Finalized

30th April 2012

Hi, everyone. About a year ago I told you Bryan and I were separating. You left hundreds of comments on those posts and sent a host of emails. I mentioned this at the time, but it bears repeating: None of your notes was mean spirited. That still drops my jaw.

I’ve been writing online for twelve years now, and I’ve learned that emotional topics don’t always go over well. Divorce has affected so many of us, it’s a cultural raw spot. It can be easy to confuse the pain of someone touching an open wound with the pain of someone inflicting a fresh one. I expected some hurt, and even rage, to pepper the support here. In fact, I thought it was inevitable. So I braced myself before I hit post, and walked away for a few hours. The kindness I returned to was humbling.

All of us have seen people offload pain onto someone else online, or simply fail to consider the weight of their words. I so appreciate that no one here did that. Perhaps you had to hold your tongue, and if you did, I’d buy you a beer if I could. Your restraint saved me some downtime. To those of you who offered condolences, thank you again for your kindness.

I’m writing this because our divorce was recently finalized. Until the papers came, I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath, though I know it’s been obvious to some of you. What do you write about when most of what you’re thinking isn’t meant for public consumption?

That said, I’ve learned so much through this period, and I’ve spent a lot of time in crash position. (Growth. Ow.) Some of you have said you’re going through your own divorces right now, and oh kid, I know it’s awful. I wish I could wrap you up.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to talk about the helpful things people have said to you, some of the realizations you’ve had about the divorce or break-up process, and the coping mechanisms you’ve found useful. I think it’s good to have that information out there, and I trust you guys to keep it sane.

I also have good news to share. I’ve been snorzeling my kid (who is doing well, to my profound relief), and traveling, and making lists as usual. This has been the most difficult period of my life, but some time has passed, and the bad stuff is always mixed in with the good.

Through all of it, your grace as a community has been a comfort and a source of pride. Thank you again, everyone. You lend me honor.

107 thoughts on “Finalized

  1. Vanessa

    Congratulations and condolences, darlin’. Been through it too, and I know, even after paper, it’s mixed bag for a long time. We’ll be here if you need us.

    Also, “you lend me honor” is the most beautiful phrase I’ve read in a long time.

  2. Angeerah

    You show us so much grace through your posts that it’s only natural that you would receive it in return. Love to you!

  3. Sondra

    I started my blog in the midst of an ugly divorce 5 years ago…needless to say I have found great strength and inspiration writing about my transition and what I learned along the way. It’s a bittersweet experience but you are strong and you have an amazing support system that will help you as you move forward. *hugs*

  4. MP

    I blogged.. I stopped.. I facebooked.. I blogged..then I had to start caring for my old parents.. then my husband fell in love with his sole mate.. who was not me.. and then he wouldn’t move out.. and now he’s gone.. and I have to file.. but it’s barely out there.. and I have the support of his family, go figure. How refreshing it must be to get the papers.. why haven’t I sent mine in yet? Uggg.. I keep trying to look at the bright side.. and at cute single guys..

  5. jenG

    Oooooof.

    (I think I might’ve been holding my breath for you, too.)

    Here’s to your new normal, Maggie, and the adventures yet to come. *cheers*

  6. Lucrecer

    Divorce is never easy. It is a loss and an opportunity for renewal. I pray that you are comforted during this time and that you take time to devote to yourself. I wish I had taken more time for myself instead of jumping right back into my life of doing for others. You have all the support you need and I offer my ear if you need to chat.

  7. Grace Davis

    My husband and I are each on our third (and LAST) marriage. Our vows included a note of love as courage – “This marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.” May you be just as blessed, Maggie.

    Now, go out there and love again.

  8. Min

    I am so happy that this rough transition is over.

    I am toasting you with my iced tea (wishing it was a martini)

  9. Jen

    I think I was holding my breath for you too.

    I am thinking about you and yours, Maggie! All the best! xoxoxo!

  10. Erin

    You’re awesome. I’m sorry you had to go through this, but I’m glad you see it as a chance for growth, albeit a painful chance. Rock on.

  11. Ashley

    I am currently watching my parents go through a pretty rough separation and inevitable divorce. Reading this, and the strength you exemplify, leave me hopeful that my mom will make it through this difficult time with grace and humor.

  12. Sarah

    I am still waiting for the papers to come. I know it is weird to feel jealous of your divorce. But. We are two years into separation.
    I am of course happy for you, that you have the legal wrangling over, the waiting for things to be decided over. Here’s to brighter days in the future!

  13. a.

    I continue to adore and admire you. This post is beautifully written and another fabulous example of your grace and strength in the very challenging spot where the public and the personal collide. All the best to you (and Hank) as you move forward to wonderful things.

  14. Moira

    You provide more inspiration than you can imagine. Thank you for posting this. Blessings to you.

