On the Day He Asked for a Divorce


The following is an excerpt from a memoir I am writing paralleling the destruction and reconstruction of  my marriage, my faith, and myself. 

Disclaimer:This is a pinnacle moment in my life but certainly not one of my happier pieces; it has swearing; and if you are a family member you may not want to read it. You have been warned.

The smell of old books and new that line our therapists office perpetrate my nose, but above that his scent fills my nose. The man that has been my husband for four ridiculously rocky years sits across from me and he’s wearing my favorite cologne. We are here to decide if we will stay together. Last night we made love. It was exciting and stressful – why do we do the things we aren’t supposed to? When we are married we don’t want to be together and when we are a part we can’t keep our hands off of each other.

I keep picking at my nails. It’s what I do when I’m nervous – pick, pick, pick. I create hangnails and then when it gets so bad I can’t handle it, and I bring my finger to my mouth to chew. It’s gross. I know. Something that grosses me out in other people – something I loathe when I sit across from my dad or my brother and I see their stubby finger nails from all that chewing and biting.

Nina asks us how our 6-week separation has gone.

And I perk up, “We are doing great!” I hear myself say.

I go on for a minute or two about how we have decided to make this work, that we’ve had time to talk about it and we want to try our marriage in a new and different way – it can’t go on like it has before. I am giddy almost; excited for this new beginning that I hear myself describe.

And then I hear him clear his throat.

His demeanor changes, and he shifts uncomfortably on that peach colored couch. “Fran, I need to say something”.

I know what is coming.

Oh my god – NO!

I can feel it in my stomach before it comes out of his mouth.

“I think I’ve made a big mistake.”

The world stops spinning, I stop breathing, and I hear him say, “I had thought I wanted to work this out with Christy, but I just don’t think I can.”

All I can see are those books on her shelf – How to Be An Adult, Jungian Analysis, and my eyes fall on The Course in Miracles.

Miracles are bullshit.

Could this moment be any more opposite of a miracle? I walked in here thinking we were in the midst of a miracle – the last 48 hours it all just felt right. We were back together where we belong – not living separately. Too many nights of Kelly Clarkson on my stereo blaring her break-up song anthem, “Since you’ve been gone.” I was sick of that being my theme song. We were here and we were going to make this work, and now all of my senses have just stopped working.

The rage that wells up inside of me is something I’ve never really known. The words that come flying out of my mouth are unknown I think there’s something in there about being an A**HOLE, and how in the hell is it ok to just yank me around and sleep with me and then just walk in here and change your f-ing mind?!?!

I hear Nina ask Jesse a question – it sounds like I’m underwater, I can barely hear anything any more. Thought the mere gesture that she is giving him the space to respond infuriates me, and I scream.  

“He doesn’t get to say anything else!”

His response is a quiet plea. “I have never wanted to hurt you.”

Tears are streaming down his face. My dry eyes are stunned at what they see. How in the hell does he have the right to be crying right now? He’s making this choice. It’s a choice! And he’s making the wrong choice.

My head is underwater, my stomach is sick, my mouth goes completely dry. The words that come out in response are frothing with bitterness.

“But you ARE hurting me!”

The bitterness turns sour, and I am going to be sick. That feeling in the very back of my throat right before I am going to throw up is becoming intense. If I stay in my seat much longer I am either going to lunge at him and punch him, or I am going to throw up all over the floor.

I can’t be here any more.

The smell of his cologne that used to turn me on and had made me nostalgic at the start of this meeting, will now forever be a reminder of this very moment. I tell Nina and that man across from me, the one I had considered my husband just minutes ago, that I need to leave – I can’t be here anymore. I open the door of her office and the all too familiar tropical smell of dirt, humidity, asphalt and jasmine pull me into reality.

Fuck! We drove here together. I grasp the pearls that I was wearing and yank them off my neck. The pearls he gave me on our honeymoon. I feel like such a fool. I got all dressed up and insisted we ride here together. I should have picked up on his hesitancy.

He is slowly walking behind me – do I just walk back to the office on my own or do I actually make him drive me? Can I handle it?

I am numb. I can handle anything.

He says it again, “I have never wanted to hurt you.” 

My white knuckles clutch the pearls tighter. “Just unlock the car.”

And he does. The seats are hot and I slide in.

He starts the car. There are no more words. And there won’t be for some time.

There is a couple just ahead of the car walking on the sidewalk holding hands – I hate them. I hate how happy they are. “Watch out!!!” I want to yell to them. “It won’t last!!!”

I have become the biggest cynic the world has ever seen.

Love is dead. It died today.

He drives slowly. We pass through one of my favorite streets where the huge old jacaranda trees frame the road and don’t care that they’ve been covered in asphalt – their roots just break right through it anyways. I feel like there could maybe be a metaphor in there, but there’s nothing but general static in my brain right now. And forget about my heart, it has now has found a permanent home in my stomach.

We pull into the parking lot of the office, and I take what’s left of me out of his car.

I don’t look back.

Walk straight up the hill.

And start my car. 

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