So, I just spent about 5 minutes cruising through Zappo's bag selection to calm my nerves. There's nothing like a little bit of retail therapy, even if it's window shopping, to temporarily soothe my soul.
Who has ruffled my beautifully preened feathers, you ask? Who has raised my hackles and made me bear my claws and fangs, you wonder? My ex-husband of 9 years. I've done my "work" and paid my dues as far as my ex-marriage is concerned. A couple of years of intense analysis, sifting through parental issues, playing the field and replaying the same patterns in new relationships, journaling, keeping track of my dreams, bitching to girlfriends, wishing my ex peace and happiness, and letting him go, and, of course, googling him and checking out his Facebook page (closed to non-friends, of course...oh, come on, I know you've check out your exes FB pages.) to see if he managed to survive and thrive without me. Dude. I've been there and done that, and I was sooo way over it.
So, it surprised me how irritated and angry I became when our "escribano" (sorta like a lawyer/notary/witness/know-it-all here in Argentina) mentioned that I needed to provide the name of my ex-husband and copy of our divorce decree so he could finalize the documents for this new pad I'm buying here in Buenos Aires. It's my very first piece of property ever, so you can imagine my excitement when I signed the first batch of papers. I didn't know that my little piece of security and independence way the hell down south of the equator would be forever linked in permanent ink to a man I divorced 9 years ago.
The purpose of all this exchange of info is to state formally and legally that we don't owe each other anything because we're through with each other. Intellectually, I get the point, and find it reasonable to a very limited extent. However, the thought of seeing his name on a document that entitles me to my first piece of property, even if it is just an apartment from the 1970's that needs a serious paint job (but has a fabulous view, 1 1/2 remodeled bathrooms, and other wonderful possibilities!), irks me. It's like he's trespassing on my property, and the only thing I want to do is to unleash my 10 big, hungry dobermans and breakout my shotgun. I know it's totally un-zen of me, and I need to, you know, go do about an hour of yoga, perform some kind of active imagination-letting-go ritual, and probably shell out some money to talk to my analyst to process this stuff...again...but, damn, I need to check in with this bitchy, territorial side of me 'cause she needs some air time.
Sifting through all the divorce papers and having to scan them in one by one to send to the escribano was like opening an old wound and inadvertently getting some salt in it. Sucks, man. The thing is, I don't really harbor any anger at him any more. We just weren't right for each other (OK, and how many people were, like, "Are you SUUURE you want to marry him?" before I married him...note to self and future generations: if most of your good friends and acquaintances are asking you stuff like this, you probably want to start re-evaluating your decision.), and now he's remarried to someone who fits the bill.
So, if I'm supposedly at peace somewhat with all of that, what's with the anger? I didn't get a fancy degree and go through years of therapy to not know, y'all. I've realized that I didn't have the energy, money, or balls at the time to undergo a legal battle with my ex, who is a lawyer and whose lawyerliness came through loud and clear during the last few weeks of our short-lived marriage. Because of the guilt I felt for what I did and didn't do, and because of the guilt I felt for being relieved and so darn excited about the possibilities my new life as a singleton would hold for me, I believed I didn't rate what I was legally entitled to, which remains a mystery to me to this day. If I asked around, I'd probably discover that I just walked away from a decent-sized chunk of a settlement without a sound. It wouldn't have been a lot, but, most likely, it would have been a bit than what I ended up getting, which amounted to roughly $9,000.
The nice, guilt-ridden, Catholic girl in me asks: Did I deserve what little I got? Was he right for not giving me more? Maybe he WAS being generous. Maybe I didn't deserve anything at all. But the clawed and fanged part of me, the part that, thankfully, always helps me see through my own crap and opens doors for me answers: Oh, HELLLLLLS NO.
One of the things that my ex got out of the settlement...like he got almost everything...were 2 Greek icons painted in the traditional style with egg tempera and gold leaf. We had gotten them on a trip to Greece, and they had cost quite a lot. They were two of the pieces that I really loved in our house full of art that we had bought in our 5 year relationship together. I remember going back into the house after I had moved out to take one of the icons--the one of Eve stepping out of a sleeping Adam--but I stopped myself because, of course, I felt guilty. Man, guilt just puts a damper on all the fun, doesn't it?
6 years later, I found myself on the same island in Greece where I bought the icons. I told my partner (who is, thankfully, still my partner! Yay!) that I was on a mission to find this workshop and buy something, anything, from it. So, I walked and sweated for an hour or two until I turned a corner and found the little studio where they continued to create those beautiful icons. I bought the least expensive, but most beautiful one I could find (a whopping 70 Euro...dang, they're expensive), and felt vindicated. This one, this little 4x6" icon of an archangel, is mine and no one else's.
It's the same feeling I know I will have when I sign these papers. This property will be mine, and mine alone. Even though my ex's name will figure somewhere in the deed, maybe--because I'm just too lazy to read through all the legalese in Spanish--I'll just reimage his name into a sort of benchmark or sign post.. It would be as if it were saying, "See your ex's name? This is where you were and what you had with him. Now, see your signature at the bottom of the page? This is what you have without him...and it's a whole heck of a lot more than you could ever have imagined."