I’ve Been Here Before. I’ll Be Here Again.

I’ve Been Here Before. I’ll Be Here Again.

-Can we talk about the last implantation?
-I’ve been waiting for you to talk about the last implantation. I’ve been giving you the silent treatment for the last two weeks waiting for you to talk about the last implantation.
-You’ve been giving me the silent treatment?
-Yup.
-Funny, I said, I didn’t notice.

Infertility is a time sink, a black hole. Time and space warp. Time, in particular, stretches out before you and collapses behind you, propelling you forward. The next menstrual cycle. The next appointment, The next round of injectables. The next insemination. The next consultation. The next implantation. The calendar rules your life in a way you never thought possible. It is a ruthless and intimate taskmaster. I kept my menstrual calendar in my Filofax. Every month I put little Xs next to the days I was bleeding and little dashes next to the days when I was most likely to be ovulating. When I had my requisite year of Xs and dashes, my doctors decided it was time to see a fertility specialist.

You learn a lot about your body and yourself when you’re trying to conceive. I learned that my menstrual cycle was 21 days long, which is on the short end of normal. I also learned that my periods were 10-12 days long. To put this into perspective, a woman’s menstrual cycle can be anywhere from 21-35 days long, the average cycle is 28 days. Menstruation typically lasts 3-5 days, but anything from 2-7 is considered normal. In a 28-days cycle ovulation typically occurs midway through the cycle. This does not mean that ovulation occurs on day 14 on the dot, but that it can occur anywhere from day 11 to day 21. In my case, if ovulation typically occurs midway through the cycle that would put it around day 10. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that I was bleeding, heavily, through my most fertile period-if I was fertile at all.

The first doctor we met with was all bravado and swagger. The walls of his office were covered with awards, newspaper articles, pictures of himself. His degrees were there somewhere. He sat back in his chair and nonchalantly told us the playbook, I think that’s what he called it. When I raised concerns about the condition of my uterus, he smiled and said why don’t you let me tell you what to worry about. I told him that after three hysteroscopic myomectomies and one laparotomy, I thought I was just as knowledgeable about my situation as he and that my concerns were justified. (In time I was proven right, but that’s a tale for another day.) As we left I thought, the only thing missing was a picture of his penis. We made our next appointment with a different doctor one known more for his clinical acumen than his bedside manner. He suited me perfectly.

In my experience, fertility clinics are not like other doctor’s offices. They are not looking to form a long-term relationship with you the patient. They want your treatment to be successful, they want you to come back when you want another child, and they want you to refer your friends. Everyone is enthusiastic and hopeful. They’re like cheerleaders. Ready? As the woman it’s your fault so you get the personal questions and invasive tests first, OK!  Great! Not responding to the drugs? That’s ok! Look at his sperm. It’s perfect! I remember feeling like the information I was getting was being dumbed down for my benefit; perhaps to spare my feelings. I looked around and saw that I was in a desperate place full of desperate couples. I wasn’t desperate.

As treatment dragged on we became like guests who’d overstayed our welcome. Between not responding to drugs, failed IUI attempts, a catastrophic fertilization failure where all of the embryos died, a successful fertilization of donor eggs, and four unsuccessful implantations, treatment dragged on for nearly four years. I freely admit that this part of my life is distorted and hazy. It’s like one of those stories where there are flashbacks within flashbacks. They ran out of reassurances. They never knew why procedure after procedure failed. I’d done the research and knew this was a roll of the dice at best. He took every failure to heart and could not understand why I didn’t. I tried to talk him into adopting or being a foster parent. You don’t know what you’re getting, he argued. I told him you didn’t know what you were getting with your own biological children. He asked, didn’t I want a little me running around? I told him the last thing I wanted was a someone running around with the same hangups and insecurities as me. Eventually they stopped talking to us. Eventually, he stopped talking to me.

A friend of mine asked me once if I felt like a failure as a woman. I shrugged and said that if my entire idea of myself as a woman was bound to my ability to reproduce then maybe I would, but it doesn’t so I don’t. The ability to have a baby doesn’t make one a woman any more than it makes one a man. If you’re young and/or immature when you have a child, you might have to grown up faster than otherwise. Then again, I have seen my fair share of couples where one partner takes care of the children and the other takes all the credit.  Who I am as a woman is about who I am as a person. I may not be the most conventional person, so I guess that doesn’t make me the most conventional woman. In the end I can’t be any other way.

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Why Are Most Quotes About Wives by Men?

Why Are Most Quotes About Wives by Men?

