musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Divorce Surgery

Today would have been my 35th wedding anniversary if my ex and I had stayed married (he left 4 years ago, and the divorce has been final for almost a year and a half).  It’s strange to have these days come along, an old anniversary that we used to celebrate and share the memories of, and now, not. But it’s still a big memory of a day that was special, so I tip my hat and acknowledge it for myself, feel the pangs of both happy thoughts and grief (which s-l-o-w-l-y softens over time).

Today feels like a good day to share a poem I’ve been working on for 2 years and finally finished. It took a long time and word-puzzling to have it say what I really want to say, using surgery as a metaphor. I think a lot of people can relate to the topic, considering the divorce rates. I’m including an audio of me reading the poem, so you can read or listen if you’re interested. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

 

DIVORCE SURGERY

1.
They stand before us in suits, not scrubs,
no scalpels or scopes in sight.
The cuts will be just as deep and precise
as they bisect us,
me from you,
you from me,
peering inside organs we’d grown to share
in our co-joined state,
snipping the sinews,
separating tendons and muscle
from bone.

But how?

2.
Words.
Flat black and white, formal:
Dissolution. Irretrievable
breakdown. Let the
judgment be entered
accordingly.
Mouthfuls
so much bigger than:
I do.

3.
We were the ones who
bound ourselves
with other words
and young hearts
long ago
in a freefall of giddy
love and dreams.
We were
so proud to stand in white before
that stone chapel full of everyone,
locking eyes as we spoke promises
in a world slowed down to
just
that
one
moment.

We were so sure
it would always
Be:  this
love / life / devotion
we shared.
How could it not?
We couldn’t imagine,
in our bluest nightmares,
ever ending up
Here.

4.
It’s a sterile procedure.
No blood will spill,
just my tears
with steady infusions of
anger, grief, regret, frustration,
despair. Hearts break in excruciating
jagged stabs.
Deep love lost
bends you over,
pulls you apart,
turns you inside out,
life now unrecognizable.

5.
A heavy anesthetic is available,
tempting but costly.
Not covered by any kind of
insurance. Recovery
will be slow.
You can’t see
it from here,
how your
future depends on
what you’re willing to feel
now. 

So I feel it,

6.
I look at you now,
my old love,
my ex,
my past,
our history:
you are so changed.
I am too. 

Sometimes I can’t
remember your once-
oh-so-familiar touch.
Other days
memories flood in fiercely and
I can’t stop them
(even when they hurt).
It’s a process,
sacred, strange, sad.
I will never be completely free.
See my scars?

7.
Pages and pages of words,
deftly razor-edged
to do what’s necessary now:
cutting and cutting,
two halves into
two wholes,
coupled
no more.

Words brought us together.
Words cut us apart.

8.
Sticks and stones
would hurt much less
than words,
don’t you think?
Than a love story,
written once upon a time,
being shredded
on a cold operating table.

I wait,
chest cracked open,
warm beating heart
exposed
for the final cut:
the judge’s signature.

Then wheel me
please
down the long hall
into
recovery.

 

–Theresa Jarosz Alberti, 2024


Photos courtesy of the National Cancer Institute and Tom the Photographer at Unsplash.com.

12 Comments

  1. Nora Jane Krahn

    This is such a moving poem.. the surgical analogy feels so right and so raw.
    Thank you for sharing this very personal piece. I do think many people can relate..

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Nora! This poem just wouldn’t let me go, despite many struggles with it. It was cathartic to write it.

  2. Serena Mira Asta

    Wow. You had me by the end of the second line (the first, really!). It speaks for me about many close relationships lost, not only marriage. Thank you for sticking with it.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thanks so much, my dear! It means a lot hearing that from you… and you’ve been with me through every step of it. I’m so grateful to you for that!

  3. Katie Watts

    Thank you for taking the time necessary to get this Just Right. As a friend, a fellow divorcee and a writer, I am proud of you for crafting this.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thank you so much, dear Katie. High praise coming from you! And I know you know it all too well, sigh. We are stronger in the broken places.

      • Katie Watts

        Because we have scar tissue in those broken places. We’ll never be who we were, but I have to wonder if that’s a good thing, as well as a sad thing. A friend went through The D Word three years before I and told her lawyer, “Don’t let me appear to be a victim.” When it was “my turn,” she sent me to the same lawyer. I took that as my mantra as well, and was honored when our lawyer praised me for refusing to be a victim.

        Bottom line: we have every reason to be proud of ourselves. We Got Through It. We Survived. And in many ways, we’ve thrived. I wish I were there to give you several dozen hugs.

        • Theresa Alberti

          Well said, my wise friend! There’s a lot of growth that happens (if you let it) going through very tough things like that. I’m proud of us too for the ways we are thriving. Someday we’ll got those several dozen hugs, you and I, I’d love that!

  4. Pam

    Theresa, this is so beautiful and painful at the same time. I feel you in every word. Hugs for the courage to write this, tip of the hat for your brilliant depiction of something so sad. Recovery is my wish for you.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thanks so much, Pam… I really appreciate your feedback and your empathy!

  5. Shari

    Stunning, Theresa. Well-honed and just right. You put the reader directly into your bleeding heart. I know you’ll be ok but healing will take time.

    • Theresa Alberti

      So good to hear from you, Shari,and I’m really touched by your comment! Writing the poem over a long haul has been part of my healing. It’s a long haul, and that’s just the way it is with any grief, as you know.

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