I can’t tell you how long this spring and summer have seemed…. the long hours of work, the endless legal preparations and hours spent in court.  I was relieved when we were finally just waiting for the last court date for the judge to grant the divorce.  I was still torn apart by what had transpired in my marriage, but there was no arguing with reality.  If these were the facts, there was no going back and getting out of that ugly relationship would be a gift.  I felt as though I should be using an Advent Calender to count the days (with a TUMS behind each little door) until it would finally be over.

The court date for the divorce and the latest renewal of the restraining order would be happening on the same day, so it was good to know that as long as everything went well (as in, the Ex behaves himself) there should be no reason that I’d have to return to court for a year.  I took some time during the afternoon before to go through my papers, make sure I had everything in order and also, look in my closet to see what I would wear.  Our previous court dates were somewhat informal.  I wore my best casual clothing, which meant newer jeans and a nice shirt; but this occasion called for something more presentable.  An inspection of my wardrobe revealed that I owned two dresses.  The champagne-colored dress I was married in and a coral pink sundress, boasting a cheerful tropical pattern.   Plus, I had two skirts, one in denim and the other, suede.  Somehow, neither skirt seemed appropriate.  I don’t own any dress slacks; just blue jeans.   Well, the wedding gown wasn’t a typical foo-foo white wedding gown, but it still wasn’t something I would wear outside of a fancy party.  It might give me some grim satisfaction to see the Ex’s face if I were to walk in wearing it, but, beyond that, there really wasn’t any point.  So, now I’m back to the coral pink sundress.  I’m out of options; it looks as though this is the choice.  I decided to wear it with a light-weight, white, wrap-around ‘poet’s blouse’ over it; both to tone down the color and protect me from the air-conditioned Court House.  It might sound like a funny combination, but actually, it worked well.  That, and my one pair of high-heeled shoes and a few pieces of garnet jewelry.

My life-long best friend was accompanying me, so I was meeting her at her place first, and she gave her stamp of approval to my outfit.  I so seldom dress up that she and her visiting sisters seemed shocked to see me, at first.  Since she is in the process of selling her home, she teased me; “Are you here to buy my house?”   The sisters sent us off with lots of encouraging words and I appreciated their attempts to cheer me.  Both had been through their own divorces, as had my friend; they knew what I was going through.

I’d hardly been able to eat in the days before.  I was exhausted; and both sick at heart and sick to my stomach.  We arrived early, and waited for our turn to be called.  The morning was made more interesting with the discovery that the restrooms at the Court House were non-functioning that day; this meant that we had do hike over to the Superior Court House next door if we needed to use the facilities and, of course, pass through security with x-rays machines and metal detectors each time.  I was glad that I hadn’t had time to have my usual cup of tea that morning.

The Ex arrived sometime after we did.  He waited in a adjacent room, separated from us by a glass partition.   He was wearing dirty, baggy jeans, with a welding hat stuck in his back pocket, a black shirt, and old cowboy boots, with his long hair pulled into a pony tail that reached half-way down his back.  He’d always had a slim build, but he looked as though he’d lost weight.  I tried not to look at him too much; not only because I was so creeped-out by him, but because since we’d split up due to his on-line search for extra-marital activities with men, women , he-shes and couples, I’d occasionally (maybe three times) looked at Craig’s List to see if any ads jumped out as me as belonging to him.  Just the day before, I’d looked again and saw something that wasn’t his, but looked as though it was written to him: “his name,  guy in black at Bear Week in P-town by the dock…. I didn’t get your number…..”  And now that he’d shown up dressed in a black shirt, all I could think of was that ad!  I mentioned it to my friend and we both had our moments when we’d look at him and giggle; there may have been a few remarks passed between us along the lines of: “I wonder if he’s been bear hunting?”  But I knew it wasn’t appropriate behavior, so I really tried to divert my attention elsewhere.   Besides, there were also times when I’d see him just sitting there, repeatedly pulling at his face as though it were made of clay and he was trying to form a new one.  UGH.

In the mean time, the people at the Court House were absolutely wonderful about working with me regarding a few issues I was having with him about the restraining order, which – surprise, surprise – he had been violating.  Nothing major, but still, violations.  They made sure I was comfortable and safe and were willing to talk to me behind the scenes to get all the information before we actually went in front of the Judge.  The Bailiff offered to stand with me in the Court Room, but I declined; even though my friend had to stay in the waiting area, the very kind lady from the Court House’s Domestic Violence staff  would be with me in the Court Room.

Our time before the Judge was relatively brief.  The Judge asked us questions, I answered honestly, I believe he did, too, but it didn’t help his case much that he was caught lying on his financial statement.  It was a moot point since I had turned down alimony, but it just goes to show that he’s prone to lying even when he doesn’t have to.  So, the Judge granted our divorce and not only renewed the restraining order for a year, but added that he can only contact me by email.

We had to wait around to be given our copies of the restraining order.  The Bailiff came up to me and again asked if I would like him to stand with me as we waited and he gently but firmly advised; “You really should have called the police, Ma’am, he was definitely violating the restraining order!  Those phone calls were harassment and he should not have come to your house!”

So, it was done.  It was now about 1:30 and my friend and I were both starving.  I had already told her that I would take her to lunch that day, so we went across the street to the quaint restaurant that had been operating on site since Revolutionary War times and we had a delicious meal on the patio.  Afterward, being so close to the largest town in the County, with the only Mall in the County, we went shopping.  I had actually wanted to go to Home Depot to pick up a few things, but my friend thought that my closet needed more help than my the rest of the home, so we wandered around Macy’s and Marshall’s and hit the sales.  Both of us found some nice items.   While we were out and about, my friend asked me what I was going to do with my engagement ring, which was a marquise-shaped man-made diamond solitaire on a gold band.  It wasn’t worth a whole lot of money, but it was pretty.  I told her she could have it for all the grief she’d been through with me during the whole divorce process.  I thought of the other ring, and two necklaces that he’d also given me n our over 8 years together and added that she could have them all.  She offered to buy them off me, but I said no, they really weren’t worth that much and, “Besides, you’ve earned them the hard way.”  She paused, looking at me and then nodded; “So did you.”

That night should have been just another night at home.   But, even though I was immensely relieved to finally have the legal process behind me, and I was looking forward to all the possibilities my future may hold; I allowed myself one last time to look back on the good days we had shared.  I dug out our wedding photos, seeing pictures of us when we were so happy, so in love, and I was so sure that we would be together forever.  Little did I know that the man I’d fallen in love with, never actually existed.  It was all a show.   Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I knew that this was a pointless exercise, but I guess it was my way of saying good-bye.

Life goes on and so will I.

Atlantic Ocean