For whatever reason, call it the social contract, the idea of a natural progression of a relationship endures. You meet the right person. You fall in love. You marry. You have children. You raise children. Your children lead lives of their own. We see our parents, our friends’ parents. We hear it in the schoolyard,

“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes x in the baby carriage.”

It’s ingrained in us to such an extent that, of course, it’s natural. Why wouldn’t it be. Even those that claim to flout convention eventually pair up and have a child. Time passes. People mature. Relationships progress. I wonder if we wouldn’t be happier people if we didn’t allow ourselves to play Exquisite Corpse with our definitions of a successful relationship. Time passes. People progress. Relationships mature. We don’t allow for mature relationships until after children are grown. We equate maturity with getting to know each other all over again. It will be like a second honeymoon! What fun! Unless you don’t know each other any more. I didn’t see a difference between my idea of relationship unfolding and maturing and his belief that a relationship needed to progress along a more traditional path. I want a relationship that will mature, develop complexity and richness, outside of a traditional path. It’s a shame that it took me 14 years to figure that out.

Recently I found myself party to a conversation where the subject was being someone’s wife. One of my friends said she did not and does not ever see herself as a wife. When I was younger I didn’t either. Then again, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I seldom dated. Guys never saw me that way. I was the cool girl who was the friend and confidante-period. “You’re so cool. You’re awesome. Why can’t more girls be like you. Do you know Heather? Do you think she likes me?” I died a little inside every time. As I got older, I saw myself possibly being a wife, but not in a traditional marriage. I was raised in a faith that forbade cohabitation, which, in retrospect, is better suited to my temperament. If I wanted to be in a long-term, committed relationship it was marriage or nothing. I saw myself in an equal partnership with a man; sharing but at the same time having our own lives.

Then I became an actual wife and all of a sudden I felt like I was doing everything. I did the laundry, the dishes, the grocery shopping. I paid the bills and schedule doctors’ appointments. I cleaned, badly; mostly because I didn’t have the time to clean the way I like which is to remove everything, scrub down the space, and put everything back. I took care of the dry cleaning. I packed his bags for trips and unpacked them when he got home. I made our travel arrangements. I took the car in for routine maintenance. I took the cats in for routine maintenance. I did the dishes and made dinner on the weekends. The only things I didn’t do were cooking on weekdays and  calling the contractor when repairs needed to be made. All this while working full time. We discussed the unequal distribution of domestic labour at great length, but nothing changed. He asked why I was so tired. One day he had me write down my daily schedule for a week. He saw that I was booked from 6:30am-9pm most weeknights, booked from 7:00am-9:00pm most Saturdays, and booked from 7:00am-5:00pm most Sundays. After that he helped around the house for two weeks. My woman’s work was never done. I was run down and resentful.

Did I mention he worked from home?

I ask myself, what did we do?  We barely went to the movies. We had a 46″ television screen and to him it was better than going to the movies. We hardly went to the theatre. We never went to the philharmonic. We went to the opera once. I did these things more often in the first six months after our divorce then we did when we were married. We watched television, far too much television he complained. He played video games. We read books. He talked endlessly about his interests. But most of the time we did nothing.

His mother did everything. When we visited she would have out laundry folded and ready by the time we left. I usually washed and dried. She claimed to have trained her husband but when she started working it was regular visits from a cleaning woman who kept their home spotless. She did not train my ex; leaving that, she said, to me. I told her it was not my job to train her son. More fool me as it became my job all the same. She didn’t like my response. Perhaps she felt it inferred a failing, or the idea that the wife training the husband was a little old fashioned, like I didn’t have anything else to do. My son is a sexist cretin and it’s your job to remake him, I couldn’t. He hid his sexism well. My father told me of a conversation he had with my ex during our grad school years. My father told him he could do a better job of helping around the house. My ex’s response was that it was not part of his culture. There was no glamour in housework. He couldn’t show off like with cooking. We hadn’t failed at much over the course of our lives, my ex’s mother and me. She went back to work, climbed the corporate ladder, and supported the family. I had worked my way from not much and supported myself admirably. This, however, was a spectacular failure and we both knew it. Did you see this coming? she asked at the end. No, I replied. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Now that we are apart, I see that this was inevitable. Had it not been for his overwhelming case of babyfever, it would have been something else. I know that now.

