I’ve always been very open on the stage. My act is about my life, the good and bad. In fact, I’ve discussed some of the worst moments of my life on a stage at one time or another. In the last several months, I’ve been writing, re-writing, reading, working on myself on a number of levels. I have reached a point in my life where I have never been so positive or optimistic. Why? Life for me has become more about acceptance than expectance. Old Lenny expected things, new Lenny has learned it’s better to accept things. The two but heads occasionally, but it has been an eye-opening journey. I’d like to try to make “Transition time…again” a semi-regular piece about this journey. No. 1 will be: Parenthood, No. 2 will be the multiple pages of stuff I wrote over the last year or so. Some will find its way in future pieces. Some will never been seen by humans…. EVER!!! No. 3 will be a combination of some of the stuff I’ve wrote to myself over the last year specifically about divorce. We will call this the final chapter on divorce. This one will be…
Transition to… Divorce
Divorce itself is a big transition. However, within that one big transition, are several small ones.
My wife filed for divorce. It kind of caught me off guard. Looking back I don’t know why it did. We were always fighting. Still, it wasn’t on my to-do list. I was a crying little bitch for most of the first year. I complete mess. I lost a lot of weight that year. A steady diet of scotch and cigarettes will do that to you. Oh, I looked great, but I felt like Oscar Madison and Keith Richards. What really made it tough was, this was not an “I want a divorce, end of story thing”. We’d go from hating each other, to hating to be without each other in a matter of hours. And every time she wanted me back, I ran back like a puppy. This went on for almost two years. It was the most confusing time of my life. We wanted to get back together; we didn’t want to get back together; each of us getting hurt over and over and over and over… A painful emotional rollercoaster neither one of us could get off. We couldn’t stop. We just kept asking for more. Like Kevin Bacon in “Animal House.” “Thank you sir, may I have another!?” Except we were paying lawyers.
—Interesting side note; I went through two divorce lawyers. I fired my first one. He was a moron. His name was Eli. The firm was “Claery and Green” Ooops can I say that? Will I get in trouble? Who cares? This is an actual conversation I had with my moron lawyer…
Moron lawyer: Hey, Larry you need to send us those docs we requested
Me: My name is Lenny!! Lenny Schmidt?? How many times do I have to tell you? And I sent the docs twice last month!!!!!
Moron lawyer: Sorry, my bad. We can’t seem to find them, so you are going to have to send them again, Louie.
Me: You are fired moron lawyer—
I went to therapy at least once a week during that first year. I read books like “The Power of Now.” and “The Sedona Method”. A learned I had to detach from the “pain body” and the “ego mind”. I used to lose it over the littlest thing; softball, poker, anything unexpected through me in to a tizzy. I was insane. I was caught up in my expectations. Some things don’t go as planned, when they don’t, accept it. Let it go. Don’t stay stuck in the past. Accept the changes in your life, learn from it, let it go and move forward. Otherwise, you identify yourself with the pain and anger from the past, and that feeds of itself. “BAM!!” Look at that!! I’M ALL ZEN AND SHIT Take that bitches. (Beating my chest and flippin’ you the bird… sideways) That’s the new Lenny I was talking about. Now, I am by no means enlightened, but I am present most of the time and on a much better path. I still have my moments. Old Lenny shows up occasionally. Usually when I play Madden, get on the 405, or the Bears lose.
The big question in my mind after all this personal growth is “Do we try to work it out?” “What’s right for the family?” “What’s right for the kids?” The hardest part is your not really fixing anything. What you’re doing is actually reinventing a relationship. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell in it. A healthy relationship accepts, learns, and moves forward. Can an unhealthy relationship of fifteen years be reinvented? Is it worth the risk? I thought it was. I moved back in after a year. I fully expected to work the whole thing out. We spent the next several weeks revisiting the past instead of reinventing the future. We just couldn’t get past so much stuff. We started fighting about the silliest stuff again. She would ask, “Why can’t we have a car like the “McDougal’s?”. I would answer “Cause I don’t pitch for the Dodgers.” She never liked that answer, and I never liked the McDougal’s. I moved back out nine weeks later.
