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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Why Do You Need Us To Hate Each Other?

"Does a couple hating each other validate divorce more than a couple that chooses to continue loving each other in a new and different way? Will our separation seem more real if we slingshot clumps of mud at each other and string our dirty laundry on a clothesline for the world to see?"

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I Am The Rock

Know how in the movies there always seems to be a funeral scene where the main character doesn't cry, instead sits stone-faced while everyone around them falls apart? Cut to three scenes later when they're explaining to a friend/love interest how they never cried at their mom's funeral and What's wrong with me?! or whatever and that's when they finally completely lose their shit?

Yeah, that.

That's how I've felt for the past four or five months. The expressionless sitting at the funeral part, not the losing my shit part. Except the funeral isn't the death of anyone I know, it's the death of my marriage. And I can't help but wonder when/if I'm going to lose my shit.

I talked to my therapist about this the other day and she says I've always been the rock, that it's the only way I know how to survive. It's true. I come from chaos, married into chaos and my remedy has been to withdraw into myself and Handle My Shit or else risk swirling into the abyss with everyone else around me.

Throughout my life I've been called emotionless and even mean, I told her. But I don't feel that way on the inside at all. On the inside I feel so emotional, so raw and scared, that if I let out even a little bit of that I'll shatter. Maybe forever. Those alcoholic, homeless people have a story, you know? They used to be somebody who probably never expected to be where they are now and yet there they are. Life happened. And they shattered and never recovered.

So I play the Tough Girl. I act the role so well it becomes reality.

Someone left a link to an old YouTube video of mine on my Facebook page the other day. I watched the video and then another one automatically started. This one. It's just a funny video I made years ago about what a maniac Milo is and Serge is just riffing and being silly and you can hear me giggling from behind the camera but it just about fucking killed me.

He was the love of my life. Always will be, in a way. It became so hard and we were so miserable but there he was, being his silly, stupid self and making me laugh and if I hadn't been at work when watching the video I would've completely lost my shit. My clichéd breakdown scene in the movie of my life. We probably argued immediately after I shut off the camera and slammed into our separate bedrooms or whatever but those minutes of him joking and me laughing and us just doing our usual thing on that sunny day in Utah, my entire universe contained in that car at that moment... I don't know.

Serge is properly mourning the death of our marriage and I am not. I am doing what I always do and soldiering onward and upward and jamming so much stuff into my days that I barely have time to breathe let alone think, thank God. But what will happen to me when all the busy-ness stops and I am left to my own devices? Serge will have moved on and I will finally allow myself to contemplate all that I have lost and I don't know what will happen.

I am afraid to be vulnerable. I am afraid to let myself experience the loss of Serge in my life. I am afraid if I let myself go I'll never make it back. So I am the rock. It's the only way I know.

Two Houses Are Better Than One

"A few weeks after his move, Serge drove the moving truck and helped me move into my place. He spent the first couple of nights there, too. If it sounds strange, it isn’t, really. Ours isn’t the kind of separation where hatred and anger are involved. Oh, there was hatred and anger. A lot of it, for a long time. It was bad. There were days my face was swollen from crying, my throat raw from screaming — so intense was my rage. But I came to realize it’s difficult to sustain intense emotion like that and, in the end I’m only hurting myself and, more importantly, my kids."

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Sooo... That Happened

Humor. It's one of the only ways both Serge and I have made it through the last couple months. Hell, it's the only way we made it through the past decade. Spend ten years with someone and you have a shared humor that can't be matched. Inside jokes, funny asides, being able to step outside the vortex of separation and make fun of ourselves and what absolute fucking assholes we became in our marriage, it's been huge for us.

One of the ways Serge dealt with our separation was by working out like a mad man. To be honest, it kind of pissed me off. NOW you're going to develop abs of steel? NOW? But whatever. He recently wrote this thing over on Separating, Together that made me laugh out loud and then nearly cry. I will always love to read the stuff Serge writes. Over the past couple years reading what he writes has been one of the only ways I was able to learn what was going on with him, how he really felt and thought.

That said, brace yo-selves.

"I didn’t hesitate to send it to her, to Monica — that’s the funny thing, really. I was actually excited to jam it in her inbox. That sounds dirty, huh? That says a lot about my confusion, I think. But so be it. I sent it off. No caption, no words. Just me, shirtless. Send. What a button, huh? It’s such a line in the sand. Whole careers and friendships and love affairs and even murders, so many of them come down to someone simply hitting send or not."

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Coughing Up Blood

Sometimes I'll be going about my day - heading to work, returning to an empty house, driving through Pennsylvania countryside at seven in the morning to jam in a few hours with my kids at Serge's place before putting in eight hours at my job when an invisible fist punches through my sternum, muddles around in my stomach before reaching up and gripping my heart, squeezing until I figure I'll be coughing up blood - and it all just hits me at once: what the fuck happened?

Look, man. I don't know. I don't have all the answers and I was the other person in this thing with this guy for ten years. All I can say is that, like a bad apple, it starting rotting from the inside out. Black mush. Worms everywhere. Oh, there were/are good parts. That's how it is when you pluck up a shiny, red apple, take a big, juicy bite and then - there it is. The bruised, mushy side you hadn't noticed.

But now it's all you can see. And what do you instinctively do with the apple? You put a lot of distance between you and that apple.

He can write his stuff for the websites we write for and I can do the same and you all can speculate but in the end none of that matters much. I mean, it matters but none of that shit is indicative of the years, hours, days, minutes and seconds spent in this marriage. And I'm not interested in chronicling that, anyway.

In the end, as with all imploding marriages, it comes down to two people: me and Serge. And we both know what happened/didn't happen. It isn't scandalous stuff either. Nobody cheated on anybody, nothing like that. Sorry to disappoint. It was just a slow, sorrowful spiral and by the time I realized how I felt, how I really felt about Serge, myself and my marriage, I was nearly dead. Almost drowned from the riptide of our relationship; taking in water at the bottom of the ocean, seeing stars, hands scrabbling sand, hair tangled in seaweed, blackness taking over. Separating from Serge was me using my last burst of energy to make for the surface and breathe. That's all. I can honestly tell you I'll always be in some kind of love with Serge and I can't tell you that there isn't maybe a shot for us somewhere down the road if we both get our shit together and the timing works out.

But for now, what's happening feels right. Necessary. We were not well.
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