She and others have asked how/why I lived with it for so long. Simple, I thought it would change. He’d get the tenure-track position he always wanted. We’d start over. Our therapist asked me if something else in his life had worked out the way he planned, would our lives have been different. Looking at this parallel universe, the hard truth is that it our lives wouldn’t have been any different at all. I would still be doing all of the menial, domestic chores. What’s more, if we had a child I would be taking the child to and from daycare and seeing to all of her or his needs. He would bring the child to parties, not get up for feedings. I would have been ground to nothing and he would bask in all the glory that comes when you do everything the world says you’re supposed to do.  If, in this parallel universe, we were unable to have children, then things would have been identical. His babyfever would still hit. He would still be the one who wants to leave but doesn’t want to be  bad guy. I would be the one to leave.

Funny how a parallel universe can look just like this one.

 

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

In spring, they say, every man’s fancy turns to love. Perhaps it should be every man’s biological clock ticks a little louder. I say man deliberately. I choose my words carefully. I sensed a restless tick! tick! BOOM! in him that I never heard in myself. I often think he tried to transfer his biological clock to me to make me think I wanted something that I really didn’t. I think there are men who do this and succeed. My ex nearly succeeded. The day we filed for divorce I came home from work to find him on JDate. Any prospects? Yup. You hungry? Yup. It was all very anticlimactic, almost banal. I think we even went out to dinner.

His pursuit of other women began almost immediately after the initial filing. It was laughable, really. While out for a drink one afternoon with friends I watched as he hit on a young bisexual woman who was in a committed relationship with another woman. It made me think back to a time when we were first married where he said the only thing wrong with me was that I wasn’t bisexual. Apparently, bisexual women exist purely for his pleasure. That would change, of course. By the end, there would be so much wrong with me it would start tirades. His disregard for my presence was brazen. His conduct made others in our party visibly uncomfortable. Some clueless men are cute when they flirt. For him to flirt would have required tact and subtlety and a fundamental shift in his attitude towards women.

The second outing during the mandatory 90-day cooling off period was at a housewarming party hosted by mutual friends. I sat on the sofa next to the other cool married woman and watched him work the room: pursing his lips, knitting his brows, nodding, weaving. I’d seen his father do the same countless times when holding court. He looked out of place, odd, like a crane or a flamingo in a duck pond or a rabbit warren. As I drove h0me, he regaled me with tales of conquest-particularly or this “hot chick”, a “seven-out-of-ten” (his words, not mine)-over her pathetic boyfriend. In he end, she went home with her boyfriend and I drove the conquering hero’s inebriated ass home.

In separation, as in marriage, we were always together. It was nice when we were first married but it wore on me after a while. It wasn’t that we did everything together, we had to do everything together. We were involved in all the same projects, mostly his projects. I was roped into things to ensure we projected a united front. The longer our marriage went on, the more insistent be became on projecting this image. When he announced our separation, the constant togetherness confused people. It got worse. It turned into see how together we are? See what a great team we are even in separation? One person I told, thinking (mistakenly as it happens) that he already knew, commented that we were always together and we seemed to get along so well. People didn’t think it was real. My ex admonished people not to feel that they had to pick sides. I knew they were going to choose sides no matter what I asked.

I knew he was on a full-fledged fishing expedition but it really hit home when he started taking our young, single, female friends aside to tell them the news. It was like watching the Annunciation. Behold! I give you good tidings of great joy! For, yea, my wife and I are getting divorced, it is amicable and I have chosen you above all others to hear this news. Every time he took another friend aside, I half expected to hear Handel. I was able to gauge his interest by what he told them and how; was it one-on-one or in groups or pairs? One-on-one meant interest. Otherwise, she was safe. When he escorted one particular friend out of a bar, my suspicion that he had a crush on her was confirmed. It was obvious that he liked her and his constant denials were more about saying I was wrong and keeping me in my place. When she strolled back in, planted her hands on my table and said, I love you, my suspicion that the feeling was not mutual was also confirmed. Several months later I mentioned her to my ex he was rather blase about his crush on her. It ended, he said.

Other women pursued him too. One day he got a phone call from an acquaintance asking if wanted to accompany her to an outdoor art festival. Have fun on your date, I said. It’s not a date, he replied. I explained to him that when a woman phones you and invites you to an art show, it’s a date.  They seemed at first glance to be well suited to one another. They’re both intelligent, nerdy, but I got the sense that she was more interested in him than he in her. The more I got to know her the more I realised why he wasn’t interested; she was too smart, too independent, too secure, and too strong for him. She wasn’t damaged like I was and he couldn’t get a toehold. I have a long fuse and finally one day it blew. The chapter on my marriage closed and this new part of my life started.

