C’est ma vie

photo-57My name is Michelle. I live in Chicago and work in publishing. I am 36 years old, divorced and have a little girl named Sabine who is my joy, my heart. We share our little space in Chicago with a black mutt named Maisy.

Like most divorces, mine is complicated by myraid factors, one large one being O.’s bi-polar diagnosis, which occurred not long before he came home one day and told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. I’ve watched many children be mangled in bad divorces, though, so I try hard to keep my relationship with O. as amicable as possible. My compass points in this direction when I think of my little girl and this divorce: “I don’t ever want her to feel guilty for loving her dad or feel bad for having good feelings about him.”

When I was 26 and working to get through graduate school, I lost the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with when a drunk driver hit him while he was walking home. In these pages, I write quite a bit about dealing with grief—from losing K. to watching my marriage disintegrate to getting to know this new life, this new me.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, however, that bundled up with some of this sorrow is a great deal of happiness and sincere joy. My life, for all of its ups and downs, has been pretty charmed, too. So, don’t worry, I won’t always just contemplate the gloom. Have a look around, and I’d love if you’d drop me a line.

Five random facts about me:

1. When I was in junior high, I tooted in math class and blamed it on the boy who sat behind me. To my surprise, the girl sitting next to me said, “Michelle, Larry’s not here today.” Lesson learned: Look behind you before laying blame.

2. I ran for class vice president when I was in seventh grade and lost. Another member of my homeroom was elected, and our teacher simultaneously offered me condolences and him congratulations. Lesson learned: Losing sucks, but you live through it.

3. In fifth grade, my teacher made my class watch a film called “Say Good-bye,” which showcased such gems as the clubbing of seals, an elephant slowly dying of starvation because someone had slit its trunk and a giraffe bleeding to death from a spear wound in its neck. Lesson learned: I don’t like seeing the senseless torture of innocent animals. Also, my fifth grade teacher was insane.

4. The first and probably last time I told my mother I hated her she had just told me I couldn’t attend a “teen dance.” I can still see the hurt in her eyes, and I’ve never wanted three words back more than those three, even all of these years later. Lesson learned: Teenagers are assholes.

5. I left a small town in the Midwest to attend an even smaller liberal arts college on the East Coast. I was scared shitless, and didn’t know a soul, but I learned more about myself and my talents in those four years than any other time in my life. Lesson learned: Risk almost always brings reward.

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