Wrestling with Words

One of the most unexpected things about being divorced is how clumsy my tongue has become.

I find certain words or phrases trip me up; words like “ex” or “divorced.” A friend of mine says he keeps stumbling over pronouns; struggling with me instead of we and mine instead of ours.

At one time, my career included a stint as an on-air news reporter for a local radio station. Being a reporter – asking questions, gathering information, writing stories — all felt familiar. But the on-air part was unlike anything I had ever done. Even having much experience with public speaking did not prepare me for this new game.

When you are reading live for 3 to 5 minutes in a stretch, it is as though your mouth and tongue become their own beings. Some days they work together smoothly and on others, they fight each other. At times, I felt like my tongue was an actual stumbling block and the words had to struggle to get around it.

The sensation is much the same now as I try to use these new words in my life to refer to the man who once was my partner and friend. Now, when I try to explain who my daughters will be spending their afternoon with there is a definite pause in the sentence, “oh, that’s my … ex-husband.”

I suspect it is not only a physical pause, but also an emotional one. That moment is when once again my heart and soul are reminded of the tidal wave that has hit my life and turned everything upside down. It is the remnants of those moments that plagued me for months when I could not speak or move, muted and paralyzed by grief and pain.

So, if that is the case, if it is simply waning hurt, then I think a simple sentence stumble or breathless pause is okay. It means I am healing and it means that one day, I can hope that my tongue will again be nimble and my words will flow like water.


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    Interesting observations. I remember how odd (and pleasant?) it was in the months after marrying to use the words husband and we, but changing back to “me” not to mention finding neutral terms post-divorce is another story. Especially if there are children.

    I still find “the ex” to be perfectly workable – it is indifferent and very distanced, which is what I like about it. But with children, I find it’s easier to say your dad when speaking to them, or some variant, depending on context, when speaking to others.

    We do remain a “we” culture though, particularly in some environments, where being an I or a me raises an eyebrow.

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