Getting divorced

Getting divorced

I’m getting divorced.

If this sounds strange to you, it’s because my husband and I have been separated for nearly eight years. Twice as long as we were a couple. This year would be our 11th wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for more than a third of our lives. We have separate houses and do separate things and have separate dogs and separate thoughts and all the things you have when you’re separate.

I guess when you’re 21 you go into marriage with a hefty dose of naivety. This will work, we’re the exception, it will be different for us. And then you’re 24, and the person you met when you were 19 has disappeared and been replaced by someone you don’t know much at all, someone with a job and a family and a loan, and someone who is stressed and angry and then you are someone else as well, someone who you don’t know much at all, someone with a baby and another baby and a very, very lonely heart.

You see these people in the house, the one you married but don’t know and the one you became but don’t know. You see them in the kitchen and they are shouting at each other, and in the hallway there’s a little girl drawing on the walls and in the bedroom there’s a baby crying and you are 24 years old. You see the person you married but don’t know closing the door in your face (or at least you think it’s your face, or it used to be anyway) and you sit on the couch with your babies who are both crying, and you’re crying, and the house you bought together is crying.

And you try to work it out, you know. The person who used to be you calls your mother and says, I don’t know what to do, I’m so unhappy. And the person who used to be the one you married says, Everything is fine, don’t be silly, you are happy. And you sit in the house you bought together and the walls start to creep in and you kick them and shout and the babies are crying but the walls keep moving and there you are, you’re 24 years old and you’re sitting in a room the size of a shoebox in the house you bought together and you can hear your heart beating on the other side of the wall.

So you leave.

Then you are 31 years old and you know the person you have become and you know the person you married and you like them. Not in a marriage way, but in a fond and familiar way, like you know what they sound like when they come thundering down your hallway, and sometimes you call them when you’re feeling sad and they tell you it’s not all horrible, and you wonder who the two of you were when you were 21 and you got married and thought everything would be just fine, that it would work out, that you were the exception.

And they’re your mate, this person. Your friend.

And the person you were when you met them when you were 19 is not the person who married them when you were 21 is not the person who left them when you were 24 is not the person who is divorcing them when you are 31.

But all those people feel sad. Not regret sad, or mistake sad. Just sad because they each thought they had it figured out. And now you’re getting divorced.

31 Comments
  • Lisa

    July 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm Reply

    I love this Anna. I couldn’t read it fast enough. I struggle with the 12 years worth of memories that I have no one to share with apart from my ex I created the memories with. My new husband nods politely feigning interest when i start to tell a story from a past that he wasn’t yet part of. I hope one day to be in a place when my former husband and i can laugh and share that massive chunk of our lives together. Tread gently Anna x

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 22, 2014 at 10:29 am Reply

      Thanks Lisa. I can imagine how difficult it must be to have all of those kind of lost years — I’m such a sentimental idiot that I rehash the past all the time. I would struggle enormously. I hope you can eventually have the relationship you’d like to have with your ex, whatever that looks like xx

  • John James

    July 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm Reply

    Beautiful post Anna… Strange but good situation to be in, I guess…

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 22, 2014 at 10:30 am Reply

      Thanks JJ :) I think other people think it’s weirder than we do (but I guess that’s true for anyone and their own life!), but it’s definitely good, especially for the kids. I’m very grateful to have a mostly positive relationship with him. It makes everything much easier than it might be otherwise.

  • Judith

    July 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm Reply

    My experience was a little different, a little bit the same, and I felt every word. Love to you.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 22, 2014 at 10:30 am Reply

      Thanks Judy, for reading and for your kindness yesterday.

