One of my first thoughts was how clearly this development points out that I am only in control of my part of the partnership, and the commitments I make do not bind her. While I readily agree that we've had to handle some tough challenges on the way to death do us part, I've never found divorce an attractive choice. Yet Ma'ikwe can opt out—and has done so twice—regardless of where my heat is on the matter.
Here are some high and low watermarks of our relationship:
Oct 29, 2005 We became lovers
Nov 18, 2005 We decided to get married
April 21, 2007 We got married in a blow-out four-day wedding in Albuquerque
July 11, 2008 Ma'ikwe moved to Dancing Rabbit
spring 2009 Ma'ikwe broke ground to start building Moon Lodge
2010 Ma'ikwe discovered she has Lyme disease and had a debilitating year (a lot of pain and a lot of bed rest)
2012 Ma'ikwe relapsed with Lyme and had another debilitating year
Feb 11, 2013 We had our first appointment with Kathy, our couples therapist, which continued for the next two years
July 14, 2013 Ma'ikwe announced that she wanted a divorce
Aug 26, 2013 Ma'kiwe agreed to try the marraige again
Nov 29, 2013 I moved out of Sandhill and started living in Moon Lodge with Ma'ikwe
July 14, 2014 We held a recommitment ceremony for our marriage
Oct 3, 2014 I strained my lower back lifting heavy boxes improperly
Oct, 2014-Jan 2015 I had restricted mobility (with a lot of bed rest) as I recovered from back pain
Feb 6, 2015 Ma'ikwe announced that she wanted a divorce
Our marriage has enjoyed many sublime and beautiful moments, and it's also been a gut-wrenching emotional roller coaster.
In this latest round of turmoil, Ma'ikwe first told me that she was again frustrated to the point of thinking about ending the relationship three weeks ago. Having reserved time with our therapist for Feb 3 (the day before I left on a four-week trip) I had understood we were waiting to work on her concerns with Kathy's help—which has frequently been a good idea. After one 90-minute appointment last Tuesday, Kathy was able to make another session available to us the same day. In trying to decide how best to use that opportunity I said my highest priority was using the time to give the best chance for us working through the issues that had brought Ma'ikwe to the brink again.
With that request on the table, Ma'ikwe decided to meet with Kathy alone. While I don't know what they discussed in the second session, three days later Ma'ikwe announced that she was done. In retrospect, I reckon by the time we got to Kathy I was essentially a dead man walking and just didn't know it yet.
I outlined in my previous blog some of the concerns that have been troubling Ma'ikwe lately and it all unraveled incredibly fast. The thing that hurts the most is that there was never much of an opportunity for me to address Ma'ikwe's concerns between her articulation of the issues and her unilateral decision to end it all.
I reckon staying with me represented too much slog for too little hope; she weary of trying to make it work and just needed to move on.
One interesting pattern I noticed is that both times Ma'ikwe got to clarity about wanting a divorce, the sequence started right after one of us came out of a long stretch of compromised health, where the person in recovery wasn't capable of doing serious relationship work. Both times I was caught off-guard by the build-up of negativity and critical analysis. I don't know if that's merely a coincidence or a smoking gun.
When weathering the localized storm of emotional turmoil that was triggered for me by Ma'ikwe's first decision to end the relationship in July 2013, I got enormous help from EMDR therapy with Kathy, which has permanently helped me be less reactive. This benefit, fortunately, is still available to me today (thank god) and helped both to stay afloat with my feelings and to not spiral down into a very dark, and blaming place. I know Ma'ikwe has been doing the best she can and I know that I will not die.
Oddly, it has also helped that I'm currently reading Wyvern (a semi-obscure 1988 novel by A A Attanasio). It contains a fantastical exploration of being alone while at the same time being in relation to spirit, in relation to other humans, and to the universe. The protagonist is an illegitimate blond blue-eyed boy of mixed Dutch/aboriginal stock who is raised as a sorcerer (or soul catcher) in the jungles of Borneo, and the book is full of cosmological and existential questions as explored through the eyes of “primitive” culture. This story is powerful medicine for me right now.
The bottom line is that Ma’ikwe no longer saw her future as fruitful with me and acted decisively to move on. Loving her, I support her getting what she wants—even if at the extreme of leaving me.
Having gone through this particular hell once already, it’s not so devastating the second time. I know I'll survive. Though I've been rejected, I'm not beating myself up.
Yet whither now? Fifteen months ago I've walked away from my community as part of my recommitment to the marriage. Can I go back? Is that what I want? Is that good for Sandhill? I don't know. I was mainly at DR to be with Ma'ikwe; now what?
Ma'ikwe and I have to navigate our professional relationships moving forward and to what extent, if any, it makes sense to try to work together. It's confusing for me to know how much I can trust her commitments at this point.
I went all-in on my relationship with Ma'ikwe, and still got rejected. While not an ending I was looking for, I knew at the time that it wasn't a guarantee and I don't regret the attempt. I am not bitter.
In addition to losing my wife, I'm losing my best friend—the person I'd been sharing my daily observations with. This is highly disrupting and I have no idea how I'm going to replace the comfort and groundedness that I derive from that level of subtle sharing.
Right now there's a large hole in my heart and it will take some time to figure out what it all means and how to adapt to my suddenly wifeless life.