Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | May 31, 2010

Some Discretion is Advised

I’m so very busy these days — what with the new job that has been demanding overtime, the old freelance work that I’ve been trying to wrap up as gracefully as possible (should I need to return to it again), and the business that my wife is poised to take over but that I must continue to manage the finances for (as the business still has a bit of debt for which I am personally accountable for), let alone the subtle divorce negotiations, taking care of the kids, stalling the bank on foreclosing, kid-related social obligations, dealing with my messed up knee, the various normal chores, etc. — that I’ve been too busy and too distracted to really feel much of anything.

I think sometimes, being busy can be an effective salve for your brain while mental readjustments are being made — an effective distraction while some healing may be going on beneath the surface. And I’m okay with that.

My insomnia has ebbed away somewhat, which is probably a good thing on the whole, but it has certainly cut into the only social time I’ve managed to carve out for myself — that of Facebooking and blogging and e-mailing in the wee hours of the morning.

But all that being said, I do have some things to look forward to. Er. Things forward to which I am looking. Er. You get the point. One of those things is… an actual, honest-to-goodness vacation.

The vacation is your typical one-weeker: a whirlwind tour of past stomping grounds, including a visit with the ‘rents and other family, stops to visit a few friends from long ago, and even a chance to meet up with some newer on-line bloggy buddies along the way. Then there’s Reunion. As in: college reunion.

The only previous Reunion I have attended was my fifth-year reunion. My soon-to-be-ex-wife Penny had, at the time, recently returned to our alma mater to pursue her PhD. She and I had only just started seeing each other, and this was an opportunity for us to hang out while meeting up with some good friends of ours from days-gone-by. It was, if I recall correctly, the first time we’d slept with each other. It was the scene of many pivotal conversations — what we wanted from a partner, for our future, and so on. She and I had talked about children, and how we wanted to raise them.

When all is said and done, I think that particular issue — that of raising children — has had more to do with us sticking together for as long as we have than any other issue. And looking back, the same things we agreed upon and disagreed upon then are the same things we still agree and disagree upon. In fact, there only ever was one thing we disagreed upon, and it remains a sticking point to this day. And it will continue to remain a sticking point into the future: that of religious upbringing. Even so, it wasn’t a major problem then and it still isn’t today, if only because I’m not inclined to let it become so.

But more on that later.

In the meantime, this year’s return to my old stomping grounds — our old stomping grounds — raises once more the specter of whom to tell and when. I am going to be having dinner with some mutual friends the night before I head to reunion, and it’s already clear I’m going to be put into a situation where, if I don’t tell, I’m being deceptive, and if I do tell, then I run the risk of letting the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag (who keeps cats in bags, anyway?) much earlier than Penny would prefer.

For the sake of discretion — and largely because we need our children to hear the news from us rather than from other sources, and it’s advised to not tell the children until just a couple of weeks before new living arrangements are about to fall into place — Penny’s preference is to not tell anyone… ever. As I believe I’ve mentioned here before, she still hasn’t even told her own parents or siblings about our impending divorce. Okay, that’s clearly not out of concern for the kids. I have my own suspicions that it has less to do with her being an introvert (although she is one, almost to an extreme) and more to do with her feeling like she’s in for some disapproval (which, I suppose, she is).

But her desire for us to be discrete on the subject has also caused some tension internally with me. I have many friends on Facebook, for example, who bring up topics that I’d love to respond to, but that to do so would raise questions either from them… or from Penny, herself. And insofar as it’s very important to me that we keep this break-up as amicable as possible, that means holding my tongue much more than I would prefer. It’s one thing to be discrete (I am the very model of discretion, after all), but another thing entirely to be silent.

Soon enough, we will be going our separate ways. Well, maybe not “soon enough” for me, but soon enough in the grand scheme of things. In the meantime, I’ll keep walking this tightrope as best I can manage.

Which is all by way of saying, I’m ready to be me again. As an extrovert, this keeping-it-all-to-myself thing is a bit… double-plus-ungood. If only there was someplace I could go and share my thoughts without fear of being judged or of upsetting the applecart….



  1. I still can’t believe she doesn’t want to tell anyone, ever. That’s just crazy. I completely understand it for the kids sake, but not even her FAMILY? I just don’t get it, but maybe that’s not for me “to get.” I can imagine it has to be extremely difficult, however, to truly be able to feel you again, when you are harboring this big life secret/change inside for so long, and even harder to move on. Hopefully there is some resolution there, and I hope your kids take it as well as possible, when that day comes. And I hope your trip rocks, and I’m looking forward to being one of the lucky bloggy friends to meet you oh so soon! šŸ™‚

  2. I’ve never read you before, so thanks to Jolene for this visit this rainy day on the other coast.

    What a difficult limbo you must find yourself in, and I admire your willingness to take on such a weighty proposition as to keep mum until your soon-to-be-ex is comfortable with it.