  15. molly

    Maggie, I’ve always admired and respected you, even more so now, hearing your elegant wisdom as you share about your heart. You’re in my thoughts.

  16. Melissa Cotton Womack

    I know it’s been a long and painful process for you all, and yet congratulations seem strangely appropriate. The next time we meet, the bubbly is on me. I love you.

  17. Stef

    You seem like such a nice person, and it is tough to know that hard times come to nice people. Several of my friends are going through separations/divorces now, and as a bystander I am bummed out but also wanting to be helpful to them, so I agree that it would be really nice to open a conversation about how to make the best of this difficult thing.

    All the best to you, Maggie!

  18. LaurenR

    Man. I didn’t realize. I follow your blog but somehow I missed that?? Seems impossible. Anyway, I’ve been where you are — it’s been 6 years — and just wanted to say, I am good now. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s really good and it feels right, and it feels like I’m headed where I’m supposed to go. I wish the same for you. :)

  19. Ainsley

    I think congratulations are in order. May sound strange, but you did a difficult thing with class, and that deserves a round of applause. Well done, Maggie! And very best wishes for this new, next stage you’ve made.

  20. Leanne

    I could not have read this at a better time. Just filed for divorce today to a man I’ve known since 1st grade and married to for 14 years. It’s is extremely difficult and knowing other people have done this and thrive on the other side fills me with lots of hope and smiles…..thanks….

  21. Megan

    This post proves yet again that you are someone I would seek out in my everyday life to call a friend.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. You are indeed a remarkable lady and quite a moving writer.

  22. Eva

    When I was going through my divorce, my dad said, “When you look back on this, you’re going to want to be able to say that you acted with grace and integrity.” He taught me how every thing you do is a decision, and it made me a lot less reactive.

    From personal experience, I can say that it’s wonderful. You get the space to respect the other parent as a person and parent without the expectations you would have of a partner.

    Good luck and have fun, and you look FANTASTIC.

  23. Allie

    I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said…but yes. Yes. And yes.

    You are a lovely, bright, and graceful soul. Thank you for sharing with us!

    P.S. “You lend me honor” is a lovely turn of phrase to express a lovely sentiment. (It has now been stolen for use in my daily life.) ;)

  24. Dottie

    Oh, lady. You have such grace and humor which I’m sure have been paramount in helping you make this year not only livable by with I’m sure extraordinary moments as well.

    Cheers to the rest of 2012 being as amazing and mighty as you are!

  25. snozma

    You are enviable in your grace. That is, I personally envy you! (Not in a mean way, I hope.) Perhaps it is simply your restraint in this situation–how did you refrain from airing things for public consumption. Also, how did you keep a website running? Now all these people are here still.

    So it is sort of fascinating from this distance to see you be graceful when something really hard is happening.

    Hooray for Hank being OK. He is beautiful.

  26. Snithia

    Eva, post number 50 put it really well, so I’m going to steal a bit of her (and her father’s) phrasing: all along, reading your blog, I’ve continued to feel that you have acted “with grace and integrity.”

    You’ve definitely got the friends, the readers and son that you deserve.

  27. Jessica

    Cheers to you for the grace and strength with which you’re able to write about such a difficult thing. I’ve been there, too, and learned so much. But it is so very hard and asks so much of us. I look forward to all that is next for you!

  28. Megan

    Maggie-
    I’ve been reading your since college, and your work has helped me through some very tough times. I am so sorry for your pain, and I wish you well.
    -Megan

  29. Michou

    Maggie –

    Breathe in and out… it’s all you can do sometimes. I hope that every step you take from now on is full of promise and hope. I hope the bad days become fewer and fewer and that you and your son have amazing days to help distract from any hardships that will, unfortunately, come your way.

  30. mallory

    The words I remember the most were from a friend who told me–when I was all but deaf to the sound of anything other than my own screams–was this: “You will be happy again.” It was oddly comforting to know that someone else could believe that *for* me when I couldn’t believe it myself. And he was right–I am happy again.

  31. michelle k

    It’s been 7 years since I realized a divorce would be necessary in my life. Know that it’s an opportunity for growth and for change, whether we want that or not. My son and I continue to grow and change with each other in new and challenging ways. Many blessings to you and Hank, and by extension Brian.

  32. Joy

    Less than a year ago, I visited your blog after some time away and the comments were closed then on your announcement post. I felt so sad for you (even though I only know you virtually and incompletely). So sorry you had to go through this but glad to see you coping in your inimitable Maggie way. :)

  33. Angie

    Been wondering how things were with you on this topic. Hope you and yours stay safe and on the upward trend– your readers value your outlook on life and want you to be healthy and happy! All the best.

