The Farm on Oak Creek

On how I got to be 60 and single

I thought we were in love.

I thought we were in love.

Let me start by saying that when the word “divorce” finally came up a year ago last June I was devastated.  I truly thought this man I’d been married to for 28 years was the love of my life.  Good lord, but we’d been through so much together, everything from the death of my oldest son to traveling the world (including living in Europe and Japan).  After all those trials and joys, tribulations and successes, how could it be that he could look me straight in the eye and tell me that he hadn’t loved me for more than 10 years when I was sure I’d been in loving relationship?  I mean, when I thought about us I remembered the hugs and kisses, the exciting vacations, the laughter and fun.

Goes to show that even for a former neo-nazi bitch from hell (that was my younger son’s “loving” nickname for me when he was a teenager), denial isn’t just a river in Eygpt.  Moreover, it went to show that all the counseling we’d done over that last 10 years had been a waste of money.

Or had they?  As we began the year-long, gut-wrenching untangling process that included him falling in lust with someone other than me, I kept remembering the first counselor we saw.  He was the one who flat out told me that the problem was with Ed and not me.  Of course at the time I interpreted that to mean that Ed needed help, that someone had to fix him, knock him out of his depression so he could once again love me as much as I loved him.  Now I’m pretty sure what the good Doctor meant was that Ed wanted out and no amount of talk therapy or good wishes was going to change that.

So what happened?  I know now.  I changed.  It was me, all me.

When Ed met me I was newly divorced from my second husband (it was a quick marriage; I left after nine months), the single mother of two neurologically challenged boys.  Just after Ed and I met, my son Adam was hit by a car and left with concussion-related spontaneous rages and the brain damage that ultimately resulted in his death.  My son Justin is autistic, and incredibly strong.  At three he disassembled his twin bed and threw the boxspring and the mattress down the stairs.  He wasn’t ready for bed, I guess.  In me, Ed saw a damsel in distress and came to the rescue, because that’s what he does. He rescues.

Things were good, or as good as they could be given the stress of living with my kids.  I was glad Ed didn’t have to live with them full time, that his job had him traveling to the far ends of the earth where he’d sometimes stay for months at a time.  I knew the kids stressed him out and worsened what I recognized as a long-running struggle with depression.  I was convinced that once the kids were gone and it was just the two of us, things would look like that picture all the time.  Then Adam was gone and Justin turned 18 and moved out.

That’s not entirely true.  Justin didn’t move out, I moved him out.  His cousin had been sharing an apartment with this 40-year-old man that everyone called Buddha, who had met Justin when Justin visited my nephew.  However, for some reason Buddha thought Justin’s name was Warren.  I know this because I got this call from this guy who says “Hi, I’m Buddha.  Your nephew used to live with me.  I was wondering if Warren would like to share an apartment with me.”

I didn’t miss a beat.  “Warren would be thrilled,” I replied.  “Warren” was living in the apartment the next day.  I’ve got a real knack for packing with black garbage sacks.

The day after Justin moved out, I walked around my house with a huge smile on my face, saying over and over, “I love my life!  I love my life!”

Ed heard me and replied with real venom, “I’m glad somebody loves their life.”

I know now that the moment I spoke those words I began building the coffin for our marriage.  The morning after Justin’s departure I ceased to be a damsel in distress.  Instead, I was myself, the woman I’d become over all the years of Ed’s travel while I raised my boys for all intents and purposes as a single mother.  I was happy, strong, confident and capable, someone definitely not in need of rescue.  In short, I became a person Ed couldn’t even contemplate loving.

The devastation and grief I felt a year ago–or even last month when the divorce paperwork was initiated–over the loss of my marriage and the man I believed I loved is fading, and fading fast.  Instead, I’ve begun thinking about our past, and our divorce, as an unexpected gift.  Without Ed’s depression forcing me to be strong for both of us, without his traveling job that demanded I become confident in my own decisions and capabilities, I wouldn’t be able to even contemplate living here on the farm by myself, caring for my animals and my land the way I did for my children–all by myself. I hope I do half as well here as I did guiding Justin (as only a neo-nazi bitch from hell can) into adulthood.  If I could turn him into the functioning, successful, well-adjusted man he has become, surely I can make this farm produce income enough to keep it going.

© Denise Domning, 2023