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An Optimist’s Guide to Divorce

来源:纽约时报    2017-11-29 07:24:10

        Beka told me about her self-care plans for the day of her final divorce hearing as we were getting pedicures. Her two daughters sat between us in child-size pedicure chairs, chattering away and paying no attention to our conversation.        做足部护理时,贝卡(Beka)给我讲她最后的离婚听证会那天的保养计划。她的两个女儿坐在我们之间的儿童修脚椅上聊天,完全不理会我们。
        “I scheduled a facial, a massage, and lots of drinks beginning at 2 p.m.,” she said. “I’m going to need this. We know half the attorneys in town, and I bet we’ll see someone in court. Watch it be one of the loudmouths.”        “我从下午两点开始安排美容和按摩,还要大喝一场,”她说。“我需要这个。城里一半的律师我们都认识,我敢打赌我们会在法庭上看到其中一个。搞不好就是嘴不严实的那种。”
        We both laughed and sipped our wine.        我们都笑了,喝了口红酒。
        Beka is my boyfriend’s wife, and the girls are their children. I met her husband, Josh, the summer before, on Mother’s Day, which coincided with their 12th wedding anniversary. Beka had shooed him out of the house to host a mother-daughter tea, and he appeared in the seat next to me at a neighborhood bar.        贝卡是我男朋友的妻子,两个女孩是他俩的孩子。去年夏天的母亲节那天,我遇到了她的丈夫乔希(Josh),当时恰逢他俩的结婚12周年纪念日。贝卡把他赶出家门,自己在家主持一个母女茶会。在我家附近的酒吧里,他出现在我身边的座位上。
        He says it was love at first sight, while I thought he was just another sexy married guy — strictly off limits.        他说他对我一见钟情,而我觉得他只是又一个性感的已婚男人——这种人绝不能碰。
        Over the next two months, as I cycled in and out of tumultuous relationships, he kept popping up. Occasionally we would wave across a coffee shop or exchange a few words on the street. One day he took a seat next to me at another bar, where we joined in the happy-hour conversation about politics and sex.        接下来的两个月里,我接连在几段激烈的感情中进进出出,而他不时冒出来。我们偶尔会在一家咖啡店里打招呼,或者在街头聊两句。有一天,在另一个酒吧里,他来到我身边坐下,我们参与了一场关于政治和性爱的“欢乐时光”谈话。
        When he left to pick up his children, I wasn’t surprised when he said, “Can I see you again?”        准备离开去接孩子时,他说:“我们能再见面吗?”
        I thought: “Just another creep trying to fool around behind his wife’s back.” But I agreed to meet him again, mostly because it was easier than explaining why I wouldn’t and because I was certain I would never have an affair with him.        我想:“又一个背着老婆蠢蠢欲动的恶心家伙。”但我同意再次见面,主要是因为这比解释为什么我不愿见面来得容易,而且我确信自己永远不会和他搞外遇。
        I was wrong about Josh. He wasn’t a creep or even a cheater. He was a man who loved his children more than anything. Josh and Beka were a powerhouse couple — affluent, attractive, highly educated, generous — and the backbone of upper-middle-class respectability developing in my bohemian neighborhood.        我看错了乔希。他不是什么恶心家伙,也不是什么骗子。他是一个最爱自己孩子的人。乔希和贝卡是天生一对,他们富有、迷人、受过高等教育、慷慨大方——在我生活的这个波西米亚街区中,中上阶层的体面人士愈来愈多,他俩正是这个阶层的中坚。
        They had married in their 20s because they got along, had a lot in common (both are lawyers) and the timing was right; many of their friends were tying the knot. Twelve years in, their marriage seemed to be compatible and right. But it was a union of practicality more than passion, and Josh was miserable. He didn’t think he had any right to be miserable, but he was.        他们在二十多岁时结了婚,因为他们相处得很好,有很多共同点(都是律师),而且时机正合适;他们身边的很多朋友都结了婚。十二年来,他们的婚姻似乎是和睦的、正确的。但是,他们的结合是建立在实际的基础上,而不是出于激情,乔希很痛苦。他觉得自己没有权利痛苦,但他确实痛苦。
        I didn’t understand why Josh was willing to break apart everything he had to be with someone like me. I was a struggling academic recovering from a messy divorce, deliberately childless at 40. My devotion to my students and my love for my dogs served as a stand-in for stable and nurturing human relationships.        我不明白为什么乔希愿意离开自己所拥有的一切,只为和我这样的人在一起。我是一个苦苦奋斗的大学教师,正从混乱的离婚中恢复过来,选择到了40岁还没要孩子。在我的生活中,对学生的关注和对家狗们的爱取代了稳定温暖的人际关系。
