Same Sex Divorce 101

Firstly, congratulations! Your marriage failed! The thing our queer community in Australia fought so hard for is something you’ve failed to execute! Hooray! Bet you feel shit, yeah? Yeah. Whether you’re the leaver or the leavee, this process sucks. It’s worse than just a relationship break up because it’s MARRIAGE. And it FAILED.

Secondly, if you’re like me and you married an abusive arsehole of the same gender, you’re also going through the trauma of recovery! All the good times to be had!

Thirdly, you’re gonna have to wait one year and one day before you can apply for a divorce. This is so you can sort out whether there’s any chance of reconciliation, but again, if you’re like me, it’s just an opportunity to be manipulated, used and lied to by your narcissistic spouse for a whole ‘nother year because you’re an idiot who believed that they were just going through a crisis and the love you shared was real and worth fighting for.

You’re not an idiot. It happens to the best of us, and through this process you can finally learn that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it take responsibility for its terrible behaviour and get life-changing help before it abuses another horse.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re going through a same sex divorce in Australia.

  1. Take a breath. It’s shit, but it’s going to be okay. By the end of the process, you will feel better, even if you didn’t want the divorce in the first place.
  2. Get some therapy to help with the yuck feelings that are going to come up at various stages of the process. If you don’t deal with them feels, shit’s gonna get real.
  3. Your ex is gonna be a dick. You’re gonna be a dick. There’s going to be a lot of dicks happening, even in a lesbian divorce. Prepare yourself.
  4. Jump on to the Federal Circuit Court website here to find out how to apply for a divorce. Same sex couples can’t do it online yet, even though it’s been legal for over a year now, so I flung an email at the National Enquiry Centre and a lovely lady sent me back the printable pdf of the application.
  5. Okay, here’s the tricky bit, and it’s to do with fees and court appearances and all that. If both parties carry a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Card or any of that biz, you can submit a joint application and get a discount on the fee (about $300 down from the full fee of $1000). Both applicants have to sign the Affidavit and you don’t need to serve documents on the other party. Also, court attendance is not required if you file a joint application, but you can request an appearance if you want. I didn’t want, so I didn’t request. If only one of you has a concession card and you want the discount, then the card carrier has to submit a sole application. This means the applicant has to serve documents on the respondent, and if you have kids under 18, you have to go to court. You don’t have to go to court if there are no children.
  6. If you do not have combined assets or property, you don’t need a lawyer. Getting a divorce is expensive enough as it is, you don’t need the added cost of lawyer’s fees if it’s not necessary.
  7. You will need to get your application witnessed. I used the sergeant at my local police station. He was cool.
  8. Once the application and all its copies have been submitted, you will get a stamped copy back of your application with the date of the court hearing, even if you’re not attending court. I found this information helpful in preparing for the mental shitstorm that happened around that date.
  9. Once the court hearing is complete, your divorce will be finalised one month and one day from that date.
  10. Have a party. I did. It was very cathartic and you and your friends can yell “fuck you” to your absent ex as you smash a cake with their face on it.

I’m going to be honest, the entire process was brutal. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let my community down. My ideals and principles regarding marriage were shattered. I learned that there is very little support for same sex couples going through divorce, despite the amount of campaigning we did for marriage equality. Even though it is now legal, I felt that what I was going through wasn’t taken very seriously. Maybe because we’re still not used to the legality of our relationships, maybe because people didn’t realise I was actually legally married, maybe because not a lot of my friends in the community were married so they didn’t understand the gravity of it. I don’t know.

The nature of my relationship with my ex was confronting to a lot of people in the queer community, I realise now. People are uncomfortable with intimate partner violence anyway, and hearing about it makes the average person feel impotent, unable to offer support, unsure of what to say or do. A lot of people in the community still like my ex. She’s seen as a nice person, and because she’s a fairly well known performer, the community wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I would comment on the manipulative and controlling things that she did during the divorce process and they would back away slowly, unwilling to be involved, which is their prerogative.

However, I had overwhelming support and love and respect too. So much so that there was a crowd of people at my divorce party, there to celebrate and commiserate with me, there to cheer as I continue to move on to a greater life as a gay (bisexual) divorcee, finally free of an awful lie of a relationship.

My ex wife’s ex was there. A woman who I had previously maligned in my attempt to remain loyal and supportive to my wife; a woman who graciously gave me her hand in support when I needed it most as she understood that we have a unique shared experience of surviving an abusive narcissist; a woman who I feel I need to apologise to and thank for the rest of my life was there, raising a glass with me. Solidarity in survival.

So, yes. My greatest advice for going through a divorce? Have your tribe with you. The people who have proven their loyalty and trustworthiness are the ones to have by your side. They will keep you sane and they will remind you that you are not a failure, that you do deserve real love. They will remind you just by being there that although this is an ending, it is also a very bright beginning.

