Article by Meredith McKinnie
W e’ll call her Corinne. She’s a wife, a mother, a giver, a human soul going through the motions, blinded by failure, but encouraged by hope. Eight months ago she filed for divorce from her husband of nine years and 11 months. One month shy of 10 years. As if that extra month, that crowning achievement of surviving a marriage for a decade would give validity to a union that had long since been broken. She wouldn’t allow that. She took the hammer, shattered the invisible web of lies holding her picture perfect union together; the web had become too cumbersome to navigate. It felt fake; it was fake. And she’s not fake.
She lives with regret. She doesn’t openly say so, but she alludes to regret. “I wish I had finished my degree.” Does she need it now for what she does? No. Will she likely ever need it in her field? No. But now, unlike before, she realizes she needs it for her. Regret is hard, but it’s what you do with it that defines your character. You can settle for the weight of regret, or you can pick it up and drop kick it in the face. She’s a kicker. You should see her legs.
She felt she was doing the right thing, staying in an unhappy marriage for kids who were not witnessing a real marriage. They were seeing bitterness, loss, and sadness – routine forced as a means of escaping the reality of emotions. Hurt hurts. Hurt shows. And even a three-year-old is not blind to hurt. She can see when Mommy is sad. She can see when Daddy is mad. She comes in at night and crawls into that three-foot gap between Mommy and Daddy in the king sized bed, a human bridge between the two, the creation of both of them. And they cuddle her on their opposite sides. “How can we make something so perfect and be so far from perfection? How can we shatter her world, force her to divide her time, redefine her idea of family for our own comfort? When does it become better for her for us to be apart?”
She pondered this for years. She pondered it before her daughter was born. She felt guilty for bringing her into anything less than happiness, but couldn’t imagine life without her all the same. She looks like her daddy. She’s strong-willed like her daddy. And it pains her to even acknowledge his qualities in her. Her hate for him is that strong. How can she love the qualities in this angel that she despises so in her husband?
“Will she be reckless like him? Will she suffer? Will I suffer? Am I being selfish?”
The first night the kids were gone she cried. She cried in silence on the back porch because it was the first night of many. This would now be her life. Every other weekend and two nights alternating weeks her house would go from chaos to quiet. She used to complain about the chaos, but the silence is claustrophobic. She used to list the many grandiose ideas of things she would do without the responsibility of motherhood, but now, on that quiet porch, she can’t remember any of them. She just feels the silence, like a fog she can’t see through. They tell her she will come to value her quiet time, that she needs a break, but how would she know? She’s never really had one. She craves normality, even dysfunctional normality. After almost 10 years, it’s all she knows. And while she knew her life with him was torture, there was a comfort in knowing. This silence, she doesn’t know. It’s eerie and unnatural, and she invited it. While she didn’t wreck the marriage, she opened the door to its ending. She bears the weight.
She tried … She failed … but she’s still trying…