There remains one unfinished piece of business on Privilege. Several of you have asked me to talk about relationships, about marriage. And I haven’t.
In fact I am divorced. I feel shame even to type those words, but it is the truth. I was married, for 20 years. Separated in 2006.
In the world of divorces it wasn’t the best ever, nor was it the worst. I still live in the same house, my kids are doing well, the process was managed with as little visible drama as possible. And yet to think about the moment we announced our separation to the children still makes my eyes tear, and my throat hurt.
When I was young I had planned, as one does, to stay married always. I loved my family and the home we made. When the marriage ended I felt terrible for what I could not give my children any more. I wasn’t a woman scorned, not in any traditional sense, but that mitigated neither sorrow nor pain.
By now, a good deal of the initial tumult has passed. I am in a relationship, and happy. You might ask, “Why not tell us this before? Why the secrecy?” Good question. Because, once, when I talked about doing some writing, my daughter asked me what I would write about. I answered something like, “Oh, life, work, the sky, relationships.” “Don’t write about relationships, Mom, please,” she said. So I haven’t. And won’t, going forward. Nor will I write about anything here other than my own feelings.
You might ask, “Why say anything at all?” Because I needed to set the record straight. Because I cringe, so, when blog commenters doubt my veracity. Because I have to be sure that everything I say is as true as I can make it. If I’m going to hold forth on what I’m good at, I need to complete the picture with what I wasn’t very good at. Otherwise I just don’t feel right.
I don’t know whether there’s a High WASP spin on this or not. Maybe in the level of shame, in the feeling of failure that dogs me like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Maybe that I’d even use a term from Sherlock Holmes in this context. Maybe I can just tell you that when High WASPs divorce they get new furniture at Pottery Barn, unable to summon up sufficient discernment for custom upholstery. In that situation you need someone else to make it all go together.
But my guess is that culture and class matter less here than who we have become through living in our bodies and our hearts. My days are not sad now. But I am still sad and ashamed I got divorced.
Luckily the simplest of facts is true. Life goes on.
Have a wonderful weekend.