 

Bookends

Bookends

When people marry they think it’s forever. Theirs will be the union that defies the odds and stands the test of time. They will weather all storms, take on all comers, and live in marital bliss until they pass away (love never dies) holding hands in adjoining hospital beds. Their bodies will always be beautiful and perfect and never fail them. The sex will always be spiritual and hot. Their children will be model citizens. Best friends to the last.

“Old friends/Sit on a park bench like bookends…
Can you imagine us years from today/Sharing a park bench quietly/
How terribly strange to be seventy…” –Paul Simon.

I didn’t think of forever. I couldn’t picture us years into the future. For me, getting through the day-to-day was enough. The future was for other people. This is not to say I don’t plan at all. The circumstances of my upbringing have made me a compulsive planner. I always have a plan.

My first friend got married at 17, practically a week after she graduated from high school. She was divorced at 18 and had her daughter at 20. The next clutch of friends married at nineteen. Some marriages survived, others didn’t. I remember sitting between two friends who had just returned from college on winter break, each discussing what she would borrow from the other when she got married. Where had my friends gone and who were these changelings? The next group married at 21, then 23, then the last at 25; the last except for me. I was 34, long after my family and friends had given up hope.

My mother was at a loss. She asked when I was going to get a boyfriend like my friends. Why didn’t I have a date to the prom like my sister? (My sister is the only person I know to go to two senior proms without having repeated a grade.) When I was 19 my mother asked if I was a lesbian. I asked her what if I was? Her response was to say she would throw herself off the nearest bridge. When I would come to her for hugs she would say you’re too old to get love from your mother. You need a boyfriend. My relationship with my mother has always been complicated. It’s as though because she’s my mother she thinks she knows me when she knows nothing about me.

When I was 21 I fell very much in love with a friend of a friend of mine. He was tall and solid with long fingers and large brown eyes. He was quiet and shy to the point of endearing. I had friends who claimed to hate him because he didn’t talk. We talked all the time. One afternoon he phoned me as he watched a little boy on his Big Wheel ride up and down the block. He’s so happy, he said, he nearly put his Big Wheel under a car. I wish you could see it. I tend to romanticise him and make more of our situation than it was. I fell in love where I was his rebound relationship. His girlfriend had left him without explanation and just like one of my wiser friends warned at the time, when he needed a shoulder I was there. At the same time he was my first love and my introduction to the adult world of intimacy and pleasure. My sister and I learned about sex fairly young-we were shipped off to a sex education class taught by a nurse practitioner organized by a group of parents-sex was not a topic of conversation. Our mother saw sex as a duty, an obligation, a means to an end. (If she didn’t actually see it that way, she certainly didn’t let on.) Intimacy was never discussed and pleasure was not even on the radar.

He wasn’t my introduction to the adult world of sex. That came much earlier. When I was nine years old I went to school one day and during a private music lesson my teacher told me to sit on his lap, unzipped the fly of my pants, and reached inside. He told me he was making sure I was breathing properly. He was very quiet after that. I felt small and strange and ashamed.  There was a lump in his trousers. We sat in absolute silence. I was never alone with him again. His attention didn’t waver, it changed. He teased me about my clothes and my hair. That I wasn’t a teacher’s pet told me there were others. When he was caught a decade later I learned how countless those others were. I came home that day a different girl-one who stopped talking. The silence of that afternoon infected me and I’ve been silent ever since.

An evening in May started with me sitting on the roof of a red Nissan Sentra in the pouring rain giving the brunette man in the driver’s seat a come-hither glance through the windshield. Charlie Parker played through the open windows as he slipped behind me. As we listened, he softly, almost imperceptibly, kissed a drop off my neck. We’d been friends for long enough that he knew everything and hadn’t run screaming; instead reassuring me with patience, gentleness, and we don’t have to do anything you don’t want. That night holding him in my arms, caressing his neck, his back, his shoulders-feeling that mass, that heat, that gravity-I felt a connection to my own body I had never felt before and have struggled to find since. And then he did something extraordinary. He began asking my permission, barely above a whisper. May I kiss your throat? May I touch your leg? May I touch your thigh? I consented time and again, and then I gave the orders. That night changed the dynamic of all our future encounters. Then one day he said, I care about you very much but I can’t do this anymore.

I hate that a man took my connection to my body from away from me. I’m angry that I have to fight to get that connection back. It saddens me that I stopped feeling that connection to myself in my marriage. My natural state, it seems, is to glide above the surface or disappear beneath the waves.