  34. Julie Anne

    This is both a happy and sad occassion. When I was going through my divorce, I repeated my family’s mantra (sometimes by the minute): Everything is going to be okay. It wasn’t – not for a long time – but it is now. I wish the same, and more, for you and Hank.

  35. amie

    So many people coming out with their true lives and their experiences and their hearts – this is a generous thing you do for us, Maggie, and thank you. I am past but never really through my own divorce. I am now married to a wonderful man with his own divorce experiences, plural, which I would never have thought I would be okay with.

    Our teenage children, my daughter and his son, are lovely, wonderful people and it’s fantastic that all of their many grandparents and great-grandparents get to know and love them. Most of all, my husband and I waited a long time to be sure that our kids were comfortable with all of us making a family. Families come in all shapes and forms, and they’re all as capable of love and support as any other. It’s what I call Family Values: are you willing to orient your lives toward the love of these children in your care? And are you willing to love one another as adults, in support of that mission? And beyond that.

    Above all, as this community so amply shows, live with grace and honor. Your relationships will be the better for it.

  36. Joanne

    Bittersweet moment, to be sure. I’ve been thinking of you, and hoping for an ending.. any ending … to this story, and now there is one. You have done well, and it is great to hear the real you come through the blog again.

    Just one question – what is snorzeling?

  37. Cindy

    Sometimes I think death is easier than divorce. Don’t get me wrong, they both suck, but at least in death you know it’s over. It’s pretty final. The thing is none of this is easy. And it doesn’t makes sense to make it more dificult for someone by criticizing or being mean.

    Here’s to something new and wonderful.

  38. Mandi

    Every time I read your blog, I am struck by your graciousness and genuine spirit. I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling well and seeing the silver linings.

  39. Emily

    I had the exact same moment of exhaling when I got my final papers. Divorce is never a good thing, but that moment made realize how lucky I was to have found happiness on my own. Here’s to brighter and happier days ahead than you can even imagine!

  40. shivery

    Congratulations on surviving one of the great horrors life provides: I hope that your next few days involve delicious margaritas, good friends, and dancing around to Swedish technopop.

    You made it!

  41. Jess

    This post brings me comfort. I am currently separating from my partner of 10 years and I sometimes feel like I am not going to get through it. To know that you can brings me hope. Thank you.

  42. Kara

    I have felt for you and worried for you. . .but selfishly, I have to say that I’ve also missed you! Your writing, your stories, your ideas. So if this post is a harbinger of more words to come, then I’m so glad you’re back. And hopeful that the good will start to outweigh the bad for you now that things are finalized.

  43. Karin

    Years ago now, some good friends divorced. A couple that seemed like puzzle pieces for years suddenly separated. I think it was confusing to most of their friends, but the thought that struck me — a tiny 21 year-old with no experience of her own — was that they HAD to come together to produce their magical children. The world needs those kids and who they are going to become, and the only way for them to exist was this fleeting union of their parents. I don’t know if this is helpful, but it appears to be true in your case as well — whatever the flaws in your relationship with Brian, you made a kick-ass kid that the world is going to be thankful for, and that makes the whole thing worthwhile.
    Happy Tuesday.

  44. Elise

    There is something about the way you carry yourself and the tone that you have consistently set on this blog that raises the rest of us up. Honesty, compassion, and humor go a long way to creating an environment in which people want to be their best selves. I know this is true for me: there have been numerous occaisons on which I’ve modeled my reaction to a difficult situation after you, to my own betterment.

    Reading your post last year shocked and humbled me, not because you presented your marriage in some mythically perfect way (though it did seem solid) but because I realized these things happen to everyone, they could happen to me. You have somehow struck a balance that allows you to be personally revealing and yet deeply private, to be funny and yet never mocking, to exude strength and yet never seem harse. That’s a rare and special thing, and your readership directly reflects that.

    Thank you.

  45. Flora

    You’ve always set a tone of generosity here and your readers responded in kind. Here’s to growth and grace!

  46. Julie

    Many good wishes to you and Bryan in carving out this new relationship, and all the best to you in your new adventure!

  47. Claire

    Oh I was glad to read this and hear that you’re doing okay. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that your readers reacted kindly to your news. It’s a testament to the community you’ve built here.
    I was a little surprised to read your news, and then Dooce and also Melissa at Suburban Bliss (I think that’s her name). Is she ok? I hope she’s ok! I do feel like friends with bloggers even though of course you don’t know me, but I still feel a bit sad when I see you going through a tough time. Thanks for the update and all the best to you. Also, echoing someone upthread, you do look fabulous! Is that relevant? I don’t know, but it’s true. Go get ’em!

  48. Melanie

    Thanks for sharing, Maggie. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I talked to you a little when we sat next to each other at an Alt Summit lunch, so forgive me if I’m being repetitive.

