Filing for Divorce

Jan 4, 2014 by

          Four days into mine and Olivia’s #31daysoffriendship, and I’m through. I can’t do this anymore. I’m living my own vision of hell: the loss of my person on repeat. We pretend to be fine, we fight, we pretend, we fight, we pretend, we fight . . . I’m fucking tired.

          Today, with our #31daysoffriendship as my motivation, I tested my ability to support Olivia in an area of her life that I haven’t been accepting of due to a past event that was detrimental to our friendship. My apathetic reaction to her problem proved to me that I wasn’t ready. It’s been over five years, and I’m still not ready. Twenty-seven more days won’t change that, and I know it. No matter how many attempts we make to salvage our friendship, her destruction of my trust has proven to be too big of an obstacle to overcome. I knew this at age 18, when my confidence in our friendship first wavered. I was just too scared to acknowledge it. I was too fearful to let go of the one person that understood me at the time. Although I no longer feel that Olivia understands me, I continue to be apprehensive about letting our friendship go, which is exactly why I need to.

          Back in mid-November, when I first broke the news to Olivia that I was thinking about living apart, she tried to use my own decision maker against me: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid, Maria?” she interrogated me in a mocking tone. “You’re scared of things that haven’t happened yet. You’re worried that if you let go of your grudge, it will make what I did in second year okay. I know that it wasn’t okay. I think that I really hurt you in second year by not being there for you, and I think that I really hurt you this past March by telling you that I might not want you in my life. You’re afraid to be hurt again, so you’re taking the easy way out. If you walk away from this friendship, you’re taking the easy way out.”

          She’s wrong. Walking away is not the easy way out. It is walking away that scares me – not being hurt by abandonment. I already lost my person. That fear already became my reality, and I survived it. I did better than survive: I went on to be happy. Ironically, what I’m afraid of now are the consequences of abandoning her. She’s been a defining part of my life. I’m scared shitless of saying goodbye to the girl who knows what I’m going to say before I speak, who is always down to accompany me on a one-day trip to NYC, and who I can count on to say yes when I propose a drive to Niagara in the middle of the night. (Why am I using the present tense? She’s already lost, she’s already lost, she’s already lost . . . Repeat until it sinks in, goddamn it!)

          So, what would I honestly do if I weren’t afraid? I’d move out. I’d cut all contact to cope. I’d ensure that eight years don’t turn into nine. Thus, tonight, I acted accordingly. I needed to disregard fear in order to take action to change my life, as I have many times since beginning The Happiness Experiment. I needed to own my decision to part from Olivia (because it is my choice and not hers, as she likes to remind me and I like to remember) by being the one to prepare the vacancy notice to our landlords. I had to do this alone (with Olivia’s knowledge, of course), because I was doing it for me – not for the good of our friendship. That letter symbolized that I was strong enough to make a move toward exiting an unhealthy friendship, which gives me confidence that I’ll have the courage to leave any future relationships that may turn toxic. (In all seriousness, I needed to prove to myself that I could leave a future broken marriage, if I’m ever a part of one, by bidding farewell to the most significant relationship of my life thus far, now that it has bittered.) It signified my ability to put my happiness above my relationships, solidifying my belief that my happiness depends on me alone and not on the people around me.

          If you were to ask Olivia her opinion, she’d tell you that I’m giving up. I disagree. I’m being strong. I’m freeing myself. I’m pursuing further personal happiness. I’m requesting a metaphorical divorce. I’m doing what terrifies me. Tonight, before I lost the nerve, in the heat of another fight, I clicked send on the email to our landlords containing my letter of notice. #-27daysoffriendship.

 
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