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You used to take my breath away. There was a time when I’d look at you and my heart would stop, just for a moment. I’d watch you dance and my knees would buckle at the heat emanating from my very core. I used to wonder how I got so lucky to get someone as sexy, as talented, as wonderful as you.

Now, it’s all been exposed as an illusion. You tag me in things because I wrote music for you, hoping I’m sure, to impress me. But I can see through it all now. It doesn’t impress me. I don’t feel the same heat. In fact, I feel a passing indifference. It’s all the same. The same moves, the same looks, the same songs, all directed at someone else, all trying to show me what I’m missing out on. I’m not missing out on much.

Today, though. Today was different. It was supposed to be a day of celebration, a day of love. It was, but I walked into that room where three years ago we exchanged vows that I thought were sacred, that I took very seriously, and it all came crashing down. Here, in this room, where another same sex couple were joining themselves together under the law, where I thought my life as a married woman had begun, I was reminded that you got away scot free. You walked away relatively unscathed. You don’t have to be confronted with any of this.

I returned to New Zealand seeking solace. Seeking my home. I didn’t find it. I hadn’t been home since my mother died, since you and I became wives, and it all slapped me hard in the face. You don’t have to feel any of this. You keep telling me that you were hurting too when you ended our marriage, but how could you have been? You will never be forced to come back here and go to the places we went to together, to relive those times now knowing it meant nothing to you. You do not have to look into the eyes of my family that took vows with you to help us to honour our union and admit that you fucked up. You will never be forced to remember, to have your home forever linked with something that was so full of promise, but wasn’t treasured as it should have been. You can just walk away into another person’s arms and never have to take responsibility for the pain you caused because you’re so good at pretending that everything’s fine.

I have to carry that weight. I have to carry it for both of us. Still. And I hate you for that.

But …

But, I’ve met someone else. I’ve met a man that has opened my eyes and my heart. I’ve met a man who has reminded me that I’m allowed to be beautiful, that I’m fascinating, that I’m intelligent, that I’m sexy. All the things you failed to see in me, he sees. I’ve met a man at a time when I don’t want a man’s attention. I’ve met a man at a time when I don’t need anyone’s attention, and yet here it is. And it’s reawakened in me the knowledge of my own power as a woman. It doesn’t lie with you. It doesn’t lie with him, either. It’s all within me and it’s all mine.

I am not pursuing this man. He came into my life simply as a signpost. He has reminded me that I am not your soon-to-be ex wife. I am not a divorcee. I am not one of many of the broken souls you have left behind. I am not one of your victims. I am better than how you left me. I am better than how you treated me.

I am moving on.

Onwards

A Woman of Wonder

I miss something that doesn’t exist. A whisper, a feeling, a brush of a hand. It used to be so solid, so clear. Now it’s fuzzy and distant, this thing I miss. It’s like trying to embrace a cloud.

I took my first plane trip when I was 11. My brothers and I flew over to Australia to see my dad. As we flew I looked out the airplane window and imagined I was flying through the clouds, bouncing off each one like they were cotton balls. My mother had parachuted through a cloud back in her Navy days. She described it as passing through damp gossamer. Clouds have no substance, she told me. They’re like dreams.

On long road trips past oceans, I’d imagine the sea had frozen and I was ice skating over the waves. It gave me a feeling of freedom and power to believe that on some plane of existence I could conquer the impossible. 10 year old me could command the weather, use my ridiculously long hair as lightning, stop an oncoming train with a look. In my mind, I was unstoppable.

It should be no surprise that Wonder Woman was my first crush as a kid. I became obsessed with her at the age of 5. She encapsulates everything I want to be: strong, fast, awesome boobs, a lasso of truth, the ability to run in heels and an innate capacity to take no shit. She’s a saviour with good and honest morals and values. She’ll cut a bitch, but only if that bitch is violating the liberty of someone else. Also, she likes girls and boys, but that’s besides the point.

Being my own version of Wonder Woman is intoxicating, particularly when someone else is prepared to be Steve (or Stephanie) Trevor. Being the one who saves the day is empowering and satisfying and ego stroking and extremely dangerous. It lulls one into a false sense of invulnerability, which then makes the inevitable fall from the messiah pedestal that much more painful.

The thing about superheroes is, they don’t exist. I mean, yes, there are extraordinary people who do amazing, miraculous things, but they’re just people. No capes, no superpowers. No one can leap tall buildings in a single bound. If only. There are plenty of damsels and dudes in distress, though, that fuel the need for superheroes. But it’s false. No one can save anyone else. We can only rescue ourselves, truth be told, and I used all the skills I learned in my journey through life for the one I loved, all the while forgetting that even Batman was not always everybody’s favourite guy in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne had to eventually acknowledge that saving the day was not going to take away his trauma.

