When you get divorced, I suppose it’s like a death occurs in the family.
And I suppose that’s why you field questions for months - people are concerned that your shoulders are visibly stooped from a toxic form of grief.
“But how ARE you?” “Are you doing okay?” “Are you making it through the days?”
Their brows furrow together, and the concern is written all over their faces.
They like to ask how you pass the time - as if your now not-spouse was the only thing that ever occupied you. Who you really are is as lost to them as it is to you, and you kind of can’t blame them for forgetting. Your name was even lost in the fire, and when you picked it up, the letters left your hands ashy and dirty.
Everyone talks about how hard the nights are. How the darkness descends and the quiet suffocates and the blankets are not warm enough. Everyone likes to talk about the night.
But what about the morning? When the sun comes up and another day is fresh and clean and you wake up wondering if this is the day - if THIS is the day that things will finally feel less confused. You wake up, and you eat breakfast. Alone. You do your makeup and your hair. And you’re alone. You pull on your shoes, and you pour a cup of coffee that you brewed yourself, and you wonder
what happens to the rest of the pot?
Aimlessly, you look around your kitchen, and there’s no one else.
You dump the coffee out into the sink, and the steam feels hot like your tears, and yes. Mornings are suffocating and cold and quiet, too.
When people ask how you’re doing, the truth dances like the devil in between your lips. Do you think they really want to know how the dishwasher broke, or how you had to figure out how to reprogram the garage code with a phone call to the manufacturer? Do you think they really want to know about how you tripped over one of your newly minted not-spouse’s shoes, and you threw it so hard at the wall that you thought you’d probably leave a hole — and when it didn’t? You picked it up again and you threw it again and again. Over and over.
The truth dances between your lips like the devil and the stories dance across the heat of your breath in and out, and maybe they don’t care to know about how it feels like the dentist’s drill sounds, or how you don’t know how to just cook for one.
You put a bookshelf together by yourself and the toxic grief rolls off of your shoulders, and perhaps that’s not what people want to hear about, either. The victory of researching tire choices, or learning how to caulk the bathtub, or killing the spiders are bricks that heave off of your chest and suddenly, you start to think that maybe -
when people ask you how you are, maybe -
You just tell them that you’re fine.
Or that the sky still rains the same way, and people still don’t use their turn signals enough, and you have a date for next Saturday night.
You will tell them that you were destroyed. You will tell them that hope is coming back to you in chunks, and you’ve been using them as triage for the parts of your body that are bleeding the most. You will tell them that the fire from what you burned down has singed every single part of you - even the sparkling, unmarred part of your soul is charred.
You will tell them that walking back to yourself has been the longest hike, the hardest marathon, and the slowest sprint that you’ve ever taken.
And then, you will reintroduce yourself.
And you will use the ashy name that you saved from the inferno.