CAFE NOIR » Tales of an atheist, anarchist, wannabe filmmaker of sorts, and father of three lovable little beasties

Jessica and I are separating

It need not be a shameful or a terrible or a bitter thing. It need not be a thing only to whisper about in hushed tones, in private corners. That’s not to say it’s something I take for a moment lightly, particularly as we share three incredibly beautiful young children together–I’ve agonized over this decision for a very long time. But it’s not something to hide from.

I want you all to know that I look back at our 16 year romance (from the time we were 16!) with overwhelming gratitude and fondness and bittersweet nostalgia. We were just kids–the only person we each have ever dated, in fact–and we’ve shared a beautiful, mad, I’ll-eat-you-up-I-love-you-so sort of love through the immeasurably precious years of our teenage youth and young adulthood and young parenthood. I wouldn’t even dream of taking any of that back.

But it’s not a shameful thing to realize and accept that as we’ve each changed and grown, over the past several years especially, we’ve increasingly moved in very different directions in a number of ways. We’ve weathered far more than our fair share of distress and tangledness during this time, and I believe that we no longer can meet each other’s needs as fully as we once could and we each deserve.

I keep thinking of an analogy with parenting. Over the course of their youth, our kids grow and blossom in new directions, and they uncover changing needs and an ever-increasing sense of individuality from us. At a certain point (what, usually sometime in their teenage years? we’re just sensing a real hint of this now with Graham, who’s eight) this dynamic has become so pronounced that the difficult but courageous and respectful thing to do is to really begin to open our hands and let go with grace, rather than trying to cling possessively and fearfully to the relationship as it once was. Needless to say, the relationship begins to look very different than it once did, long ago, and it’s natural and necessary to mourn that lost youth. But with a healthy measure of mutual love and respect and cooperation, this new unfolding stage of the parent/child relationship is beautiful in its own ways, even if not as intensely, desperately, interdependently close.

It’s not a perfect analogy, to be sure. We both are the parents and we both are the kids. And of course this isn’t the case with every romance (all relationships involve bruises and challenges, even formidable ones, but I’m talking instead about grasping for something which has slipped away). However, I suspect that this process does play out to varying degrees and on varying schedules with almost all romances, whether we learn to begin opening our hands or not. And I’m not trying to prescribe what this opening of hands ought to look like in every case, though in our case, at least, I’m convinced that it looks like separation.

Obviously I’m speaking vaguely here, as the specific details are best kept fairly private. And the risk with a public note like this is that it comes across almost as flippant–that it can’t reflect the true weight of emotions and changing circumstances involved.

And I realize this might well sound hollow to some, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart: Jessica, I promise to do my best, in whichever ways I can, to continue to support you, and cheer you on, and co-parent our beautiful children with you, and be a good friend to you. I will always care deeply about you.