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The Blue Nightmare of My Heart

I spend a lot of time feeling like I've just been punched in the gut and am trying to catch my breath. Walloped while in the middle of some mundane bullshit like doing the dishes, making dinner, cleaning up shrapnel from the toy grenade that goes off round these parts every couple hours or so.

I take the hit, stop, double over my own body, hands clutching knees like I've just taken a line drive to the belly, eyes squinched tightly closed to roadblock tears or open wider than wide, boring lasers into the floor as I concentrate on making it to the other side of the moment. When 'one day at a time' is reduced to 'one second at a time.'

When Reese Witherspoon was divorcing Ryan Philippe I read a quote in one of those dumb magazines I've wasted hundreds of heard-earned dollars on over the years and it stuck with me. It's how I feel a lot of the time now. Most of the time. A quick google shows I remember it almost verbatim:

"I was sitting in a parking lot, and I felt like I just couldn't get out of the car. It was like, I can't get out of the car. I thought, 'Okay, half the parking lot has dealt with this,'" she added. "'More than half the parking lot with this. Okay, let's make it a little bigger. Half of this city has dealt with this. Okay, let's make it a little bigger -- half of this country,' until I finally got out of the car."

That moment occurs to me at least once a day. Some small facet of divorce, some previously unrealized fallout from the great divide, will enter my consciousness in a most abrupt manner and encompass my entire capacity of thought; as if I'm trying to contemplate some mind fuckery like the concept of infinity or its opposite: ceasing to exist at death. That shit's intense. Messes with your mind to the point that your brain shuts down and you can't fathom interacting with people as if it all ain't no thang. But what's the flip side? Revealing how you really feel? Flopping onto the floor like an exhausted toddler, screaming your ass off about how unfair it all is until some calm grown-up offers you juice and tucks you into bed for a nap? Because that sounds nice. The breakdown, it is alluring. Sympathy is demanded as opposed to pretending like you got this; relinquishing all control, letting somebody, anybody, step in and take over while your brain hops the next plane to Maui, away from the unforgiving grind.

Each day brings a new, innard-churning moment. Whether it's coming home to an empty house or the stark opposite; realizing holy motherfucking shit I am the caretaker of these three lives right now and back-up ain't coming when I've had enough, or the sudden awareness last week that Christmas will never be the same, forever bittersweet now, a clumsy tap dance of kid-sharing/tolerating new mates/loneliness. Hearing my kid tell me she likes the way Dad does something better or contemplating my alone-ness/the space where he used to be... The reality of divorce uppercuts me into excruciation. Panic. The gaping wound in my personality that has been festering since my own parents divorced thirty-plus years ago rips open again, torn stitches - they were sloppy, I sewed 'em myself over the years - blood seepage. I try to talk myself down, Witherspoon-style. 'Keep it moving, Butler. Your pain ain't special. Half of everyone you know has dealt with this. People you previously egotistically judged of weaker mettle. Those people made it through so get ahold of yourself, Sad Sack. Do it better than your parents did it. If marriage wasn't a possibility make your divorce better than your marriage. What else is left? Why not? Why make it harder than it has to be? We're all in this together, just people trying to make our way and be happy so let it all go and just try to be the best you that you can be in the face of the most difficult challenge of your life.'

And yeah. At times I feel stronger and more clear-headed than I've ever felt. Really. I'm not trying to go all Morrissey on you here. There are so many positives underway or else the divorce wouldn't be happening. The good is nearly equal to the bad but at times the bad just seems more consuming. The beauty of the finish line to forty is you find yourself giving little to no fucks about what other people think. It's liberating. A beautiful thing. I was telling my therapist how different I feel and how I look back and mourn the massive amount of time I've spent in my life hating on myself and worrying about what others think of me. What a waste! Except I had to go through that to get here; a lifetime of social anxiety; second-guessing myself; apologizing for my personality. I have stopped apologizing. I am who I am. Like me, hate me but I'm over here giving life my best. I'm a good person, a nice person, one who cares about others and if you don't like me then your feelings aren't my problem anymore and I ain't gonna devote another second of my life wondering why. So that's the nice part stitched into all the awfulness. Couldn't have one without the other so I just have to get through it. Reminds me of a famous Winston Churchill quote: "If you're going through hell, keep going." Almost stupid in its simplicity because really, what the hell else are you going to do? And yet it's worth keeping close, worth repeating every now and again. Keep going.

And Then We Met


Becoming Strangers

I’m told my divorce will be final mid-January. I accept the news with equanimity that belies the truth: this knowledge rocks me to my core.

I don’t know what to do with still another influx of chaotic emotion so I mentally scrunch it up like a trash-bound piece of paper, smaller and smaller, until I can just throw it away. It’s how I’m handling most things these days and whether that’s the healthiest approach is certainly debatable — but I don’t care. For months now I’ve listened to my music so loudly it rattles my soul and I expect to pull away bloody earbuds. I’ve gone on epic bike rides and kept pain at bay by pushing myself physically. Whatever gets me through, man. Whatever gets me through. Balling up emotions, deafening music and beer. Lots of beer. Oh, shut up. Let me medicate myself without your judgment. Like I told a friend the other day; I’m probably due for some sort of awesome public meltdown. For now, all this is working.

To read the whole thing click on over to Babble.

I Don't Want To Be The Me You See

In a relationship, who your mate sees becomes who you are. I don’t want to be the me you see.

That sentiment has been lodged deep in my mind for years, I just wasn’t able to articulate the concept. It’s why I felt so goddamn terrible during my marriage. His view of me doesn’t feel like the real me. Maybe I displayed a particular trait during year one or two or five of our marriage and that view of me overshadows who I am now. He took a snapshot of my personality during a specific time in my life and, for him, the photo is who I am and always will be.

Click here if you wanna read it all.

Charlie Max: 7 Months

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