Divorce, American style — day one
Blogging my way through it. One day at a time. But I want to give you back story on the let down because it has to do with what is going on politically in America right now as well given what has happened in the corporate sphere.
I watched that movie two years into this marriage with horror, because two years into a marriage you never expect to be going through what people in marriages go through.
We met at the newspaper where we both worked in 1984. He was breaking up with someone and I was in graduate school at UCSB. I ended up dropping out, which was a bad move on my part.
In the year 1995 I went back to school for a master’s. I worked my ass of doing it and I paid for it myself out of my salary as a graphic designer. I wanted to be an art therapist and work with children — that is how I emerged from Pacifica, at any rate.
I had no idea how hard it was going to be to amass my hours as both a trainee and intern therapist in my town. I worked like a slave, for free at non-profits in and around my regular job. Hour after hour after hour.
On December 21, 1987 we married. No two people in the Composing Department could take the same week off, because of job seniority issues — so there was no Honeymoon for the two of us. Anyone who has worked in the Newspaper industry knows what those years were like as papers went from cold type to initial attempts at pagination and we all had to learn the new equipment. I was the one chosen to learn all the systems on the new machines. I always had the harder jobs. Sometimes I had to stay until two in the morning or later just to get the paper out in a horrible cold little room full of computers.
I was an artist when we met, with a darkroom in my kitchen.
I lived in a little Craftsman converted carriage house up on the Riviera — my second apartment on my own. In a way 1984 was my first free summer, ever. He never wanted to go home to his place, and so it was very difficult holding my ground in those days — because I never had any time alone after we met. It was like being with somebody all day long at home and at work.
He didn’t like the darkroom in my kitchen. He said, “this is a kitchen.”
This kind of thing is how the power exchange begins in a marriage, isn’t it?
He was laid off in 2000 and I was still expected to work there at the paper, can you believe that?
There I was, fresh with my new master’s degree running around trying to take care of my clients — free — and he just shrugged and said “what am I supposed to do now?”
What politicians in America don’t seem to give a shit about is how things like this have been happening in our country for the last twenty five years as all the jobs have gone away.
Many of the women in my generation went to college before they married. This was part of feminism in the Second Wave. My own mother was divorced twice. I always wanted a stable environment in which to have a child — a classic mother and father — like my grandparents modeled.
Looking back now, I wish that he had wanted children. I guess I should have been smarter, sooner — left sooner, but see? Women in my generation were expected to work.
I have never been as humiliated in my life after that layoff he went through. The worst day of my life was having to hold my head up and walk back into work after that. I worked there 20 years, myself. To even imagine the cruelty of the bosses at the newspaper — that they could have done that to me? Not laid me off too? You cannot imagine.
I lasted exactly seven months.
I was the star graphic designer. The best they had ever had. I gave a two week notice, and three days later they came to my cubicle and said “You can go now.”
I never received my severance package that I deserved from the big corporation. I wasn’t eligible for unemployment either.
The shock of the layoff after so many years was nothing compared to the deaths of our parents that came just after. When my mother died, I really think I collapsed inside. That was June 12th, 2002.
I made a promise to myself, because his parents were elderly that I would be strong enough to see him through that.
So, having been trained as a therapist, I know what grief looks like.
My grief is huge, because after my mother passed I gave up on trying to become a therapist.
The agency had me working with seniors and the homeless.
It was breaking my heart, so I stopped. That was supposed to be my bright shiny new career. I stopped in 2003.
It was on the fourth that I woke up to the reality that staying alive was important to me.
A fresh outlook is going to help and I will be able to see my friends again for the first time in years and years and years. He never wanted a social life and the hours we had to work were so exhausting that fell by the wayside because for many years we weren’t even working the same hours.
The first thing he sold was our boat, right after the layoff.
It almost killed me to lose her, so, I made the decision yesterday that I want to get a boat in the harbor and live aboard for a year. I told my husband that yesterday. So, I asked him to move up to his parent’s house and he said no. I explained that I wanted to pack up this house and put my things in storage. He said “no.”
He wants to rent it out.
I don’t see how we are going to be able to co-habitate this house together, as of yesterday and the huge amount of anger that was released as we each screamed at each other.
Anyway, I will be blogging what happens day by day. Here.
I will also try and work on my books, which is near to impossible in this moment given the atmosphere I am forced to live in at present.
Leave comments if you want, because I’d really appreciate it.
ps: here is my mom — one of my fav pictures of her — she was just like this, and it is her strength that I need the most now.
and here is a picture of me — that last free summer in 1984 when I graduated from UCSB with a degree in Art History.