Tiberius and Vipsania and the Ties that Bind

Tiberius and Vipsania and the Ties that Bind

Tiberius never wanted to divorce Vipsania. When her father died leaving her stepmother, Julia the Elder, a widow, the Emperor Augustus (Julia’s father) acted. Augustus forced Tiberius (his stepson) to divorce Vipsania and marry Julia. How forced it was is open to question. Tiberius was an ambitious man and such an advantageous match cemented his position as heir apparent. If Robert Graves is to be believed, Tiberius attributed his ambition to his mother, Livia’s, constant pressure, “it is our mother who  makes me so,” he says to his brother Drusus. Tiberius’ ambition was fulfilled in the end. He became Emperor.

Ambition came to be the snake in our garden. He had such grand plans: marriage, finish his PhD, a couple of top-flight postdocs, tenure-track position at a top-notch research school, two children, all with his dutiful wife at his side. My ambitions were not so lofty. Wherever we went I needed to work. It was that simple. I had grown up without much and I was not going to be in a position where I could not support myself. I knew the two-body problem meant moving around a lot, something that I was not too keen on; having an established career and all. I suggested that we be a bicoastal couple. I would remain in New York, he would take the postdoc out west, and we would see each other whenever we had enough vacation time.  He’d fly east and I’d fly west. He didn’t think it was a good idea that we be apart so early in our marriage. I didn’t think it made a bit of difference. I thought it would be fun. I thought our rendezvous would have been hot and exciting, with a touch of the illicit. He was adamant in his disagreement and so I packed my masters degree and we started off on our journey, secure in the knowledge that I could get a job anywhere.

When we arrived in the middle of nowhere in the intermountain west, I knew it was going to be a long-haul. Watching Sesame Street made me homesick for New York. I was isolated and alone. I found it hard to relate to people who found me to be a “fast-talking, hard-charging New Yorker”. After six months, I got an adjunct position and held on. The second postdoc brought us to small town California. I was unable to get any work in my field, despite multiple interviews, so I looked elsewhere. When I showed up at a local fast-food restaurant who put out an open call for job seekers, I found scores of men chatting away in Spanish in line ahead of me. I left, went home, and cried. I spent all day indoors: cooking, cleaning, running errands, watching movies, not talking to anyone. At dusk I would venture out and go for walks. His bosses ran out of money and eight months later we were driving back East with another postdoc, this time in Philadelphia. This was his third postdoc in three years.

The cracks in our relationship had become full-blown fissures. I was devastated mentally and emotionally. I was also recovering from major surgery. He had come to see me as a childlike invalid, and yet he set me up with herculean tasks. He gave me four days to find an apartment. He bet me I couldn’t get the apartment packed in a month. I wasn’t supposed to lift anything over 15lbs. Three years after his PhD and there was no tenure track position, no house, no children. His bossed had all been stupid and had not seen his full potential. The market was bad, but it wouldn’t last forever. It was just us, but it wasn’t us against the world. He had interviews that came to nothing. He was invited to and took a fourth postdoc, only to leave before being fired. We bought a house, but I never really found my place; never settled in. We tried having a child, but that’s a tale for another day. He became more and more rigid and distant and mean and desperate. The physical tics got worse. He stopped holding my hand, stopped being affectionate. He said he couldn’t stand it when affection didn’t lead to sex. I told him I didn’t like it when sex didn’t start with affection or asked what’s wrong with affection for its own sake. He became coarse and crude-grabbing my crotch (I hate that word) or pinching my nipples. It’s fun once in a while, but not all the time. It reached a point where I didn’t know to whom I was coming home.

They say life is what happens in between plans. Life didn’t happen the way that he wanted, but he couldn’t change his plan. If anything he held to it more tightly than ever. This is what I want. This is what I deserve. This is what I will have. I tried reaching out, making suggestions, but tired of being rebuffed I withdrew. His mother made suggestions; she didn’t know what she was talking about. In the end, I made the change he could not when I told him, if you are unhappy I do not want to be the cause of your unhappiness. Looking back, I think he wanted out much sooner.

One night, this was when we still lived in New York, I came home from work to find him grumpier than usual. He said he was hungry. When I asked him why he didn’t eat, he said he wanted to wait and eat dinner with me, which I thought was rather sweet. I told him to have a snack next time so he wouldn’t be so hungry, then we could have dinner together. His response was, we need to talk. He gestured to the living where I sat down. He sat down and said your job is having a negative effect on our marriage. I said this job is what allows us to live in this apartment. It also allows you to keep seeing your neurologists and me to keep seeing my doctors. This job is what allows us to go on vacation once in a while. I’m not quitting. This is important to me. After that, the epostcards and gifts he  sent while away at conferences stopped.