Growing up has a tendency to curb those thoughts of indestructibility, to transform them into things more attainable. There’s always been a part of my mind, however, that has believed that the improbable is still possible. The Universe has a way of making things happen along a path we least expect. Goals can be achieved, dreams can come true.

Ah, yes. Those dreams again. Paper thin and fragile. Unsubstantial and deceptive, like a cloud. Like you turned out to be. My cumulonimbus. I believed in those dreams, in those clouds of my youth. I allowed myself to be swept up in the fantasy, in the idea that me and my love could overcome anything, that the Wonder Woman inside me would stay vigilant and true. It could have, but it didn’t exist. I miss a thing that didn’t exist. I miss my Paradise Island. I miss you – not the victim you, not the damsel you, certainly not the abusive you, but the version of you that was loving and strong and generous and kind and honest. Sadly, that version you gave to me was as false as it was true. What I felt was truth. Who I felt it for wasn’t.

So, my heart breaks one last time as I reach for those flimsy, filmy illusions, wishing so hard that they were real. Wishing I could grasp them to my heart because they were so beautiful. My belief in making the impossible probable hasn’t died. I’m sure you didn’t intend for your abuse of my love to do that, any more than my saviour complex was intended to deny you your autonomy. I like to think you’re not aware of what you do to people. I guess I’ll never know.

But, it’s no one else’s concern, my awakening. It is mine. My renewal is my responsibility. For probably the first time in my life, I’m being my own superhero. I’m saving myself and although I have wise, wonderful, pull-no-punches honest friends and family to guide me, I’m doing it alone.

And it feels so good.

 

A Woman Scorned

I hate liars. I hate being lied to and I hate being lied about. I have spent the last three months being lied to by a person I loved. A person I trusted has continually twisted the truth, even when asked point blank. Now she’s lying to my friends. Misrepresenting me and situations I’m in to my friends.

Now, of course, I wonder what else she has lied about. I dedicated a whole blog post to her story once and I wonder how much of it is true. I don’t know if she was an abuser. I just think she is and was an asshole.

You know, when you go through a break up, there’s always one person who feels they’re the victim, the one wronged, when in actuality it is always both who are the aggressor and the victim simultaneously. I’ve gone back over the last three and a half years and recounted all the things I did wrong. There’s a fair few of them. Mistakes, moments of anger, moments of hurt, all the while trying to deal with the horror of watching my mother die. Over the past year, though, while she was saying she was unhappy, I was throwing everything I had into her career. I put my stuff to the side as I became her manager, the director of her shows, her music editor, her publicist. I spent time, money, energy and love on her life whilst learning new things and discovering abilities I didn’t know I had. I put our marriage to the side because I thought we were strong enough for that. And I thought once it was all done, once she was on her way, we could reconnect and then it would be my turn. But no. Once it was all done, almost immediately in fact, she started an inappropriate relationship with an 18 year old girl. And she did this behind my back. And then she kissed this girl in the middle of a dance floor surrounded by our mutual friends. And lied to me about it. All of it. I had to confront her with the fact that this had been confirmed by someone else before she admitted it was true.

She was scared I was going to leave her. She made a lame, manipulative attempt at her own life because she was so scared. I was with her the whole time. I was still angry, hurt and betrayed, but I stayed with her because we were married and marriage means working through the shit.

We decided we would stay together. We both made the decision, but then she fucked up again. When I was sick in bed, she went out and got drunk three nights in a row. One of those nights she was with the 18 year old idiot. She says nothing happened. I believed her. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Two days later she ambushed me at our therapy session saying she didn’t want to be in the marriage anymore and hadn’t for a long time. She said I had disappeared. She said I was always tired. She didn’t want to have sex with me because I was always complaining that I was fat. Well, so did she. All the time. But what’s good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.

We separated. I took her word for it. She flip flopped back and forth between us going on a “break” and us divorcing. We agreed to a six month break. She told me, my family and my friends that she wanted to “find” herself so that we could reconnect in the future. She told my sister that she would fight for us.

She lied.

Two days later she told me our marriage wasn’t working because she couldn’t deal with my mental illness. She told me it was over and she was never coming back and I should have known that. I asked her what had changed. She said “I’m getting shit done.” I asked her if there was someone else. She said no. I asked her if she had fucked someone else. She said no.

She lied.

She said I could stay in the apartment until I found somewhere else to live even though I had just lost my job, had no money and my father had just left the country. She left to go to her sister’s. That apartment was toxic. I became unsafe.

