find comfort in knowing that he's there when I need those look-in-the-mirror moments. I'm glad you have your parents during this tough first year of divorce. Good luck. I love keeping up with your blog.

  15. One of my new favorite quotes is "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings." I know better things are ahead!

  16. I think dads can be really good for that no-nonsense approach when you need it. (I'm usually the one doling out that kind of advice to others. We're experts on everyone else's lives -- just not our own!) Did you try counseling? Did it help?
    And thank you for following my story!

  17. Hey Kat, I keep forgetting to comment since I can't do it at work with my dumb old browser. Both my parents are very supportive of me divorcing my husband. They know it's the right thing for me to do, after all the stuff I've been through with his alcoholism. I fought long and hard for a long time to try and help him. Yeah, sometimes I would nag, and sometimes I would completely shut down. Our fights were beyond... normal. But when the lease on our apartment was up and we had to move because he'd lost his job due to his disease and we could no longer afford to live there? When I knew I would be stuck in another one year lease with a man that was refusing to change? I couldn't do it anymore. I needed out. Kat, ever since I found your blog it's been helping me a lot. So thank you!

  18. Hi Amy. I'm so glad that your parents are supporting you. I can't imagine how people get through such a difficult time without the support of family. It is so hard to face the truth that things are not going to change. I am thinking of you as you slog through this divorce crap. And I'm so happy my story is helping you! (It's also helping me to write about it.)

  19. Your Dad rocks! the great thing about men is they can give you straight-forward advice w/o any sugar coating. That is why everyone needs male friends.

  20. I agree. My dad is the shit.

  21. Your dad sounds a lot like mine, and that he'll do pretty much anything for you. You're lucky to have him (and vice versa).

  22. Sometimes we need a parents even more when we're all grown up, right? I find this with my own kids, that now that they are teenagers they seem to need me more than they did when they were little.
    My father was never there for me and I'm so glad yours is there for you!

  23. Wow, that's an awesome Dad move. Good for him. I'm glad he stood up for you when you needed someone to do that and I'm glad you listened.

  24. Your dad is awesome. He reminds me of mine, who is always so supportive of me.

  25. I'm almost 34 now and I still want my parents to be proud of me! I recognize now how much life experience they have and how many good choices they have clearly made. I can learn a lot from them.

  26. Totally a "Dad move," right? He handled me exactly right in that moment.

  27. We are lucky ladies!

  28. I've been reading your blog on and off for awhile, but this is the first I've read this particular post. It is so beautifully written. I'm sorry you went through what you did, but thank you for sharing your story. And your dad, TOTALLY rocks!!

  29. Thanks so much Jillian! This was a hard one to write but I'm very glad that I documented this moment in my life. And yes, my dad does indeed rock. :)