In the end, he will get what he wants. His ambition, like Tiberius’,  will be fulfilled.

 

 

 

 

And so it begins

And so it begins

When I was young, in my early teens, girls my age were encouraged to keep journals. We were to document our lives meticulously-for posterity, we were told. Our children’s children’s children would take in our tales like we absorbed the tales of the pioneers; Dad? (it was always dad) tell me again about our great aunt/grandmother. It didn’t really take with me. For one thing, I was weary of tales of pioneers crossing the plains in the dead of winter, facing death and persecution at every turn. My life was excruciatingly dull. My sister and I were model children. We were A students who went to school, went to work, went to church, and did what we were told. I read, listened to music, and was a dutiful daughter who did her chores, helped her mother around the house, and never, ever dated. More importantly, however, I never pictured myself with any progeny. There wouldn’t be anyone to take one of my diaries down from the shelf and pore over the pages, no one to read the exploits I never had. Which is why I found it so strange about five years ago when I found myself reviewing forms from a local fertility clinic; and stranger still when my husband tried to rush me into signing with an ultimatum, if you don’t want this, then we need to reevaluate our relationship. I was not rushed and kept reading. I wanted this, or at least I thought I wanted this. In the end, I didn’t want it. Shortly after Pesach 2015, we agreed to go our separate ways.

It started as a thought exercise: we would spend the week apart and we would visualize the same thing, picture our lives if we stayed together and if we separated. When I tried to picture our lives together I could only get so far-my inability to have children. Then I saw our lives plunging down the rabbit hole of more donor eggs, more rounds with a gestational carrier until eventually we found ourselves in the same place, a thought exercise. When I pictured our lives apart, I saw myself alone, but happy. I saw myself moving into the city and doing the things I wanted to do. And I saw him living his life and having children with someone else. In the end each of us would have the life she or he wanted. I tried this exercise over and over again, but the result was always the same. Our marriage was over. Ten minutes after he got home from his week away, I said we need to talk. The conversation itself lasted less than 15 minutes. In the end he said, we know what we need to do and we hugged.

I kept it to myself. He went off the leash.

Our divorce was remarkable for its lack of animosity. We had what some would consider a good divorce. We submitted the initial filing in April 2015, filed for divorce in July 2015, and our divorce became final in November 2015; one week after my 46th birthday. We were still on speaking terms. He asked if I minded if he continued to attend our mutual synagogue.  I said I didn’t. We settled our financial affairs and our property with minimal fuss. He bought me out of the house and I stayed there until I found a new place to live. I had enough to put a small down payment on a condo and buy paint. He helped me paint and I moved into my new place on 1 September 2015 (any later and he was going to start charging me rent). I spent the next six month settling in, unpacking boxes when I felt like it and exploring my new neighbourhood when I didn’t.  For those six or seven months, I was free in a way I had not been since I was a young single woman thriving in New York with the world by the ass. Then around the time he announced his new relationship, I saw Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” sketch and went oh god, and the grief hit. “I’ve been waiting for this,” my mother said, “You’ve always been a delayed griever.”

We think that because there is no drama that there is no grief. Yours was an amicable divorce, you had no children, YOU wanted this, why are you sad? What is there to grieve?  Your life is your own. You can be selfish. (The ones who say that think you’re being selfish.) It turns out that when you’re in a relationship with the same person for 14 years, there is a lot to grieve. I mourn the time when it was us against the world. Our marriage crumbled under the weight of unmet expectations and in the end, the world won. I mourn for the person I was before I caved under the pressure of relentless negativity. I miss her. I’m fighting to get her back. I’m angry that I ignored some warning signs and missed others.  I’m mad as hell that I actually think my last fuckable day passed while I was still married. That even though I think I’m more attractive and interesting and sexier than I’ve ever been in my life that the rest of the world disagrees and I am invisible. Why? Because I’ve always been invisible. I’m the one who’s had it together all along but has always been the friend, the confidante. Which brings me to the greatest loss I feel at the moment. The longing is intense. It’s insane. I am starved for affection. To me, men have their own mass, their own gravity; they’re like planets. Being in a relationship, when it works, is like being in a binary star system. When one goes, the other goes off-kilter. I am off-kilter, even though, and this is the most surprising thing of all, I don’t miss my ex-husband.