If I'd had any way of knowing that things were—as Lily Tomlin once said—going to get a whole lot worse before they got worse, I'm not sure how well I would have slept that night. But seven awful months later, I did leave my husband. When I finally made that decision, I thought the worst of it was over. This only shows how little I knew about divorce. ...
I believe that my husband and I shocked each other by how swiftly we went from being the people who knew each other best in the world to being a pair of the most mutually incomprehensible strangers who ever lived. At the bottom of that strangeness was the abysmal fact that we were both doing something the other person would never have conceived possible; he never dreamed I would actually leave him, and I never, in my wildest imagination, thought he would make it so difficult for me to go.
And then there was David.
All the complications and traumas of those ugly divorce years were multiplied by the drama of David—the guy I fell in love with as I was taking leave of my marriage. Did I say that I "fell in love" with David? What I meant to say is that I dove out of my marriage and into David's arms exactly the same way a cartoon circus performer dives off a high platform and into a small cup of water, vanishing completely. I clung to David for escape from marriage as if he were the last helicopter pulling out of Saigon. I inflicted upon him my every hope for my salvation and happiness. And, yes, I did love him. But if I could think of a stronger word than "desperately" to describe how I loved David, I would use that word here, and desperate love is always the toughest way to do it. ...
I wince now to think of what I imposed on David during those months we lived together, right after 9/11 and my separation from my husband. Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he'd ever met was actually, when you got her alone, a murky hole of bottomless grief. Once again, I couldn't stop crying. This is when he started to retreat, and that's when I saw the other side of my passionate romantic hero—the David who was solitary as a castaway, cool to the touch, in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison. ...
David's sudden emotional back-stepping probably would've been a catastrophe for me even under the best of circumstances, given that I am the planet's most affectionate life-form (something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle), but this was my very worst of circumstances. I was despondent, dependent, needing more care than an armful of premature triplets. His withdrawal only made me more needy, and my neediness only advanced his withdrawals, until soon he was retreating under fire of my weeping pleas of, "Where are you going? What happened to us?"
(Dating tip: Men LOVE this.)
We Hear You!