Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Bombshell Email

I set a deadline of May 5th to finally tell my parents that Gabbie and I split up after 25 years of marriage.

Preparing to tell them has been high-anxiety for me.  The fact that Gabbie and I have actually been separated for more than four years makes the situation especially awkward.  Do I pretend the break-up just happened?  Or do I confess it's been years and I'm only now telling them?

I've waited four years for a few reasons...

At first, I actually hoped Gabbie and I would get back together.  Then, once I was cured of that affliction, I wanted us to stay legally bound so Gabbie couldn't marry her former, loser, alcoholic boyfriend and get him a green card.  Finally, after that asshole was deported, my last grandparent died leaving a somewhat disorganized estate to be settled.  My mother was the executor and had no clue what to do. I had to help her, which meant we spoke frequently.  Sharing the news of the split at that time would have given her regular opportunities to pour acid into my wounds, so I decided to wait until after the estate was settled (which it still isn't, more than two years later).

Further complicating matters have been my kids.  In order to perpetuate the ruse that Gabbie and I are still together, they've had to be fully cooperative AND very cautious of what they say.  That's been hard for them, especially as their daily lives have diverged more and more from Gabbie's.  It was actually my kids' complaints this past December, when we had an awkward family brunch with my parents, that convinced me I couldn't wait another year.

In preparation for breaking the news I've been in black-out mode with my parents since late January.  It would have been weird to have regular contact with them and then suddenly announce my marriage was over.  I knew black-out mode would end on Mother's Day so coming clean before then has been on my mind for months.

A twist occurred in February when Gabbie surprised me by saying she wanted to file for a civil annulment as soon as possible.  After that news, I wondered if I should I time my announcement to my parents for before or after she filed?  Or, should I wait until our marriage was actually nullified and then tell them?

Ten days before my self-imposed May 5th deadline, I finally sat down to try to write the dreaded "bombshell" email to my parents, sister and extended family.  In addition to telling them about the split, I wanted to make it clear that Gabbie and I remain close, that Gabbie should continue to be a part of the family, and that I didn't want to discuss the details of our separation.

I expected the email to be very difficult to write for a lot of reasons, but what most concerned me was how to disclose the right amount of information to fully satisfy my parents' relentless "curiosity".  I knew if I was too cryptic, my mother would verbally knife me until I confessed everything, or was dead, whichever came first. (Death.)

I had two false starts as I began to write but on the third attempt the words just flowed.  In less than an hour I'd written a comprehensive message that felt surprisingly awesome.

I couldn't believe it, but after four years of delay I actually felt empowered and ready to drop the bomb with amazingly little angst!  All I needed to do was let the draft sit for a few days, finalize it and forward it to Gabbie for her feedback.  What a relief to have this monkey off my back!

As it turned out, Gabbie never saw the draft.

The day after I wrote it, she called to say that she was having second thoughts about filing for an annulment. She said she needed to have a serious talk with her boyfriend about his expectations for their future together first. She wanted him to promise that they would marry within the next year.

I had to a stifle a laugh when she told this because it's classic Gabbie.  As dumb as she can be about some things, she takes her financial security very seriously.  If Ken doesn't marry her, and our marriage is annulled, she'd risk having to carry herself financially for the rest of her life, something she definitely does not want to do.

It turned out that never-married, 50yo Ken was unwilling to make the promise Gabbie wanted.  He needs six months, he says, to save more money before making such a momentous commitment.  Gabbie told him she understood, and she does, but she also told me she's not going to wait too long.  "If we're already living together, why would he want to get married?"  "He wouldn't," I agreed.

So now Gabbie has postponed her annulment filing for six months AND she's asked me not to tell my parents we are separated.

Huh??

I actually didn't ask her for an explanation because my initial reaction was pure relief.  That awkward, horrible conversation has once again been avoided!!  Yeeha!!

But then, a short time later, I found myself rather disappointed.  Apparently I really *do* want that monkey off my back.

I can live with a six month delay but not much more.  Keeping the secret during the holidays is very difficult.  I don't want to do it again this year.  Also, I promised the kids they'd be off the hook by next Christmas.

What's most bizarre to me in all this is my own reaction.  I wasn't happy when Gabbie asked for the annulment sooner than I expected, and now that the timetable is back to what we originally discussed, I'm not happy about that either.  It seems that I can't be happy being single or married!

Mostly what I need, I think, is a happy future to anticipate.  Who cares about the past if you know good days are just ahead??

More about the future in my next post. 

Thanks for reading and commenting!

It's impossible to take Zac Efron seriously...but that body...wow!