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What My Life is Like After Divorce



Life After Divorce

I started this blog before my daughter turned one. I wasn’t sure what it was, a craft blog, a food blog, a lifeline? The dark secret is that I’d started it after a particularly terrible conversation with my husband at the time about my job. Including my commute to my Beverly Hills office I was away from my baby ten hours a day, 5 days a week. I hated that. I’d never wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I needed more time with my baby. Could I work part-time? Just for a while? Could we make that work? The conversation didn’t go well. I’d ended the night crying myself to sleep, not an uncommon occurrence in the 12 years I was married. I started the blog as a way to give myself options, as a way to have more control over my life. And, in reality, as a way to ignore that emotional cancer that had been killing my marriage for years.

Jackie Dodd4

I’ve talked about the man I married on this blog. About how wonderful he is, what a great dad he is, how talented he is. All those things are true, I believe them more today, 3 months after the divorce is final, than I ever have. I needed to, I needed to remember that he was a human, a man I love, a man who is the father of my baby girl, a man who is also hurting. I needed to remember those things, see him for all of who he is, it helped me stay sane during the worst year of my life.

After all, I was never going to be this girl. I was never going to be divorced, an unmarried mom, I wasn’t. We were the perfect couple. We met when I was 16, became fast friends, started dating when I was in college, married before the University diploma arrived in the mail. It all looked so charmed from the outside. Living in LA, we traveled a lot, we hung out with celebrities and went to the fun parties. We never once fought in public, never. We laughed a lot, our deep friendship was instantly apparent. But then there were the moments we wouldn’t talk about, those dark nights that once the light of morning shone in the bedroom we’d pretend didn’t happen. We were both in denial about the poison that was taking over. And no one saw it. Not one. Least of all us.

Then came Tater, our perfect little girl with her beautiful smile and her tomboy ways. She made the picture even more perfect. It also made the problems bigger, harder to ignore. It gave the poison a foothold. Still, no one knew. Both of us still trying desperately to turn away from the truth, ignore it and hide in the few shadows there were left to hide in.

Family Photo 2012 2

The thing no one tells you about divorce is how traumatic it is. How, in some ways, it’s worse than a death. It’s a grief wound that seems to constantly reopen. And no one shows up to your door with a casserole or sends flowers when you get divorced. Of all the friends I had in Los Angeles, not one person called to see if I was ok. Not one. No one knows what to do, what to say, how to act, so they leave. You’re alone. I have a sister who is so amazingly supportive, loving, and non-judgmental I wonder how people survive this without someone like her. I have a mom who is pure love, who calls to check in on me at just the right moments. And I have Chris. I still have him as a support.

chris tater

I married Chris when I was 22, spent my 20’s with him, bought a house, had a baby, moved six times with him. He is, and always will be, one of my closest friends. How did we do it? I wonder sometimes, looking back at the past year, how we managed this. When every part of who you are is screaming at you to wage war on the person you are divorcing, when you know it would be easier to slide down into a pit of hate and anger, we didn’t. We’ve gone through this together. He’s been loving, patient, kind. We’ve tried to be good to each other, respect each other, support each other. It’s sucked. It’s been the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, and it’s one of the things that I’m most proud of. I’m proud that we managed to divorce well. Anyone can be good to a spouse, but can you be good to the person who has left you? Nothing will show your true colors like divorce. Chris has proven to be a man of character. I’m grateful for him. The hurt is still raw, the grief is still present daily, and we are still going through this, but we are doing it together. He’s a good man, he’s a wonderful dad. Let’s be honest here, he was particularity horrible at the husband stuff, but the other stuff he’s incredible at. I’ve clung to that. That my daughter has a great dad, that I still have a family, one that in some ways is more whole than it ever has been, more honest than I ever though it could be, we are just a family that lives in two different houses.

chris jackie claire

So how am I now? I’m a lot of things. I’m happy in ways I never have been. I’m also more devastated than I ever thought I could be. I’m fulfilled in ways that I haven’t ever been in my life before now, and I’m ashamed in other ways. I’m broken and I’m healed. It’s a process.

How is Tater? She, thankfully, is doing the best of the three of us. She is loved well. We have both become better parents through this. She gets a better version of mom, and of dad. We still see each other at least once a week, we try to have dinner or breakfast and check in with each other. We’ve done this ever since I moved out. Sometimes it seems unbearably hard, sometimes it’s wonderful, but it’s always worth it. We even spent the holidays together, Thanksgiving at my sisters, Christmas eve at Chris’ house, and Christmas at my place.

How is Chris? He’s a lot of things too. Mostly, he’s growing. As a man, a partner, a parent. He’s honest with himself. I’m proud of him. I’m glad he’s the father of my daughter. And I’ll spend my life telling Tater how great her daddy is.

tater chris