    I recently shared some things about my divorce on my blog and it felt good to write about it. But seriously, how could I not share it when my husband of 10 years left me by leaving a note on top of a gift of a boxed set of romantic comedies? SERIOUSLY!

    I remember how miserable I felt, how I no longer knew my world, and how awful it was to date as a “real adult.” I hadn’t dated since I was 25 years old, and things were so different then. People weren’t even using the interwebs that much, and I was TWENTY-FIVE. And IN COLLEGE. Ugh.

    I’m really lucky. My story had a happy ending. I ended up meeting and falling in love with a wonderful man and we have a 21-month-old son. It took going through a LOT of garbage to get to this point, but I would do every bit of it again to be able to end up where I am now.

    Take care. If I could hug you through this internet, I would! xoxo

  49. Elaine

    Congratulations–so relieved for you that it’s over. My own divorce was finalized at the end of 2011 and I know how difficult it sometimes is to navigate the passage gracefully and to show consistent love and care toward the other person throughout the process. Seems like you’ve done both of those things, and done them in spades. Well done, Maggie.

  50. Sara

    Wishing nothing but the absolute best for you and your family. You have grace, courage, and you are such a good example to all of us.

  51. Elizabeth

    Your grace is a constant source of inspiration. May we all one day grow to live our lives with such thoughtfulness and respect.

  52. Sally

    If you haven’t already read it, pick up Eat, Pray, Love and read it. I was sceptical at first (don’t go by the movie – it wasn’t faithful at all to the book). I had a miserable break-up recently and read this book soon after. I laughed and cried with the narrator and it helped me adopt a completely positive mental outlook. Best of luck xx

  53. vallee

    “It can be easy to confuse the pain of someone touching an open wound with the pain of someone inflicting a fresh one.”

    Perfectly describes 4 years ago during a not-divorce-but-extremely-traumatic time, when well-meaning friends and insensitive acquaintances definitely touched open wounds, but I silently accused them of inflicting fresh ones. What a perfect description, Maggie!

    I’m so impressed with you Mighty Girl. Is your middle name Grace?

  54. Meg

    You continue to be an inspiration for us mortals :-) I’m glad Hank is doing well.

  55. sugarleg

    been reading you for years and have that weird care and concern for you even though we are not real life friends. that is because of your courage to share, and even though you have had to step back and hold your breath for the past few months, there is a level of self-care and respect that has undoubtedly filled your well in not sharing all of it. that said, I really do like the idea of you giving space for your readers to engage in what worked or didn’t as we navigated our own divorces. thank you Maggie, my internet friend. :-)

  56. Anne

    Your writing means a great deal to many of us. Best wishes to you. Thank you for your generosity.

  57. Amber

    Divorce sucks. No matter what. Congrats for getting through it. I found that a whole different life awaited me. I’ve been reading for years- thanks for writing!
    Check me out at theusualbliss.com if you have time.

  58. Colleen

    Honestly, the discomfort and angst that go with “growth” rather sucks. But it’s all for a good cause, right? Thank you for your honesty and candor. Let your light shine … and know what an inspiration you have been to me.

  59. Asha

    Just want to say a gentle congrats on closure and new beginnings. I hope your time in Key B is restorative and a wonderful reminder of all who care and are grateful for you.

  60. Kimberly

    Hi, Maggie. Sorry that it ended this way for you guys. I’m divorced as well, and yup, it really stunk. And coming OUT of crash position is no picnic either. It’s hard to stretch the muscles back out after they’ve been balled up so long. Those are your next steps. :) An internet hug and a cup of tea to you.

  61. renée

    i don’t know what to say (sorry? thank you? oompa loompa?) maybe because I have been so little touched by divorce in my life (so fortunate, yes!)… so I look forward to you collecting the helpful things people have said to you and others during a divorce or break-up…

    and in the interim, I say continue to seize the day and own your moments… you remind me constantly to do the same for myself…

  62. Margaret

    I started reading your blog in the middle of my divorce and your Might List was very inspiring and life affirming. Best energy warmth grace strength peace wishes to you. The book “Mom’s House Dad’s House” was very helpful for the emotional road map it gave. Yes, you have been holding your breath for a year and now it is a relief (do you throw a party or have a funeral? I felt like both), it is ok if there are still days that leave you fetal. There might be a few. The only way out is through, and grace waits on the other side.

  63. RJ

    Well played, Maggie. I admire your poise and grace in a time of great upheaval.
    I look forward to seeing what comes next …
    Thank you for being you.

  64. Birgitte Gilliland

    So long since I have checked in on your site. My insomnia allowed me to happen upon this post. Your former partner in poster board crime sends you much love and huge hugs. I just love how your writing has evolved since I first met you. You really are a lovely, lovely writer and as others have previously said, this “Finalized” piece is extraordinary. You are a class act Miss Maggie. I wish you much love and joy in the days ahead.

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