Divine Daytripper Freelance Travel Writer


Divorce: California-Style

I am at the top of Mt. Lincoln at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort with my beloved friends from college days. It is Easter. There is a gale force wind
blowing. I am dressed for this sugar bowl liftblustery weather, but I am not at peace.

My discomfort does not come from the Nordic conditions; it comes from a place deep within my soul. It is Easter, and I am separated from my marital tribe.

My former husband’s family is a raucous bunch of fun-loving people I’ve known for 20 years. Every birthday, holiday, marriage, funeral, and confirmation is an opportunity to eat, drink, and laugh. The depth of knowledge and compassion I hold for each member is heartfelt. There is love, understanding, and a mutual admiration for all things good and happy.

Since the divorce, releasing my connection to this high-spirited clan is a decision I make every holiday, birthday and graduation. The passing of every communal event is a renewal of my commitment to finding a new path of being, of relating to the world not as a married woman, but as an individual.

My former husband found a new partner. A tender, kind-hearted woman that is good to our children. How can I maintain a relationship with my marital tribe when there is a new partner on the horizon?

Music impresario Quincy Jones gets together with the five mothers of his seven children every Christmas. Bruce Willis walks down the red carpet with his former wife Demi and their three children, and her boyfriend Ashton Kutcher. In Hollywood , it can be done. In Sacramento, it is confusing.

I ask my friend, a divorced mother of two children how she separates herself and old feelings from her former spouse. Always make it about the kids, not you. The clarity of her words reminds me of what my mother used to say when I couldn’t find something obvious, if it was a snake, it would have bit you.

Make it about the kids, not you. Reframing the new relationship with my former husband in the context of the children makes decisions easier. There are fewer curves to negotiate. Make it about the kids, not you means attending their soccer games, wrestling meets, birthday parties and rites of passages, if it’s beneficial to the kids, not me.

Releasing attachment to the old is hard. It is an unsettling observation that in order to gain new territory, I have to release my footing on the old terrain. It is an act of faith to release. Faith that the transformation of self in thought and deed will bring tranquility and comfort once again. That the new territory gained will be a rain-washed place cleansed of all sorrow and heartache. A new land where there are clear blue skies and a rainbow to greet me. Welcome home.

My new version of home doesn’t include communal celebrations with the extended family I left along the way. Divorce is like that. There are casualties. Innocent bystanders get hurt because they were part of a relationship whose formal union didn’t last. I didn’t divorce just my husband; I divorced his whole family. I cannot be two people at once: my former married self and my new emancipated self. I have already made my choice.

The Easter Sunday I spent with my friends was not the kind of Easter I’ve spent before. There were no egg hunts. No big feast around a table with loving faces. This Easter was the resurrection of self.

The last ski run of the day at Sugar Bowl was a mixture of elation and sorrow. The wind was howling and it began to snow. I am in a new land…looking for clear blue skies…and a rainbow to greet me.

Welcome home.