    That bodes well for an amicable split (as much as that is possible), which bodes well for your children and the two of you, generally speaking. A lot of commentary from a stranger, hmm?

    I hope your reunion is uneventful and even pleasant. And as for your kids, my own experience (9 years post split) is that time, patience, and the way you two deal with each other in the months and years to come is what will alleviate the pain for your children.

    With the kind of consideration you are showing to their mother (and presumably, she to you), you’re both to be commended. But I wish for this limbo stage (and gag order) to ease up for you. It must be taking a considerable toll.

  3. You have arrived. This is your forum. And you are using it. (That and Skyping with me…)

    Glad to see things are progressing. You have MUCH to look forward to.

  4. That “little” matter of religious upbringing could be the minefield of any post-divorce existence!!! I don’t recall if you raised this issue before (my bad if you have), but I have read about other divorced couples going to war (literally, in a couple of cases, to the detriment of the children’s physical well-being) over the fitness of one parent who doesn’t see the religious necessity being challenged for custody by the “religious” one. The challenge doesn’t always take place in court. This one HAS to be settled before the decree, or it will come back to bite you when you least expect it.

    As for who you tell what on your vacation, I wouldn’t broadcast it, but I wouldn’t lie about it either. If it makes you uncomfortable talking about it, my advice is to admit it’s happening (“yeah, we’re negotiating”) but decline politely to go into details (“nothing has been decided yet”). Then say nothing more. What else do people really need to know about your personal life before it turns into gossip anyway?

  5. heh. you should seriously get out of my head. it’s creeping me out. šŸ™‚

    i’m so with you. this past weekend was the first time i’ve been able to bring myself to say the words “we’re divorcing.” it was in friendly territory; these people were always my friends first, so there aren’t any divided loyalties or anything. but just the act of saying it has really given me the courage to keep the plans moving, to get some things said that need saying, and mostly to face the immediate future without him.

    and it made me realize that not saying it was a way to avoid the reality of things. i’d gotten pretty good at that. i’d start, if i were in your shoes, by telling the nearest and dearest you’ve got at the reunion (and if they’re more on your side than the other, so much the better). ask them to keep it on the QT, since it’s kinda sensitive. otherwise, play it by ear.

    and have the best time. reunions are great.

  6. “If only there was someplace I could go and share my thoughts without fear of being judged or of upsetting the applecart….”

    LOVE the esoteric in you!

  7. I’m very impressed with your writing, and I identify with a ton of it. I’m waiting for July 14th, the 366th day of physical separation and the first day I can file for a divorce decree in North Carolina.

    Late to the party on the whole vacation/divorce disclosure issue, but I just wanted to tell you…

    When I ended my marriage, the wasbund was afraid I had *already* changed my Facebook status and tweeted about it and written a post on my blog. (Which pissed me off, that he thought after a decade of marriage that I would notify social networks of our impending split BEFORE I TOLD HIM. Anyway).

    I gave him a week. Maybe it was less. I just remember telling him that only my best friend knew before him, and that I would give him until x before I made it public knowledge.

    When that deadline expired, I came out with it publicly.

    So, if you’re feeling oppressed, I would take a similar approach, with the understanding that you’ll need to shelter your children from finding out some other way that from you and Penny when the time is right.

    Because I’m a bandwidth hog and a general pain in the ass, I *must* address all this introvert business. Probably because I’m an introvert. šŸ˜‰

    Openness (a Big Five personality trait), or in English, Self-Disclosure Rate has NOTHING to do with introversion or extroversion. Introverts are energized by time spent in solitude and drained by time spent socializing. It has nothing to do with crowds and shopping and telling people stuff. I’ll tell you how I lost my virginity, hell, you could make it a guest post for all I care, and I am an introvert.

    When I read your posts, “introvert” reads like an insult, somehow.

    Because this comment is not already long enough, I do want to point out that what you refer to as introverted traits or behaviors in Penny (stress in crowds, stress in shopping, stress in preparing for guests) sounds like agoraphobia (which I had a very intimate relationship with for a very long time).

    Being an introvert only means that I have to have a certain amount of solitude to keep my sanity. I’ll talk your damn ear off, I’ll shake my ass on the dance floor, I will tell my life story in the airport, I’ll stay out till three with interesting strangers. The next few evenings, though, you’ll find me at home reading or writing or knitting. Alone.

    nice to meet you! šŸ˜‰

  8. Thank you all for your thought-provoking comments. And, welcome BigLittleWolf and verybadcat! Thank you for dropping by!

    I do plan to respond so some of these points in depth in an upcoming post. And yes, kitty, I know I’ve been using the term introvert as an unfortunate catch-all. I’ll address that soon.

  9. Seattle, I have nothing useful to add as
    usual except to tell you that discrete is not the same as discreet.

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