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Posts tagged ‘divorce’

Fucked Up Fantasy Family

I'm not supposed to talk about my brother. No ranting about him to my husband. No skewering him with my friends. Especially no writing about him in public. Most of you didn't even know I had a brother, did you? That's how well I've followed an old directive.

Well. Screw that. Here's to making up for lost time.

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Touched for the Very First Time

The first time with my fiance, I just knew it.

With vivid clarity, I remember the exact moment I knew I should back out of my wedding. I was twenty-three. I'd known my betrothed for six weeks when he proposed. He wanted to be in the ministry. Came from a good family. And, he was a pretty, pretty boy.

But, I can see his face contort when he screamed at me the first time. His voice still pings around my memory, along with the crunch as he plowed the car into the grassy shoulder.

And turned.

And erupted.

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You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin’

I wanted to tell you, right up front. I did everything I could to win my little girl back. Everything I had wasn’t much back in 1972, you know, but I shot through it all to get her away from Nadine. Us Dixieland guys, even the popular ones like I was, we didn’t jam for the money.

Losing it all was how I wound up here, in Nashville. I mean, what was the point of being in New Orleans? I couldn’t see Emmaline, ever. Dat Judge character and Nadine, well, they made sure of it. No matter how much I appealed, how high I tried to go, I lost. Every time, I lost.

Lost all my fans, too. It was like somebody was behind it all, whispering, because, one by one, people stopped booking me. The telephone dried up so, I thought it was disconnected. Look, I know I sound paranoid, but you try losing your sweet baby daughter and your livelihood in the span of twelve lightning-fast months, and see how you feel.

Oh, and I forgot to mention my friends, maybe because they, like, forgot all about me. At the end of dat whole business, I had exactly one friend left. One. He owned the oldest bar on Bourbon. You know dat one, right? It used to be a blacksmith’s shop, but nowadays, they just serve booze.

Well, he reached out to me and gave me this one lead. “Call Big Rosie up there in Nashville. She’ll give you something to do.”

I remembered laughing in his face. I mean, I wasn’t some sad sack, sorry-assed, hick-i-fied country music performer. Hell, I hated dat stuff. But, you know, when someone was desperate, when they felt like they didn’t have anything else? Well, adjusting things like ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ got easier. And, when it wasn’t easy, proper lubrication made the rest of it go down.

So now, strumming a damn guitar and singing hee-haw was all I had. No matter how much I tried to lose myself in the twangy chords, the words still tasted funny, like, foreign in my mouth. I mean, I been at it for almost two years now, but it still doesn’t feel…….real. I guess I use booze to blunt my ripped edges and women to feel less by myself, but when I try to write all dat, to pour all my anger and frustration and drunk-ass loneliness into the words, it all sounds so cliche.

Dat’s what I am. One sorry, hang-dog cliche who misses his little girl so much he’s afraid to write it down and sing it out.



Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching

Smile by Nat King Cole became my divorce anthem, in the days and months after I ended my first marriage. I sang it curled up in the corner of my bathroom, crying on the cold linoleum. I hummed it under my breath at a lunch meeting, when, mid-sentence, tears would assault my eyes in front of a stranger across the table. I wailed it at three o’clock in the morning, when everything about my life was uncertain, when my Dad had gone back home and I was still afraid to stay by myself, when I needed to hear any sound but what came screaming out of the silence.

Marrying the wrong man was not in my life plan. Okay, I’m sure most people who get divorced don’t PLAN for the whole business to last sometime less than forever, but until that point in my life, I’d never failed. At anything. Through the sheer force of my steely will, I’d always been able to make any situation turn out for me in the end.

I don’t write much about my first marriage, because I don’t like to dwell on it. But. One of the best things I’ve ever written (if I were judging my writing) is a work of fiction about the unraveling of a marriage. You can read it here.

Getting out of a bad marriage is almost routine. Lots of things can make a bad marriage. We grew apart. We wanted different things. I just wasn’t happy anymore.

