“It’s Complicated” is what my friend asked about – it has been listed as my relationship status on Facebook for a few months now.
“Yes, it’s complicated,” I said. “Why?” he asked. “Because I’ve been living apart from my husband for 2 ½ years.” “Why?” he asked again with a confused look on his face.
So I told him why, but only after he insisted that it was weird to be married, living apart, for that long, and that it should have ended in the big “D” (divorce) already.
“Yes,” I agreed, “statistically, about 80% of marriages in situations like mine end up in divorce within the first couple or so years.”
“So why are you still not divorced?”
“Because I love him.”
I choked on the next response, because every cell in my body knew how hard it was to spit out the reasons why. “He’s in prison for a crime he did not commit.”
“I’m sorry,” he responded, “You’re a good person; I can’t imagine what that has been like for you.”
“I tried to separate completely a few months ago, but after two months I felt so guilty – like kicking a man when he is already down – and missed him too much.”
“But you need to take care of yourself; what about your needs?”
“I’m very independent and don’t mind being alone… most of the time. But financially it has been extremely hard.”
“You have a life to live, and sometimes it has to be about you.”
“I don’t know… it’s all very confusing at times, and so darn complicated that I don’t know what’s the best thing to do.” I looked down at the floor, pondering my own words.
“So how will it be when y’all are back together?”
“We may be two very different people, yet still the same. We write often, but I cannot afford the phone calls because the company that monitors the prison system phones costs so much.”
“I could only imagine…” His voiced trailed off.
“I’m afraid I made a mistake in some ways, by telling him I will not have any dates in the future, because I’ve been thinking that I should go out and do things with people more often. However, I risk falling in love again if I do that.”
“You’ve got to take care of you at some point in time.”
I stood there quietly, and did not respond.
“Like I said, you’re a good woman. Don’t think I could do it, or expect someone to do it for me.”
I questioned who had more selfishness in this situation… me for considering the alternative to waiting several more years for him to get out on parole, or him for wanting me to wait that long.
“Well, it’s complicated...”
But I knew it did not have to be.