How You Get Divorced

First you will have to get married to someone who, when he asks you on bended knee in a 250 square foot apartment in Manhattan surrounded by the sounds of honking horns and a toilet that won’t stop running, you pause.

You pause.

Even though he stares at you, leans toward you, clutching the receipt for the ring — not the actual ring, which will turn out to be a pear-shaped diamond you hate from the first minute you see it — you can’t find the shape of yes in your mouth. It is only when you see the light in his eyes go from excited to “are you messing with me right now” to the near dim of sad, your doubt breaks into a million little pieces and spreads to every hiding place your body contains so you can let out a high pitched, “Yes, of course, yes!” Then you will hug him and kiss him and have missionary position sex with him, because that’s what he likes and you just want to make him happy; you just want to make him love you more than you think he does.

Now that you’re married you’re going to need to tell everyone how happy you are—him, your parents, his parents, the people at your temp job, the hot guy at that audition who wants to show you his music collection a few blocks away. You are going to keep telling people until you become so convinced that when you start writing songs about a miserable young woman who doesn’t know why her man won’t look her in the eye or touch her the way that makes her go “mmm”, you are going to think you are so fucking clever.  You will say to yourself, “How do I think of these things?”

Now that you’re married you’re going to need to get used to repeating yourself over and over and over and over and over. “Please stop leaving your shit stained underwear on the bathroom floor, your beard shavings in the sink, and would it kill you to scrub the fucking toilet every once in a while? I am not your goddamned mother.”

“Why can’t you stop playing video games for a second and talk to me?”

“I know you like her. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice. No, I will not let it go! I will not let this go. I will never, ever let this go.”

You eventually let it go.

But, not before you lose your high notes from the yelling and miss auditions for parts you would have killed to play. You will wonder why you cry on the subway sometimes staring down at your lap, as you dig into the bottom of your purse for an old tissue or a napkin or maxi pad, something.

You will feel alone even though you hardly ever are.

Now that you are married when you do finally get a job singing opera, you will wrestle with the idea of being out of town for so long—to him, to your parents, his parents, the people at your temp job, the hot guy on the gig who tells your friend you have the sexy hair and the voice of a goddess. You will tell that hot guy how happy you are while at the same time fantasizing about kissing him hard then soft then hard then soft until he begs you to break your vow, begs you to do what your body is aching to do. But you don’t.

Until you do.

And when you do…

When you do finally kiss him, your entire life will change. Your body will wake up and refuse to sleep no matter how hard you wriggle and squirm and burn and cry and rip out your sexy hair strand by strand. You will not be able to rest until you say to someone, a therapist you got out of the yellow pages who happened to have an hour free that day, the phrase that both shocks you and feels like the only version of the truth that ever had legs: I NEED TO DIVORCE THIS MAN WITHOUT FEELING LIKE I WILL WANT TO KILL MYSELF.

She, the therapist, will pause.

You will stop breathing.

You will hear the cars outside and the ticking of a clock and the sounds of clouds floating in the sky.

Then, your time will be up.

You will call him that day long distance and say, “I want a divorce.” And, it will feel like the longest, purest, easiest note you’ve ever sung.

He will plead with you. He will go to Tiffany and buy you a ring, another ugly fucking ring, and he will fly to your gig even though you told him not to and cry into your sweatshirt and ask you why. You will search yourself for words like “Okay, one more chance.” But you won’t find them and so you send him home on a plane that day.

You will have a friend who is a lawyer draw the papers up, walk you to the courthouse, ask you why you’re not more sad. You will say, “I don’t know. Maybe it will hit me eventually.” But, while it does hit you that your whole life changed in the blink of an eye and that you are starting over from scratch, you are never sad to finally be awake.

You will hike mountains and have sex in every conceivable position. You will listen to music and hear it for the first time. You will make new friends, the kind of friends you keep for the rest of your life. You will cry, but the tears will heal you. You will not just get through this, you will get past this, you will get over this, you will be more… you.

And that…

That is how you get divorced.

16 thoughts on “How You Get Divorced

  1. The tension was feverish from the start, but you ramped it up to explosive by the end, and I just love you for it! This is the way to do a how-to. Perfect truth told without an ounce of telling. Fuck it, I’m gonna say it. I love you, Lisa! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phew… I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster with you. Amazing piece. Punchy, timely, relateable, and very well written.

    Best line: “and have missionary position sex with him.”

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It scares me to think that somehow we always know from the beginning whether things will work out or not. And yet, we need to go on that journey to get to that point where the ‘one more chance’ no longer becomes an automatic response. This moved me and scared me on so many levels…probably because it made me question my own life. Thanks for the powerful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m speechless. Your personal essays are so deep to the core personal yet honest, powerful and resonate. I don’t think you would even have to have had a bad relationship with a partner to feel and understand and relate to what you have written. Thank you for sharing your life and your talent with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So very well written, but a hard read for me as I was on the receiving end of the very sudden and abrupt, “I don’t want to be married anymore” lightning bolt. My kids were 7, 5, 2 & 2. And their father pretty much vanished after that statement three years ago. And, while I am fine without him, there isn’t an easy day ever — at least for me. He gets to parent at his convenience, travel for fun, and is getting remarried to the woman he started seeing three months before he told me he was done. He doesn’t see the wake of pain he left, the constant stress of me trying to be all of everything to everyone as a mother and an employee. He handed me all of the responsibility and floated away on a river of mid-life stupidity. And most days I can do it all, be it all. But I don’t know that I can ever identify with the one who leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

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