I did not have what you would call an amicable divorce.
By the time I made the decision to file, I was so furious with my ex-husband (henceforth referred to as X) for his addiction and his behavior that there was absolutely no chance at mediation. I hired a lawyer immediately with the goal of getting out of my marriage as swiftly as possible.
I didn’t want to compromise. I didn’t want to make nice. I wanted to Get. The. Fuck. Out.
Unfortunately, the court system is not set up to accommodate couples seeking to end their marriages quickly. Add that to the fact that X seemed determined to dig in his heels and make the process as slow and torturous as possible and you can see why the year between filing and finalizing my divorce was one of the most stressful of my life.
During the time leading up to filing and throughout the divorce process, I could barely stand to be in the same room as X. We had to see each other. We had to talk to each other for the sake of the kids. But every interaction was laced with contempt. I hated the sight of him. I hated his voice. I hated everything that he did. I thought every word he said to me was some kind of backhanded jibe. Often he didn’t even bother making the jibes backhanded. I felt like he was deliberately making my life a living hell. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m sure I was no peach to deal with either.
Connecticut mandates that all couples with children who are seeking a divorce attend a series of parenting classes (not together, thank GOD.) The classes are intended to offer advice for co-parenting post-divorce. These classes were long. And often boring. And filled with a lot of “Well, duh” information. But I learned a few good tips that I assumed I would never use because I was certain we would never be able to effectively co-parent.
How can you co-parent with someone who has an entirely conflicting parenting style? How can you co-parent with someone with whom you cannot have a civil conversation? How can you co-parent with someone you can’t stand? I was terrified. I’d watched enough episodes of Intervention to know that it is always the messy divorces and antagonistic parents that end up fucking up the kids.
I had a lot of people around me try to assure me that things would get better by throwing a bunch of time-related clichés my way. “Give it time,” they said. “Time heals all wounds,” they said. “Time changes everything,” they said.
“Bullshit,” I said. In the throes of it, I just did not think it was possible.
Flash forward to a couple weeks ago.
We are closing in on a year of being divorced (October). I brought the kids down to X on Friday after work because I thought it would be nice to give him an extra night with them. Yep, I did it just to be nice. When I got to the house, I chatted amicably with X and his mother about the kids and about my training for the half marathon and other random things.
X was cooking hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner and L asked if I was going to stay and have a hot dog with them. I was in the middle of making my excuses when X said, “Do you want to stay and have a hot dog? There’s plenty of food.”
So I did.
I ate dinner with X, his parents, and the kids. And it was nice. Mildly uncomfortable? Yes, but not overwhelmingly so.
We’re doing it. We’re co-parenting. And we’re doing a good job.
I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure how I got from actively wishing for his demise on a daily basis to today telling him that I hope he feels better when he mentioned he was running a fever. But somehow, it happened.
I’m not kidding myself here. We’re not exactly friends. And I know it’s not going to be smooth sailing forever and ever, amen. We have a LOT of years ahead of us that are certain to test our ability to communicate and cooperate and compromise. But we’re making a decent go of it and right now, that’s all I can ask for.