The personal part of my blog is going on an indefinite hiatus.
In January, I was hit with a bombshell. I am 5 months into my separation, heading towards a divorce. If a mortgage renewal smells like marital reconciliation to a judge in 2016, then I am only 3 months down this road. Regardless, by June 2016, I will not be married.
I have started so many blog posts on this topic and how it has made me feel. I have written abbreviated tell-alls. I have written about the fissure in my heart. I have written to defend myself. I have written about how I am moving on and moving on up.
Tell-alls point fingers at broken people. Downtown, there is a guy in a wheelchair who bellows, “Spare any change?!” from his chair. When you approach his location, he’s part of the background noise. When you lock onto his plaintiff sales pitch, you cannot unlock from it. As you move further away, his pitiable “Spare any change?” stays latched onto you for many blocks. That’s what keeping headspace for broken people feels like. What may be a lurid tale of lunchtime prostitution to some is someone else’s way to reconcile a rape or a childhood of abuse. It’s better to not uncover the unseemly because it masks the deeper scars under their bandages.
I don’t want to bare my heart. It’s not that I am afraid of being vulnerable, but because people cannot accept whole people who are garments made of brave and busted. When I was being gaslighted in 2010, I started on antidepressants. I was quick to admit this because it was a part of me and so I was unwilling to hide it. To those not on meds, I was crazy. To those who were also taking meds, I was a new confidant. When I realized that they were not needed and I stopped taking them, in some way I betrayed my confidants because I left their club and they could not. There are these walls that people set up to keep the embarrassing parts of their life hidden from others. Then they will throw over a rope and let in the select few. There are secrets I have that two people know about. There are secrets that one person knows about. There are secrets that hit their expiry date and I made them public domain. What I can say is that I seem a little low energy because, try as I might, I am still busted. If I sleep for more than five hours I have nightmares-- not the good zombie-with-a-chainsaw kind, but the dreams where my sexual identity is hijacked so that the healthy activities and past activities play out with a layer of humiliation and pain. It reminds me of an anecdote about a guy who would beat his dog while the dog was eating. Pretty soon, the dog equated food with pain. At night, I have two options: either I purposefully get too little sleep; or I get a full night of sleep punctuated with nightmares. I equate sleep with upset. That’s what the hole in my heart looks like: it’s the front door to a haunted house.
I have written to defend myself to counter my infamy. Society accepts some easy narratives: men cheat; women leave abusive husbands; men are bad. I started to see Erin before I left my wife. That relationship was launched with my wife’s encouragement. I didn’t know what my wife had been doing but she knew almost everything about my relationship with Erin. When the break-up happened, dozens of people turned their back on me (I think the body count is above 75 and still rising). I wrote and abandoned several posts where I tried to set the record straight. There’s no point: a bigot will look at a black man and see a slave. I would rather know bad people by their rancor than by their lies and setting the record straight would only let people bubble wrap their prejudice for easy shipping. In my defense: you don’t know what happened and if you’ve slotted me into a comfortable narrative, you’re wrong. But if you’re wrong and you’ve turned your back on me: thank you. I don’t want people in my life who hurt me.
I have tried to rebuild things. When Erin put in a 16-hour day doing painting and packing at the house, I was really moved and really grateful. I said that I was so happy to have a partner who would do that for me. One woman posted an angry screed on my Facebook wall about my passive-aggressive posts. Then, she blocked me. I have to shoot my sentiments through an arrow-slit. Facebook is socio-normative. If you are too happy, people may shoot you down. If you are too sad, people will block you. When the split happened in January, the ex-wife had a religious friend who was my acquaintance. I messaged him to ask him to keep an eye out for her as I thought she would face dark times-- the typical unhappiness that hits with any break-up. He blocked me so that I could not ask him to help her. I saw him on the street last week. He looked right through me. I guess if the Bible teaches “turn the other cheek” a Christian can turn the other cheek to compound harm as well as deflect it. As I rebuild, I cannot show pride. As I stumble and feel sadness, I cannot admit sorrow. Instead of sharing how I feel and I am learning about myself, I now write very little and share shallow chaff.
When I got back from Europe, I got news that my mother has stage four lung cancer. I actually intended to not divulge that and let my Mom choose how she integrated that into her life and her relationships. My niece felt the need to broadcast it via Facebook, so the cat is out of the bag. My Mom and I have a complex relationship. She had to assume the role of breadwinner throughout my life and she has sacrificed an untold amount for her family. A lot of my scrappiness comes from an allergic reaction to the world I felt was unfair to her. I am frequently frustrated that she takes it on the chin; but I admire that she can stay in the ring. In 1994, I lost my grandmother, her sister and her brother in close succession. It was an exhausting process. Instead of falling 100 feet into a ravine, it felt like falling that distance interrupted by ledges every ten feet. Enough to break some bones and become progressively more bloodied and miserable, but without the closure of death. It’s physically taxing and can ruin you emotionally. Every day becomes consumed with the question of when will the dread and suffering convert into grieving and loss. You can’t want it and you need it but you can’t want to have it. In the coming days before the storms hit, I would wish for something that looks like joy because the intricacies of death are an emotional and physical siege.
I really didn’t think I would be able to survive word that my wife went on a multi-year rampage through Tumblr and Fetlife behind my back. I really didn’t think I would have the stamina to survive a divorce. I didn’t think I would be able to survive losing dozens of friends and having dozens more move to a safe distance. I didn’t think I would have the stamina to survive my Mom die from cancer. In 2015, I will have all of those on my plate at the same time. Because of what 2015 has looked like and what it will look like; because of how people tune-out if I am honest; because of how many hours will go to the divorce-death two-step-- for these reasons I am putting the personal part of my blog on a hiatus.
When I come back up to broadcast depth, I will be a very different person. On New Years Day in 2013, Mike DeWolfe was a fat man working for lousy clients to earn enough to keep his unfaithful wife happy. By New Years Eve 2016, Shawn DeWolfe will be a much thinner man who has endured a lot.
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