  • Alison Hallworth

    July 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Anna, I think becoming the friend of the man who parents your children, and shares a significant and meaningful part of your life is such a wonderfully life affirming act. You chose each other at the time for what were probably the right reasons and while it might not have worked out the way you hoped, it has probably worked out the way that was right for both of you. And how wonderful that you both recognise that. Good luck to both of you x

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm Reply

      Thank you Alison! What lovely meaning to hang around it. Thanks for reading x

  • Emily

    July 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm Reply

    This is beautiful and sad, you’ve shared so much but things won’t be/aren’t the same. I’m counting down until I can officially lodge mine which is a sad and weird date to move towards.Take care – e

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm Reply

      Thanks Emily. It is a strange thing to look forward to. Kind of an ending and a beginning all at once. I hope you are getting through it x

      • Emily

        March 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm Reply

        Anna – Ive come back to this again so many months afterwards as your piece has stuck with me. Im writing my own piece now on finally signing my divorce papers and my attitude is nowhere near the same. Such a sad and empty and confusing feeling – thanks again for your words xx

  • Annabel Smith

    July 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm Reply

    What a beautiful and heartbreaking piece. You made me cry. Divorce sounds so painful. How brave of you to share this.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm Reply

      Thanks Annabel. It is a bit of an emotional jungle, especially given we are good friends. I’m happy that we can be pragmatic about it though!

  • Rae Hilhorst

    July 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm Reply

    I fell in love with your piece, a perfect example of just plain sad.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm Reply

      Thank you Rae. It is just plain sad. What better way to describe it? Life, huh.

  • Jennifer

    July 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm Reply

    This makes me feel so sad. I just wanted to wish you all the best…

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 27, 2014 at 11:13 am Reply

      Thanks Jennifer xx It is sad, and it has a funny kind of finality to it that I haven’t had before.

  • Kimberley

    July 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm Reply

    Stunning post, Anna. You explain human emotion so beautifully. Kx

  • Lauren

    July 27, 2014 at 8:40 am Reply

    A beautiful post. I admire you both for maintaining a friendship after all you have been through. I wish you both the very best.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      July 27, 2014 at 11:20 am Reply

      Thank you Lauren. It has tested each of our patience on many occasions, but I feel very lucky to be able to parent our kids together-apart, without too much shouting.

  • alex wu

    July 28, 2014 at 2:32 am Reply

    THIS is why I love your writing. You evoke melancholy so well–visual and emotive, yet quiet and natural. It shouldn’t surprise me, as I’ve been a fan since I read your query and excerpt on AW. But it does, probably because I see so few writers write with such feels. (Ugh. Please tell me you spent a bijillion hours writing the post so I can be less jealous.)

    I want to put “Latkes With Sylvia” on my Goodreads to-read list, but I can’t find it. I’ve subscribed to your newsletter but that’s only for the occasional special stuff, right? Is there a way for me to subscribe to your blog by email, so I get an instant notification when you post?

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      September 26, 2014 at 11:38 pm Reply

      Thank you so much Alex. This is such a wonderful comment; you are very kind!

  • Judi

    August 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm Reply

    Anna, I have only just discovered you via twitter and am loving what I see and read.
    This is beautifully put – “the person you met has been replaced by someone you don’t know much at all, someone with a job and a family and a loan”. So true when marrying young and when the “pressures” of life take over. We do change so much as we grow into our life.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      September 26, 2014 at 11:39 pm Reply

      Thank you Judi. It is strange and scary the way life changes around us. I’m glad to have this person as a friend in life, with shared memories and experiences.

  • Emily

    September 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful way to capture something so… so… yeah, I’ll just leave the words to you. You have mastered ‘show, don’t tell’. Felt it the whole way through.

  • Angie

    September 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm Reply

    This is such a beautiful piece, Anna, and yet, all I can think is, “She’s only fucking 31???” Yes, I have totally made this about me and my age envy.

    But yes, this was the sweetest bitter or is it the bitterest sweet?

    I’m glad you’re okay now.

    xx

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      September 26, 2014 at 11:40 pm Reply

      Thanks Angie :) 31 … but my elder daughter is 11, so I feel quite elderly!

      I’m not sure what it is. It’s not bittersweet. It’s just kind of a gentle movement away.

  • Kerri

    September 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm Reply

    I love the way you have written that. Sorry that you are going though that, but thanks for sharing in such poetic prose. I can’t wait to read your book/s now. Your words sing themselves off the page screen.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      September 26, 2014 at 11:41 pm Reply

      Thank you sincerely, Kerri! I hope you like my other stories, once they make their way out there.

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