For Michelle, who inspired me to write today. And for Ana, who (as usual) brought up the hidden topic in me.
As I have mentioned before, I was married for 7 years, and have been divorced for 5. Getting married seemed like a no-brainer: I had left a horrible/beautiful relationship with a man that consumed me and brought me alive, and I had decided I needed a checklist of what I wanted, and most importantly, of what I didn’t want. So I met my ex husband: handsome, witty, kind, successful, intelligent, practical, and very, very Argentinian. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means the perfect combination of Latin American fire and undermined, european taste you can ever find. We met at a club. I was 23 and he was 32. We had a lunch date the next day (he needed to drive back to the city where he actually lived, since he was in my hometown for the weekend) and it was effortless and fun. We kept talking, he kept coming down to visit, he had to move to the US eventually, and we decided to get married because it was the only way I could come over and be together. There was no romantic proposal and he eventually got me an engagement ring (that I eventually lost -before the wedding) without much ceremony.
But I was happy. He met every single criteria on my checklist and every single item any girl could be looking for. And so, we got married, and so I left everything behind and came over to be with him. We laughed, shared, worked together, had each other’s back, took care of each other, and built a life; a present and a future. I became family of his family and he became family of mine. We bought a beautiful house and made it a home, supported each other in every decision and did those kind little things you do for people you care about. There was no stress, no doubt, no wondering, and it was perfect. But I wasn’t happy. And it was scary. How can someone not be happy when you have every single item on your checklist met and there’s nothing else you can ask for life? I don’t know, but I wasn’t.
After coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my environment, my job, my weight, my social life, or anything else, but the fact that the man I married didn’t make me happy, I decided to talk to him and ask for some time apart. He was shocked, and very much reluctant to accept the test, but he eventually did (mistake number 1). So I moved out and left my perfect house to live in an overpriced shitty shoebox of a place to find out if I missed my lifestyle or the man I was sleeping next to. And I also wanted to find out if he missed me enough to one night, come knock at my door, tell me to get my shit together and get back home or never come back again. But he didn’t. And I couldn’t quite figure out if I missed my partner or if I missed my life.
After months of therapy, individually and together, we decided for me to come back home and try one more time, now that we seemed to have an idea of what might have been wrong. So off I went with my stuff and moved back to the house. Practical as we both are, we decided we were going to give it until the end of the year (it was September) and if things didn’t improve, we were just going to cut the life lines. And so we did, the next January. Me moving out again (this time to a better apartment for which I signed a one year contract), divorce papers signed, house for sale. And before you can say “irreconcilable differences” I was sleeping alone in a one-one apartment, at 31 years old, not even having a clue of why I did what I did. Just following my gut feeling that something was missing; not a lot, but a little bit, and that was enough.
I took a risk. The risk of telling yourself you are not 100% happy and satisfied, maybe you are 90% there, but (like he told me some time after our divorce) I decided to make that missing 10% my 100%, and I left. In gambling, that is positively a bad deal. Why would you leave something that is almost perfect for the uncertainty of never finding perfection? I don’t know why, I don’t know if it’s smart, but I had to. But the real risk came with the consequence: can you actually, realistically expect to get that 100%? aren’t most married or coupled people there for the “almost perfect”? Isn’t it what compromise and love is about?
There is one thing I know now, and it’s been a hard lesson to learn: deciding you cannot take less than everything means accepting you might not get it, and most importantly, you need to be OK with the fact that you might not. I am not sure I am ok with the idea just yet. I still want to think that whatever that 100% means for me, is still out there, so I keep looking. I keep trying, I keep betting all my chips on what seems to be promising, and I keep eternally being disappointed. I sometimes with I could kill my hope, and just flip the switch that will one day make me realize that I don’t fit the mold, and that my happiness has a different shape and color, and I just need to embrace it. But I’m not ready yet, just not yet.