We did that dance for months. I jumped through hoop after hoop trying to save myself from the trauma of an unwanted and unexpected divorce, and hoping that he’d love me again. My heart broke a bit more each time we went out and he didn’t hold my hand. He’d always held my hand.
I felt a spark of hope when he suggested we share a bottle of wine next to the river one evening and when he kissed me on a Sunday morning in August. We’d even gone to London for a few days, he’d held my hand, and it felt like nothing had changed.
And then he told me he was having our apartment valued and that there was no way of stopping the insanity of this unexpected divorce. When I told him that I wanted to make his intentions known to the family, he backed off.
I went to the States as he asked… “to get clear” in my mind whether I wanted to live there or here. But I’d already made my choice when I chose him. I married him forever, not just until things got difficult or didn’t go my way. I was desolate when our England move fell through, but living in the States was never on the table so I settled into Aarhus and came to love it. I’ve known since I was a child that I didn’t want to be a mother, but I like to think I was a good (if unconventional) stepmom to his son.
I asked him if I should look for a place to live while I was back stateside, or just enjoy spending time with my sister. I never got a straight answer but he was scarcely available by phone or SMS while I was away. He’d said he was painting my office. I sent him a photo of me in a $5.49 dress I fell in love with at a thrift store and he wrote back, “it’s colourful.” And it was, but when he loved me, he would’ve said, “it’s you,” even though he never understood my love of secondhand things.
I brought back some of my favorite foods for him to try. I cooked his favorite things. Even working from home, I made sure to wear something nice (if “colourful”) and to fix my hair and makeup every day. If not for him, then for me. I finished the grouting in the bathroom. I made vegetarian sushi. I organized the boxes that hadn’t yet been unpacked, and he asked me if I thought it made any difference. I did.
And he told me he still wanted this ridiculous and unexpected divorce.
I walked to the shops on a rainy autumn morning, while he was still asleep, to buy lemon curd and rolls for breakfast. We sat in the windowsill with coffee (him) and tea (me) and talked about where the Christmas tree would go. He told me he was depressed. I told him we’d get through it together. He told me I deserved better. I told him that was for me to decide.
The following week, he still wanted this stupid unexpected divorce. So I told him to call our bank manager to see if he could afford it. He didn’t call.
My friend called me every day on her lunch break and listened to me cry, and rage, and try to make sense of the extreme fuckery that he’d suddenly unleashed into my life. I’d get up early enough to finish most of my work before my sister woke up in the States. We’d talk for most of the afternoon, her reassuring me from an ocean away, hoping for the best but preparing me for the worst.
He’d come home and we’d make small talk over dinner. I always cooked dinner. Vegetarian, which he’d come to resent. When we were finished eating and I’d done the dishes, I’d offer him a York Peppermint Patty from my coveted American stash. Then, as if I could buy him with peppermint and chocolate, I’d offer him a second one (which he usually took).
And I’d hurt, and escape early to bed with Opie, a cup of tea, and Gilmore Girls.
One Thursday morning in November (he must have a penchant for Thursday morning bullshit), he sent me a brusque email saying that a realtor would be coming around the next morning to value our apartment. And I finally saw him for the small, cowardly, passive-aggressive, deceptive person that he is. Now I didn’t want him.
Thank goodness we’d signed a prenup… I was going to need it. But still, even after five months of mind games, I didn’t know why he was divorcing me.
You can find the first article in this story here.