the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Feeling Divorced


In 2005, I separated from my wife.

But it wasn’t a real separation because we still saw each other every day.

In 2010, we decided that it was time to file for divorce.

But her father-in-law became sick, so we had to help care for him, and then her mother died from all the stress, right before her stepfather died, so we never had a chance to get a divorce.

In 2011, we did file for divorce with California.

But we filed it incorrectly, and it got them returned to us, and we didn’t touch the paperwork for another eight months.

In 2012, we re-filed the paperwork.   And finally, we were divorced.  We got the notice in the mail.

But it didn’t feel like divorce.  I was still living in the same house for half of the year, and we shared all expenses.   And we were still arguing about the same issues.  It was as if we had tossed away all of the good parts of marriage, only to keep the negatives.  We treated the divorce notice as irrelevant,  as valid as Monopoly money.  It didn’t matter what California said.  We would keep working at this forever.

In 2013, I met another woman online and I traveled to New Zealand to see her.

But even during this budding international romance, I still never FELT completely divorced.  And Juli, the woman in New Zealand, told me so.  I hid from my ex-wife when she called me on the phone.  It was if I felt uncomfortable making a new life for myself without her approval.  I was tied to her, if not like husband and wife, at least like “brother and sister.” It was not healthy, and my ex and I, who once loved each other dearly, were beginning to hate each other.

My last month in Los Angeles was a traumatic one.  I turned in my key.  I removed myself from the phone “family plan.”  I moved my books into storage.  It was tense and awful month, especially coming immediately after the most beautiful one in New Zealand.

Today, I spoke on the phone with my ex-wife about some lingering issues. She is beginning to have her own life.  Her own hobbies and friends.   We argued about some money, of course,  just for old time’s sake, but it didn’t feel the same.  There have been so many changes down the road, that we are different people than when we first got married, wearing that tuxedo and white dress.  We are not husband and wife. We are not brother and sister. I’m not sure we are even friends. Not yet.  For now, it seemed more like a conversation between ex-business partners.

For better or for worse, for sickness or for health, eight years after our “separation” and two and a half years after we first filed the paperwork, I finally felt divorced — that is, emotionally.   And I don’t say that cruelly.  It is necessary.


  1. Emily

    I am really, really glad to read this.

  2. Mir

    This means you’re moving forward, and I’m happy for you. Also I think you may yet work back around to a “friends” place with your ex, but you’re right, this is necessary. Think of the uncomfortable parts of it like growing pains.

  3. zchamu

    The process of detangling ourselves from previous lives is a long and confusing one. I wonder if you ever really are completely untangled from someone you once loved and/or shared a life with. Even years later, I still find things in my home that an ex bought or would have still wanted. Lives aren’t all that neat and tidy, able to be excised thoroughly with a pair of sharp scissors.

  4. Vodkamom

    I’m beginning to wonder the same myself. When, oh when, are you free?

    And yet the free doesn’t adequately express that particular thought, does it?

    Hmmmm, only the universe knows for sure…

  5. Mary Pat

    Great post.. I honestly think REAL separation is the key to a divorce. I could have written a similar post myself. Crazy things happened, my attorney said we couldn’t even file for divorce until we had separate addresses and I couldn’t get my ex out of the basement.. then there was rehab and oy what a clusterfucky mess. Now I have a new love.. but my ex in laws are still part of my life, in a good way.. my ex’s son is part of my life in a good way.. and my ex via IM is still part of my life. I am not in love with him, we don’t argue.. it’s OK. Do I feel divorced.. hmmmmm yes.. the brick on my heart that was crushing me is gone.. my new love has me to the point where I am feeling like I have control over my own future. It’s taken years to get that feeling again. I hope you start feeling divorced soon.. cause it’s wonderful!

  6. Erykah

    Breaking up is hard to do.

  7. rewind revise

    Great post!

  8. pam

    So Neil.

    I had weird lingering stuff with my ex for YEARS. We were officially divorced. I’d moved a thousand miles away. I was wildly in love with someone new (my husband, now). And this weird transitional feeling lasted for years. And then, for some reason, he was in town and we had dinner. And I sat across the table from him and realized that I simply Did Not Care about what he was saying. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t wish him ill, or think him an asshole, or anything like that, but I was over it. Done. Divorced.

    I guess it takes as long as it takes. Which in my case was, um, three years? Ish?

  9. marty

    Personally, I felt divorced before I was divorced. Alone. So I guess it just depends on the relationship.

    I’m glad for you though. Moving forward is hard work.

  10. kenju

    You can’t move into your future if you are still holding on to the past. Good for you for realizing it came to an end.

  11. Susan Elwell

    This post comes at a time when I have to interview someone who has gone through divorce and I wish I had someone with such a complex story as yours to interview. Most of the divorces I know of are mean and quick and nasty. Yours is more interesting than any of those and I am glad that you are finally get some resolution, for better or worse.

  12. Danny

    There’s nothing cruel about that final statement and I’m so glad you’re finally able to say it and feel it! For the record, it took me quite a while, too, unlike my ex-wife who declared we were divorced long before any paperwork was filed.

  13. Avitable

    I’ve thought for a long time that your divorce had to be one of the hardest because it never seemed final, and that constant connection makes it almost impossible to move on. I’m happy for you.

  14. Stacey

    This post made me think of the handful of writers I’ve been consistently following and reflect on how much everyone’s lives have changed over the years. Seems like a lot of folks are at a point of new beginnings. It’s good to see you’re moving forward.

  15. Sarah Piazza

    It IS necessary. And ultimately healthy.

    (silent cheer)

  16. Marta

    It’s not cruel. It is necessary and true and needed. I’m glad you got there.

  17. Megan

    It makes me happy, oddly, that you feel this way. It’s high time you let go. I can’t help but think that you and Sophia will end up as friends, but this was a necessary step. You have to walk away for a while before you can change the relationship. And if you never become friends, that’s OK too.

  18. alejna

    So glad that you are reaching this point. You’ve needed it.

  19. kateanon

    I left in November 2008, but was emotionally removed for several months. I was gone for over a year, living with someone else before everything was finalized, finally.

    I believe it was several months after I received the paperwork that I finally “felt” divorced. I had been living my new life long before the court decided, and I suppose part of me felt that the minute I drove away. However, it was a trip to get my belongings from storage by myself where it really hit home.

    I’m glad you feel that finality, it is the ending you need before you can truly begin.

  20. Al_Pal

    Hurrah for moving on!

  21. ozma

    Good for you! Lovely.

    But dang, that was a seriously epic time you had divorcing. Now I see there could be some (maybe just temporary) benefit to hating your ex’s guts.

  22. sizzle

    A long time coming but here you are.

    I can’t believe I’ve known you that long (didn’t we meet before you guys were even separated? I think so.)


  23. Artur

    It must have been hard for you, but I’m glad that you’re finally free. With all those that you went through, I guess you deserved it. You deserved this.

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