It’s time for distribution of friends!! Yay!! Not all friends. We still have some mutual friends, mainly at our daughters’ old school. There were so many great people at that school. I honestly miss seeing them every day. Well, Some of them. A divorce is tough on everyone involved, friends included. There was a weird tension at every social event we were both at. Many people pick sides. It’s kind of like picking a softball team, but backwards. My Ex and I are captains, but the team picks us. Quite often you lose friends you never would have expected. Here’s the kicker, no one tells you. Nobody comes up to you and says “I’m on your team, bro” You have to figure it out. Sometimes it takes weeks. You find out you weren’t invited to a party, somebody stops calling you, maybe you get a dirty look. My favorite is just being ignored. Someone walks by and I say “Hey how’s it going?” – Nothing. Not even eye contact. They just keep walking… that person has chosen the other team. (Re; The McDougal’s)
Transition to: Divorce (End)
After 15 years of marriage, the final steps seem so cold. It’s a transaction really, and an expensive one at that. Mine was made even more expensive by two years of “Will we? Won’t We?” Moving out, buying stuff, moving back in, selling stuff, moving back out, buying stuff, numerous dates and gifts with my Ex where I completely over extended myself trying to win her back, hiring the moron lawyer, firing the moron lawyer, hiring a good lawyer, hashing it all out, coming to an agreement that kept the kids in L.A., now all we have to do is sign… WAIT!!! Another lawyer, some more changes, now the Ex wants to leave L.A, more paperwork, more money, more money, more paperwork.. Finally, DONE. At some point, you have to concede. Cut your losses. Lick your wounds. Hold your head up. Insert whatever other cliché you see fit. So, off to Chicago they went.
It has been suggested by some that I pussed out. “We always knew you would puss out”. That I just gave in and let the kids move to away without a fight because I didn’t care. If pussing out means sitting across from my (Good) lawyers accountant handing her credit card after credit card going “Put $1250 on that one. What’s left? Okay, put $3000 on that one. How bout now? Okay, $132.45 on that one. Where we at? How ‘bout I mow your lawn? Perform at your Christmas party? Can I interest you in one of my CD’s?…”, Then, yes, I indeed pussed out.
Transition to: Divorce (Acceptance)
When I started down the road to divorce, a friend told me “You’ll get past it. You’ll be happy when it’s over” I didn’t believe her. I was obsessed with giving my kids a better life. I grew up with an alcoholic father who died when I was 14; my mother/brothers/others in my family normally go 5-10 years without talking to each other. We’re a fun Irish bunch. However, I was determined not repeat the cycle. I wanted to be a family man. A husband, father, soccer dad, you know, the traditional family unit. I barely travelled when I was married. I wanted to be there for my kids. I wanted a “normal” life. Anything different wouldn’t be normal. Divorce would mean I had failed.
But, what is “normal”? A “normal” life is a state of mind. It’s what you “expect” to happen. It’s
all in your head. I thought I could never live alone again, now I love it. There’s a Bears flag hanging in my living room A BEARS FLAG, MAN!!!!!! I watched the Hawks game at 3 am IN STEREO. I read, travel, work-out way more than I ever did when I was married. Go out when I want, stay up if I want, cook onions in my house!! My Ex hated that. Sometimes I cook them for the hell of it. I’m still there for my kids. I’ve spent more time in Chicago over the last year than I have in the last 15 years. We talk almost every day. It usually goes like this, I call, Lily answers “Hi dad, wanna talk to Anna? Love you bye!” Then, she’s gone. I talk to Anna for 30-40 minutes. Lily’s not really an everyday phone person. A couple times a week though, that girl will talk for an hour. I’ll tell you something else, Facetime? To be able to see your kids and talk for hours at a time about their day, showing me art, school work, reading reports, how they re-arranged their room, rehearsing for the play, stuff they bought at the store, SNOW… I’ve spent endless hours watching my two daughters wrestle over who gets the phone first. Whether it’s normal, different, or expected, I know this; it’s not failure, it’s my life.
In a way, accepting the divorce was the easiest thing in the world. It’s amazing the relief of that simple notion can give your life. The release of pressure, that accepting changes you can’t control, and move on. I wasted so much time being miserable about losing the life I expected. I wasn’t able to live again until I learned to live the life I accepted.
That is something I never expected.