Recently, I’ve had a number of people ask me about my separation, particularly why it was so long before it became a divorce. When talking about something that lasted more than 20 years, there’s a lot to say about that. So I’m going to write about it in some useful detail which, I hope, will answer all the concerns about it.
The tldr; version:
I was separated for 20 years for a variety of reasons. One was to have my kids all grown and gone so I would be as available for them as possible. Possibly the most complete answer is that I had to have the time, money and emotional energy necessary to push it through at the same time, and at least one of those was insufficient until the end. During that time, I did a lot of healing, processing and growing, developing a new set of skills with which I could avoid the failures of my first marriage.
The basic narrative:
The beginning of my separation has been documented in some detail on my website since 1994, both in my own words, and Faith’s. I’m not going to reinvent that particular wheel here. I attended ACT meetings for a year, then looked into Al-Anon for further support, then was invited to help co-facilitate ACT Meetings for a few years.
I became romantically involved with a friend for a couple of years, and we were planning to marry, pending my divorce, which didn’t happen. I made some more stupid choices that led to the end of that relationship, and she went on to marry someone else. We remain friends, although we don’t talk often. I am not in favor of romantic relationships while separated, but this was one of those things that nobody planned – it just kinda happened. I respect her and her choice to end the relationship and move on with her life.
I did not have another romantic relationship through the end of my divorce. I tried to learn from the choices I made in that, and it seemed to work.
When the separation was going on 20 years old, I took a moment to consider if I was still growing in a way that would justify not being single and seeking a life-long partner for even longer. I concluded that I wasn’t, so I decided to file, and did file again within days of that 20th anniversary. We set the date for what the law required after that – 90 days plus a few to get to the next day of the pro-se calendar. I showed up that day, answered the judge’s questions, and she signed, and I was divorced. Less unpleasant than I was afraid of, and that fear was one of the things that kept me from having sufficient energy to go forward with it over the years. I don’t like strangers with power having say over important things in my life. Just one of my issues.