I actively avoided writing this last night.
I got off the train, and walked home in the perpetual rain we’ve been having lately, and pondered on the day I’d just had with Ray and Yoni. It was a wander through downtown Portland, doing a little retail therapy, looking at really expensive home furnishings and such with the two of them. Coffee, and a hangover, had put me in a definite reflective frame of mind. Ray and I had spent the morning have some of the most amazing sex, and both of us were in a different space as we meandered in and out of the shops. What struck me, though, was that Ray was actively seeking out things to include in our home, in our life. We went into one of his favorite paper goods stores, and I saw him picking out paper and envelopes for potential wedding invitations.
Lately, he and I have been talking more about taking that leap. We still need to move in together. We still have a lot of bridges to cross before making that kind of promise to each other, but right now, all signs point to this being a thing for both of us – marriage. Of course, though, for me, that means actually finalizing the divorce from Nathaniel.
I’ve been sitting on the paperwork since early November. I’ve got an envelope full of signatures and notarizations, but haven’t brought them to the courthouse here in Portland. There is a $300 filing fee, and I have struggled to come up with that kind of money all at once to pay. Perhaps, though, part of me simply avoided it. It is easier to take Ray out for dinner, to pay a little more towards my credit cards, to buy one more sandwich, coffee, pack of cigarettes than pay to end this mistake in my life. I finally admitted to Ray last night that I’m scared to do this thing.
I hated my parents when they got a divorce. I felt like I had been torn apart, punctured and sliced and flayed, with a burning agony that has lasted, and has left me a little disfigured, a little burled knot that has taken years to heal over. There are few moments in my life that have been so excruciating, actually. It meant not talking to either parent, on any level that mattered, for years. I ripped them both apart, too, using my words, my emotions, and my silence, to judge them and to keep them away from me. I held onto that resentment for a very, very long time. They had failed me. They had broken my family. They had ruined my idea of what love meant, what marriage meant, and what it meant to have a home.
When Nathaniel and I got married, it was in an attempt to fix the things that had divided us. It was, in my mind, a means of repairing damage, and of making a promise to each other to be there, through it all, and make what we had work. I never told him the weight of my decision to agree to marry him, though, and in the end, when he told me it was over, he did not know just how much rage and pain and sorrow he’d opened up in me by breaking this covenant between us. Again, I experienced the renting, the disembowelment of the power of my words, my agreements, my vows. We hadn’t redefined marriage – it was still simply words you could take back when they no longer proved useful. It had all gone stale and wrong and dark between us, and the life and energy of what marriage is had been killed off.
That was when I really started running. I redoubled my efforts to distance myself from the pain. I bounced from man to man, from town to town, from mountaintop to mountaintop, just to not have to face it all. The moment I learned the word ‘no,’ on that dusty slope just west of Denver, was the moment it all started to turn for me, but I still had so many more miles to run. Using Caleb as a means to get out of the high, thin air of Colorado, was part of that. Testing the waters of being open and honest with him, though embarrassing and painful in its own way, was just me really learning to stand on my own two feet. It was okay that he and I ended. It was okay that things shifted between us, and that I was not the man for him. I had still made the leap to Portland, and once I started working, along with getting a chance to move out here where I am now, it felt like I was actually living again, on my own terms. Of course, in that moment is when I met Ray, and why, now, as I stand here, holding this stack of papers that put a legal end to a life-promise I’d made to another, I’m filled with dread and regret.
I don’t want to be a promise-breaker. I don’t want to be a divorced man. I don’t want marriage to always be something that can be thrown away. I refuse to enter into that kind of agreement with anyone again if they aren’t willing to stick by their own words through it all – darkness and light. I don’t want Ray to see me as some sort of man who makes these kind of covenants on a whim, and just as easily ends them. He reassured me last night, as I told him these things over a text message, but still, I worry.
The other day, Ray admitted to me that he’s waiting to see if I actually go forward with the divorce. It matters a lot to him, he said. He wants to fully commit to us, to let go of any lingering loose ends and doubts he might have about us, but it means I need to do this thing and make myself fully and legally available to him. Going through with the divorce, to him, means I’m serious about what him and I have begun to build. In his mind, my marriage status hasn’t been a massive roadblock, but over time, it’s become a thing that should be dealt with if he’s going to actually feel comfortable about making long-term dreams into realities with me. As I sit here and write this, I’m finding myself filled with pride in him for admitting this, for taking his own emotions as seriously as this, and calling me to make my own stand. He wants me happy, and he wants unfettered access to all of me. He knows this darkness has been hanging over me for too long, and he wants me to put an end to it, and by taking myself seriously, demonstrate just how committed I am to being a fully-realized version of myself for whatever lies ahead for us. In no way is it an ultimatum, however. He’s a patient man. He just wants me happy, and I know this, no matter how much hearing these words from him did put me back on my heels. He is right, as have been all of my friends and people who’ve met me since Nathaniel and I ended. This divorce is a that that needs to legally happen if I’m ever going to find a path forward again in my life.
Today, as it’s Sunday and the courthouse is closed, I’m going to buy myself a new pair of running shoes. I started this journey by running away, and now it’s time to run back. I need to run back to the starting line. Ray deserves a man who’s willing to at least come back from the journey, with all of this knowledge, insight, and maturity. I need to complete this chapter, this phase, this movement in my life. I need to file the papers, sign the receipt, and let go of the broken promises of my past. They cannot have this much power over my present and future. I need to square all of this and get my life back in order.