Separate is the way we come together.
Separate pieces, or parts, require something to hold them together. A fastener, a clip, a staple, or even a gentle fold can keep two pieces of paper together. Tape, rubber bands, ribbons, glue, thread, rope, nails, and screws can also be used. A promise, a handshake, and a hug, are some of the ways the body joins with another body. A contract or an agreement, this is how we are legally joined.
Separation is the way we split apart. It requires a tearing, a ripping, a severing, a removal of something, or…another contract or agreement.
Torn, or “ripped apart”, we say. It is violent, it is breathtaking, and it is painful. The pain sometimes lasts just for a minute, but often it can go on for months or even years.
I separate from my two children every two weeks. Per our custody agreement, my ex-husband and I each have our children for two weeks at a time. It works out better for the kids to not have to move every weekend, and I have always thought it was better than the horrible schedule many divorced parents have, a mid week sleepover and every other weekend. Around the time we began this arrangement, I was fortunate enough to get a job out of town. It helped make the loss of time with my children easier to bear. I just pretend I am going on a trip and that they are with a babysitter. The feeling of this separation calls back to the initial separation I felt when they were born.
Both of my children were born by C-section. It is an unnatural way of separating from one’s young. It is an operation where those in charge are literally taking something from you, forcing a separation between you and your sweet creation.
Divorce is also a forced separation. For 15 years I was married to another person. The year and half prior to our wedding, we dated, then we would spend short periods of time at each other’s homes, and then finally, before the wedding, we moved in with each other. Like every stitch seeks to further bind two pieces of fabric, we wove ourselves together.
Once we decided to get divorced we began the task of separation. Now, one could say that after many a violent episode we had already begun this task, at least I had, but when you are a couple you have habits, and we all know how difficult breaking habits can be, especially bad ones.
Every act of separating from the person you once loved enough to attach yourself to in the first place, is a ripping, a tearing, and a very painful process. Even if that person was abusive, or did something that made the separation necessary, separating is difficult.
It begins with small cuts, dividing possessions. It progresses to contusions, no more sharing, only thinking in terms of one, dividing friends and family. It rapidly moves to lacerations, dating others, and then finally the dismemberment, taking the children, leaving the children, and the fear of losing the children.
In the age of cell phones, email, and social media in general, it becomes exponentially difficult to stop contact. Habits you see. And it is not always just your ex-spouse; it can be their girlfriends, or family or mutual friends that make it difficult.
I have a friend who said to me once “Terry, it takes two years to truly separate after a divorce, even if you think it should take less.” Yes, I have always been the overachieving, Type A, “rip off the Band-Aid” type of person, but in a divorce it is more like scabbing, only right when you feel like the scab has fully formed, and the healing begun, someone, your ex, comes and rips it off, resulting in more bleeding, and like the medieval medical practice of the same name, it leaves you weak.
I think it is important to begin healing after a divorce, rebinding, if you will, to others, and sewing yourself up, becoming whole again. The dissolution agreement, which is what my divorce agreement is called, begins this. You can craft exactly what you want in this agreement; there are very few actual requirements. It begins the process of how you will forever again be separate.