        After many years of struggle, I recently had learned I had bipolar II disorder, which meant I finally had the right medicine. But I was wrestling with shame as I realized how many of my spectacularly bad decisions had been influenced by mental illness. I had to learn how to trust others and myself, and at times it felt like I would never get there.        经过多年斗争,最近我才发现自己患有乙型双相情绪障碍,这意味着我终于有了正确的药可以服用。但是我意识到,自己有太多糟糕的决定都是因为受到精神疾病的影响,羞愧之情简直令我难以承受。我必须学习如何相信别人和我自己,有时我感觉自己永远都做不到。
        Josh said he liked me simply because he did. “I am married to a wonderful, successful, beautiful woman,” he said. “By any calculation, I should be happy. But I’m not, so I have decided that I am not going to calculate anymore.”        乔什说他喜欢我就是因为喜欢我。“我娶了一个优秀、成功、美丽的女人,”他说。“从任何角度估算,我都应该感到高兴。但我并不高兴,所以我决定不再算了。”
        As we spent more time together, everything about our relationship felt natural. There was no imbalance in our love for one another, and we shared the same values and sense of humor. It turns out that Josh’s refusal to calculate — and my distrust in my ability to calculate — led us to the best decision of our lives: to do what it would take to be together. But that meant inflicting undeserved pain on others.        我们在一起度过了更多时间,两人之间的一切都是自然而然的。我们之间的爱情没有任何不平衡的感觉,我们也拥有同样的价值观和幽默感。事实证明,乔希拒绝估算——以及我对自己估算能力的不信任——导致我们做出了生命中最好的决定:不计任何代价也要在一起。但这意味着给别人造成不应有的痛苦。
        On a sticky Sunday in August, when Josh and Beka’s children were staying with his mother, he asked her for a divorce. At first she refused to believe he was serious. Then she grew so angry that she shook.        在8月一个闷热的星期天,乔希和贝卡的孩子们去奶奶那里了,他跟她提出了离婚。起初,她不相信他是认真的。而后她变得非常生气,浑身颤抖。
        A visibly upset Josh met me after she told him to leave the house. He was ashamed, relieved and almost physically sick with sorrow.        贝卡把乔希赶了家门,他来找我,显然非常难过。他感到羞愧,又觉得如释重负,同时也因为悲伤而几乎觉得身体上生病了。
        “I could handle her anger,” he said. “And I agreed with everything she said. It’s unthinkable for me to dismantle all we’ve built. But I fell apart when she started to cry. She put her head on my chest while she cried. I’ve never felt so horrible in my life.”        “我可以应对她的愤怒,”他说。“我同意她说的一切。毁掉我们建立起来的一切对我来说是无法想像的。但她一哭,我就崩溃了。她把头靠在我胸口上哭。我从来没觉得这么难受过。”
        About a month later, he told Beka about me. This time, her anger was not tinged by sorrow; she was furious. After hours of shouting, however, she began to feel better than she had since Josh first mentioned divorce.        大约一个月后,他告诉了贝卡我的事。这一次,她的愤怒并没有因为悲伤而减轻,她十分愤怒。不过,经过几个小时的喊叫之后,她开始觉得比乔希第一次提出离婚时好一些了。
        “It makes more sense for the divorce to be about another woman,” he said. “Many of our friends are going through divorces for the same reason. And I’ll admit, she felt a lot better when I told her you’re four years older than she is. She assumed you would be about 25.”        “因为第三者而离婚更说得过去,”他说。“我们的很多朋友都是因为同样的原因离婚的。我必须承认,当我告诉她你比她大四岁时,她感觉好多了。她以为你只有25岁左右。”
        Then Beka surprised us both. Through Josh, she invited me to dinner.        然后,贝卡做了一件让我们俩都感到意外的事。她通过乔希邀请我共进晚餐。
        “What?” I said. “Seriously? How is that going to work?” I didn’t see how a dinner could be pulled off without the whole thing erupting in open conflict or stalling into awkward silence. But, again, I was wrong.        “什么?”我说,“不会吧?那怎么行呢?”我觉得我们的晚餐一定会演变成公开冲突,或者陷入尴尬的沉默。但是,我又错了。
