All posts in this series:
Part I: Getting (and Losing) That Old Time Religion
Part II: Coming Home
Part III: The Fool's Journey
Part IV: The Underworld
Part V: Seven of Cups
Part VI: A Letter and a Kiss
Part VII: Morticia Loves Gomez
Part VIII: Nora
Part IX: Felicia Hardy and the Tower of Babel
Part X: When Babel Fell
Part XI: Community 2.0
Part XII: This Forgiveness Stuff
Are you married? Are you well married? If you are, perhaps you can understand what I’m not going to be able to explain, though I’m bound to try.
It doesn't matter how I write about the process of ending my first marriage and beginning my second; I'm going to come off badly. And some of that is merited: I made a promise to my first husband, and I did not keep it. The cynical way of putting it would be to say that I found someone I liked better, and I left my husband for another man. That’s not false, exactly. But it makes it sound cavalier and unfeeling, and it wasn't that.
So I could tell you about the pain of it, and how, despite the fact that it was my decision to end my marriage, and despite the strength of Peter's and my love for one another, I experienced more deep grief and depression at that time in my life than perhaps I ever will again--unless Peter should die before me.
I could talk about howling aloud so hard in anger and sadness that I stripped my vocal cords raw, and could not speak for almost two weeks. I could tell you that it was the only time in my life I’ve lost weight without trying—because I simply could not eat or swallow.
I could tell you about the time, tucked close in Peter's warm arms, when he proposed going shopping for an engagement ring for me... and I sobbed and sobbed, that a milestone which should be so uncomplicatedly glad, for him if not for me, was so tarnished by sadness.
Sharing the fact of my own pain, though, sounds like making excuses. And that’s a distortion, too. I’m not justifying my decisions here. I understand that the fact that it hurt doesn’t change that these were my choices, made freely, and made knowing I was causing pain to others, too, who had no choice about it. I didn’t end my marriage lightly or thoughtlessly. But it was I who ended it, eyes open to the fact that I was hurting others.
Hurting others…. I could omit certain things from my tale, or spin them, so you would take away a more favorable picture of me. I could let you assume that my first husband was a bad person--for years, people who knew me only after my divorce would be surprised, meeting him, to discover he was basically a nice guy.
I could pretend that I don't remember my daughter grieving for him for years after we separated, or how, when we would drive home together after her weekend-long visits to his house, she would sometimes wail for an hour or more for the Daddy she knew she was going to miss.
I’m not interested in whitewashing myself, though. And, in any case, with or without the omissions, I don't think there's a way to convey the truth as I lived it. How it hurt, how it brought me joy, and how I am not able to regret it in the least.
I know it’s hopeless. I know I’m not up to the task of telling this part of the story clearly. But I want to explain to you about that first kiss—my first kiss with Peter, not some goddess’s, but the one I was there for in full. I want to explain to you about going out for coffee after the first time we made love, and how my whole self was trembling on the inside, while the outside of me calmly sipped coffee from a paper cup.
I want to tell you about standing on the bridge over the Mill River, looking down into the cold swirls of snow and black water, and making our vows to one another even before I had separated from my husband. I want to tell you how it felt to open Peter's love letters—about the one that had a tracing of the outline of his hand—or to steal an afternoon in scorching July, curled up on the fold-out couch that was my bed in the tiny apartment where I lived after the separation.
I want to tell you about the first time Peter and my daughter met, and how hard we tried to keep our passion from showing in front of others who might be hurt by it (my daughter, my parents, coven-mates, friends--in case of a divorce, you learn just how many people really have a stake in what is not just a bond between two people) and how difficult that was. Not to kiss… not to hold hands… not to look at one another too lovingly or too long. We did try.
We chose the theme song to The Addams Family as our wedding recessional, partly because, by that time, we had created a complex, multi-generational group house of friends and family that felt as odd and outside the box as the Addams Family... but mainly because, like Gomez and Morticia, what we felt for one another seemed to us so over-the-top, so baroque and extreme in its intensity.
That's one part of who we are.
Another part of who we are lies in a memory of Peter playing me a tape of Steeleye Span—“Thomas the Rhymer"—and how I cried. I cried because he understood. The same music was in him as in me, and the same magic, and the same love of the Old Gods.
My first husband loved me in spite of my spirituality. Peter loves me because of it. It turns out that there really is a big difference between "tolerance" and love, and it was Peter who taught me that. Becoming Pagan had felt like coming home. But loving Peter Bishop has been my home, for sixteen years now.
Marrying Peter Bishop is the truest thing I've ever done. And I just can't say it any clearer than that.