Now that Lorna is alone, what happens to her relationship with Chuck?

My hair will be as smooth as Clark Gable's the next time I use my patented follicle tamer. The first 58 it didn't work for some reason.

Albert Einstein was a genius. He’s known mostly for his pithy quotes and theories that few people understand, but agree with. He could have saved a lot of people a lot of money on psychotherapy if they just listened to him when he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When I say “people,” I’m referring to me.

Chuck and I worked out a system of communication so we I he we managed our bills and other superfluous important business. We were very polite acquaintances managing our daily affairs through phone calls and occasional meetings at the house. I thought it was odd, but very courteous, that he asked to enter his own home. As long as conversations stayed on a “strictly business” level, things were fine. If I ventured into the land of “feelings,” I tripped an alarm that signaled either his hasty exit or a difficult conversation filled with the my specific help-me-understand questions and his evasive non-answers. I wrote down his answers in an attempt to piece them together later, as if they were clues and I was Detective Columbo.

Can you talk a little slower? My memory ain't what it used to be. So, when you say you need to find yourself, exactly where you lookin'?

After about two weeks of living alone, I noticed some interesting developments:

  1. I was calmer.
  2. I slept better.
  3. I liked my independence.
  4. I still didn’t understand exactly why he left, but I saw how much pain he was in and realized he deserved happiness.

Never predictable, Chuck suggested that we try marriage counseling.  Since I’d been advocating for counseling for months, I felt obliged to go along even though I felt the timing was fruit-loops unfortunate.

Sure. Why not? It worked so well the last time.

I’m bound by the sanctity of counselor-client confidentiality not to reveal the details of what transpired during the 3 months (mid-November 2009 through mid-February 2101) we saw the same marriage counselor we saw over a decade ago. I feel safe revealing these facts observations biased recollections:

  1. Chuck and I were equally confused, but for different reasons. He wanted out of the marriage, but was conflicted about those blasted wedding vows and that he still wanted me in his life, but only in a very limited way (as a friend? someone to have dinner with every so often? for appearances?). I wanted a straight answer from him about what “finding himself” meant so I could decide if I wanted what he found.
  2. We loved each other in that I’ve-Grown-Accustomed-To-Your-Face-And Secrets way. We weren’t in love with each other.
  3. The first round of marriage counseling didn’t work as well for Chuck as it did for me. Turns out, I was much better at forgiving and letting go than he was. I’d given him too big a pile of things to forgive, and he reminded me of all them one particularly difficult session. By the end of it, I was convinced I was solely responsible for my father’s suicide. I wasn’t interested in answers to his discontent any longer. He was clearly in pain, wanted a scapegoat and I was bleating all over the floor. Old Albert was right—insanity.

The two of them agreed the next step was a formal separation. They seemed sure; who was I to argue? The counselor suggested something called a “compassionate divorce,” psychotic psychologist-speak for negotiating our terms of “forever until divorce does us part” without lawyers, thus saving us the high financial emotional cost of the contentious legal system. Everyone who cared about me told me to hire the sharkiest sharpest lawyer in the world area and take what was rightfully mine. Chuck and the counselor assured me that a local Mediation service was fair, reasonable, and quick. That sounded good to me.

Quick. I like the sound of that. Just get me out of here.

To satisfy everyone else, I met with a lawyer who provoked my typical “freeze” response in the face of danger. He explained to me that half of everything we owned, including Chuck’s business and all properties, was mine. For a retainer of $1,500 and an estimated $5,000-20,000 more (depending on how complicated things got), he would be happy to handle my negotiations. Chuck was a very complicated fellow. I saw myself 5 years in the future still bickering with Chuck while in a hospital bed, hooked up to feeding tubes and IV drips.  Mediation it was.

How much just to have you write a letter to his lawyer? Excuse me while I go into shock.

Chuck wanted me to keep the “Broken House.” Like Alex, I’d grown attached to it in the 20 years I’d lived there. But the house, it seemed, didn’t want me. Almost to the day Chuck left, things went wrong with the place. The worst of it was the furnace. It behaved like a cantankerous burro, working only when it felt like it. Furnace Repair Guy developed a crush on me. No. I needed a fresh start in a home I could manage.

Being budget-challenged, I sharpened my Excel spread-sheet and did my best to guess my monthly expenses in a pretend home. All I wanted was financial security to live on my own for the rest of my life. I left everything “we” owned to him. I wanted money to get into a modest home and monthly support to pay a mortgage. Chuck just had to bargain me down; he was a business man, after all. We finally came to terms and were legally separated on Good Friday, April 2, 2010.

Quick! Take the bloody picture. This split is harder on some parts than I'm letting on. Guess which ones.

It’s not over yet…