I was placed on unofficial suicide watch from that day, a Monday. While she was away at her sister’s I moved all of my things out and went to stay somewhere else. My brother, my poor caught-in-the-middle brother who was waiting for the call to go back overseas for work had paid rent and stayed in the apartment. I didn’t speak to her for a week.

She had promised me, her best friend and her therapist that she would stay single. She told me she was scared of doing it alone, but she would try.

She lied.

I contacted her after a week. I asked if I could come see our cat, Orpheus. She told me the 18 year old was there. I was in a restaurant at the time. I had to be taken out the back where I collapsed. A friend was with me and was scared for my safety.

She tried calling me that night, but I had blocked her. The friend of mine had sent her a nasty message and she wanted to see me to talk about that and finances. She got hold of me the next day saying this was getting out of hand. Could we meet? I said no. She pushed and said I was telling lies about her and she was suffering, but she loved and respected me. I told her I was suicidal and didn’t want to see her. She pushed more. I agreed to meet.

We met. She told me she missed me, wanted me in her life, she still loved me and she told me that maybe we could be together again. She told me she was drinking all the time, not eating, and that the girl I suspected she was fucking was her “business partner”.

She lied.

She later told a mutual friend that she had never said that. She lied.

She kept asking me what we were going to do. I told her I didn’t know, I couldn’t answer that question for her. I said I was still in love with her but it was not healthy for me to see her as she couldn’t give me what I wanted. She insisted on staying in contact with me. I relented and we made plans to meet again in a week. We hugged. She told me to look after myself. Please. Losing me would tear her apart.

Two days later I went to the apartment to pick up my brother. I saw her and the 18 year old idiot walking up the path to the apartment I had left less than a week before. I had an anxiety attack. A bad one. A mutual friend left work to come get me. My brother sat in the car with his arm around me as I sobbed. My friend went upstairs to tell her to give me some space, to leave me alone. As I was in the car, she came downstairs. My friend was angry. She stood by the car and stared at me saying little. I railed at her. She accused my brother of spying on her. She lied. She accused me of abusing her during our relationship. She lied. She told me again that she loved me. She lied. She told my friend that she was dealing with this break up on her own.

She lied and lied and lied.

I was taken to the hospital. At the hospital, waiting to be assessed, I forced my brother to tell me what he knew. He had heard them. He had heard her fucking the 18 year old in our apartment – sorry, her apartment less than a month after we separated and less than a week after I moved out. I lost my shit. I thought I was going insane. I sent her the foulest message I have ever sent anyone in my life. I wanted to destroy her. I wanted to put my death on her. It was a shitty thing to do. I couldn’t control the pain.

I wanted to die and she kept lying and lying and lying.

Now today, she told me she’s happy. That it was all worth it, all the pain, the cruelty, all the disrespect she showed me. She’s extremely happy – and bloated from all the drink, pimpled, broke, and still fucking the teenager. She has no shame. But, you know, at least she’s happy.

I would like to wake up now. I would like to wake up and six months have passed, and I have my own home, my cats are with me, I’m acting again, and I no longer hurt. To say this all feels like a surreal dream is a predictable cliché, but there you have it. Clichés become clichés because they’re rooted in truth.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s such a childish, naïve thing to say, but again it’s rooted in truth. I got married to prevent this from happening, because marriage means staying together and working through it when things get tough. If it doesn’t work, you make it work because you got married. You made vows. You signed a legal document. It’s like a legal promise to not give up when shit gets hard. That’s also called being an adult. Some of us are better than others at that.

I’m here, living now. I no longer want to die. The voices in my head telling me that her treatment of me proves that I’m worthless are being drowned out by anger. Fury. Rage. She is denying that I paid back a loan I got from my boss to pay for the first term of her dance school. She is denying that she ever told me she wanted to possibly work towards being together in the future. She is using the treatment she received from her ex as a way to silence me from publicly reacting to her utter arseholery. Fuck that.

I mentioned above that I have gone through all the mistakes I made in our relationship. Let me tell you, there is nothing – nothing that I have done to deserve this. Nothing.

I have done nothing except be too good for her. I have done nothing but love her despite her immaturity and selfishness. I have done nothing but provide a home and support and encouragement. I have done nothing but ask for the same in return.

She does not deserve me. Not now. Maybe not ever. The measure of a person is weighed by how they take responsibility for their own shit. She has been found wanting. And she will crash and burn and be left in exactly the position she is fighting so hard not to be in:

Alone.

I, on the other hand, will rise up and shine like I have always shone. I will blind her and everyone around her with my dazzling power. I hit rock bottom. But I’m a fucking goddess, and I will smite anyone who tries to dim my light.

I am better than all of this.

🖕