I always look back on that time in my life as a survivor. I survived my first marriage. I had a friend who looked at me near the end and said, “I don’t want to see you the next time in the emergency room. Or worse. I don’t want you to become one of those statistics, the ones that come out of houses in body bags, their lives snuffed out in a few microcosmic seconds of passion.” Until that conversation, I never really believed I was That Girl. THAT happened to other women, ones with fewer choices than I had. Ones who were trapped. Ones who couldn’t find their way out of the screaming abyss of hell.

Until I realized I was in it. I found hell. Or, it found me. Somehow, we mated, and I was almost consumed by the burning heat of the flame.

In some ways, I owe my life to that song. It made me, one faltering note at a time, the survivor that I am.

Do you have a song that got you through a rough time in your life?

This post is part of the series The Soundtrack of Life. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here for the first installment, click here for the second installment, and click here for the third. MTM wrote a great guest post yesterday, which you can find here. Thanks for your contributions and insights in the comments. They always enrich this blog, especially in a series like this one.

A Shotgun Wedding

It had to be the appearance of the gun that sent her to the divorce attorney, because, let’s face it, guns were never her kind of thing. Even though he waved it in her face, pointed it at her, touched the muzzle to her chest, and threatened to shoot himself with it, too, she survived that night.

It’s just as likely he killed her anyway.

How does one ever recover from knowing she could’ve died? From seeing fleeting television images of those scary crimes of passion, the ones where multiple black body bags are carried from some bland ranch structure or ritzy mansion while the reporter drones on in the foreground, wondering how it all happened, pointing the camera in stricken faces and asking the extended family how they feel? She knew how it happened, in a freak series of rash actions and shouted words that culminated in something final.

For a while, she forgot to feel anything.

Marriage was supposed to be…..what exactly? The ultimate state of bliss? The natural order of things? The rest of one’s life with a good, caring person? The best path to have children? The thing she was expected to do next? She was still too young to really define it for herself, but her little-girl fantasies and teenage dreams never included hell on earth.

Hell wasn’t what graced her eyes the first time she saw him. The One. He was everything – EVERYTHING – she had been trained to seek in a mate. She still had her list, the one she made when she was sixteen or seventeen, taped between the pages of her Bible. When she pulled out the worn paper and held it up next to him, she thought she’d drawn his picture. Marrying him was the most natural thing she’d ever done.

The natural things were the things she tried to remember when he called her a tumbling fury of Very Bad Words, when maybe all she said was I don’t want to have that for supper or  I’m not ready to have people over or it’s too soon to have children. She never knew what might unleash the barrage of words she never really knew before she said I do. Through the haze of comment boxes that poured forth, obscuring his face, she tried to imagine the natural things, the secret smiles, the thrill of falling in love. Those comment boxes were pointy, though. They had gouging tips and sharp edges, could hack away pieces of her spirit until she recognized nothing but smoke and air, fog and mist, all things with no form, no surface, no shape of self to which to cling.

Sometimes, she thought it might be better if he just hit her. Shoving and screaming and driving the car really fast while pulling her hair didn’t seem to give him the release he craved. She locked herself in the bathroom, stared at herself in the mirror, made empty deals with herself. He said that was the last time. He promised not to do it again. Who are you? How did you ever wind up here?

A child was the ultimate weapon, the thing he knew would irrevocably control her, filaments that would snake from the tips of its fingers and toes. Those invisible fibers would wrap around her, consume her, while he watched from above, holding the wooden paddles attached to the strings. Succumbing would’ve been so easy, especially since she couldn’t remember all the little pieces of herself he’d already sheared away, scattered rubble that no longer fit together.

Guns and children. Children and guns. An explosive combination she recalled just in the knick of time. Tick. Tick. Tick…..

.  .  .  .

This is a work of fiction. The story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This post is part of a series. If the catchy title brought you here today, please follow the link to this post and read forward. And, stick around. There’s more to come.


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