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When It Lingers, It Festers

When it lingers, it festers. And, my life, it is festering; it is uncertain in its transformation of a rancid variety. It is less than ideal. The wounds opened in divorce were not healing.

Seventy-four days have passed since that day, a day I realized was more wound inflicting than the day he left our family and filed for divorce. Seventy-four days ago, I relived the mistakes in my marriage, the embarrassment, the hard conversations, and the betrayals – from a witness stand. It wasn’t so much a re-enactment of the worst parts of my relationship as it was a scrapbook of those hard moments, pasted together in a collage of regret.

Seventy-four days ago, I recounted the discovery of his affair, our argument, and my mistake of letting our children see my tears and sharing too much. Seventy-four days ago, I asked the Court to make the difficult decision my husband and I couldn’t reconcile ourselves: who has primary custody of our daughters.

Seventy-four days ago, I walked out of the courtroom knowing a judge would make the ultimate decision that would impact every facet of my life. I instantly regretted it as the heavy double doors banged shut. I looked down the hall at my husband and his attorney huddled and knew I could, and I did, regret the right choice.

Seventy-four days ago, my attorney clapped my shoulder and said we just wait. Everything has changed, and nothing has changed until the judge decides our fate. The most important part of our lives is “under advisement.”

Seventy-four days ago, I left the courthouse to return to my parent’s house forty-five minutes out of town while my husband went to our home to our kids. I looked at my bags in my childhood bedroom knowing that on Sunday, we’d switch places for the week – and perhaps the Court would rule on our lives before the next Sunday would pass. Seventy-four days ago I was hopeful the Judge would decide so soon as within a week; stop the flip-flopping in our own home. Seventy-four days ago I assumed my divorce would be finalized.

But after fourteen days of continuing to nest in the marital home with my ex after trial -and realizing in that time my ex had brought a date home during his parenting time, with her sweater still draped on the back of the dining room chair for me to find – I felt trapped in this cycle; my life stuck in limbo, my children in the middle. But it is ‘under advisement.’

After twenty-eight days, I got an email from the sixth-grade teacher asking if our daughter was getting enough sleep at night because she struggling to stay awake in math the last few days. I couldn’t answer the teacher’s question because it was not my week with the kids, but suspected she wasn’t adhering to a bedtime with her dad. My ex ignored the thread altogether. She then failed the math test at the end of the week; my ex ignored that too. I feel like I am co-parenting with a ghost, present yet absent, there but not. I scramble to make up for his lapses in parenting during my week, hoping the next week won’t be like the last, hoping this cycle will change by final order. But it is ‘under advisement’ until then.

After forty-one days, the dryer broke with his wet clothes still in the tumbler. I arrived at the house on my day to the smell of mildew and grime with just a sticky note at the top to explain his neglect. I called for repair, paid the invoice, and rewashed his laundry. He ignored my request to reimburse me his half of the cost. I added it to my growing mental list of frustrations in sharing responsibility for a home with him week-on, week-off – knowing it would not change until the court ruled; accepting it was still ‘under advisement.’

Days forty-nine, fifty-three, sixty-two, sixty-eight, and seventy-one included him: failing to make it to our daughter’s dentist appointment, “accidentally” taking my laptop charger from the home and refusing to return it till his week, rescheduling the dentist visit on my time but not telling me until office left an appointment reminder on my voicemail, throwing out mail for me that I luckily found when taking out the trash he neglected to attend to, and ignoring another failed math test.

As our lives still remain ‘under advisement,’ the petty, stupid, annoying inconveniences of our nesting in the same home, parallel parenting week-on week-off is slicing microscopically against the best interests of our daughters. The tiny paper cuts of our divorce continue to stay open; they aren’t healing. They linger. They fester.

Festering wounds don’t end well.

Jess Lill