        “I had to meet you,” Beka said as she opened the door. “Josh wants you to meet our girls, but I need to get to know you first.”        “我必须跟你见面,”贝卡开门时说。“乔希想让你见见我们的女儿们,但我得先了解你。”
        Her smile seemed genuine, her eyes kind. She was small and beautiful, somehow elegant in casual shorts. Although I am short as well, I felt huge and ungainly next to her.        她的微笑似乎是真诚的,她的眼神是友好的。她娇小美丽,穿着休闲短裤依然透着几分优雅。虽然我也很矮,但在她身边,我觉得自己高大笨拙。
        Josh was practically disabled by anxiety during that three-hour dinner. As Beka and I got to know each other, he drank nonstop. But Beka made sure I felt totally at ease. Our conversation ranged from trivial matters and uproarious stories about neighborhood matters to serious acknowledgment of our unusual situation.        在那三个小时的晚餐中,乔希因为焦虑而六神无主。在我和贝卡了解彼此时,他不停地喝酒。但贝卡确保我完全放松。我们既谈到琐碎的小事和滑稽的邻里故事,也严肃地承认我们面临的情况很特殊。
        After we all had hugged good night, I thought, “This won’t last.” I braced myself for the wrath to come, but it never materialized. Instead, Beka introduced me to their adorable children, and my immediate bond with them made me silently rejoice that I didn’t have children of my own. It was as if I had been saving my maternal love for Rose and Alice, who were then 7 and 3.        在我们拥抱、互道晚安后,我心想:“这不会持续太久。”我等着愤怒到来,但它一直没有出现。相反,贝卡把我介绍给了他们可爱的孩子,我和她们立刻产生了感情,这让我暗自庆幸自己没生孩子。好像我把母爱都留给了罗丝(Rose)和爱丽丝(Alice),当时她们分别7岁和3岁。
        One day they brought tears to my eyes when, after a raucous game of me holding them upside down and tickling them, we snuggled on the couch to watch a movie.        有一天,她们让我热泪盈眶。我抱着她们翻跟头,挠痒痒。热闹的游戏之后,我们依偎在沙发上看电影。
        “I love you,” Rose whispered. “I’m so glad you’re part of my family.”        “我爱你,”罗丝小声说,“我很高兴你是我们家庭的一员。”
        Beka was the one who worked the hardest to make me part of the family. She invited me to birthday parties and smoothed the socially turbulent waters by introducing me to friends who had been indignant on her behalf. Afterward, we giggled at the shocked faces people made when they met me.        贝卡是那个最努力让我成为这个家庭一员的人。她邀请我参加生日聚会,把我介绍给那些为她感到不平的朋友们,理顺混乱的社交关系。后来,回想起人们见到我时震惊的脸庞,我们会忍不住咯咯大笑。
        When Josh moved out of their house into a duplex, we had family dinners and celebrated holidays together to ease the transition for the girls. While friends and family shook their heads in bafflement, we forged our relationship based on mutual respect, empathy and an overpowering love for those two beautiful children.        乔希从他们的房子里搬出来,搬到了一个复式公寓里。我们共进家庭晚餐,一起庆祝节日,帮助两个孩子平稳过渡。朋友和家人都困惑地摇头,而我们基于相互尊重、同理心以及对那两个漂亮孩子强烈的爱,彼此建立了友谊。
        The one thing I don’t know, and may never know, is whether our bond is genuine affection on Beka’s part or the result of her sheer will to make this work, to avoid falling prey to bitterness, to refuse to be a victim.        我现在不知道、而且可能永远也不会知道的是,贝卡跟我做朋友是真的因为喜欢我,还是仅仅为了能让这种局面维持下去,避免成为痛苦的牺牲品,拒绝成为受害者。
        It isn’t my place to ask such a thing, and ultimately it doesn’t matter.        我没资格问这个问题,它最终也变得无关紧要。
        I am in awe of the grace and maturity she has displayed throughout what I suspect is the most traumatic event of her life. She even liked this essay, telling me after reading it: “I’m so glad you get it. I wish more divorces ended up like this. It’s better for the kids and the parents.”        我很敬佩她在这件可能是一生中最痛苦的事情中所表现出来的优雅和成熟。她甚至很喜欢这篇文章,读完后对我说:“我很高兴你能明白。我希望更多的离婚能有这样的结局。这对孩子和父母都好。”
        I have silently mourned with her, though I suspect she wouldn’t appreciate that. She never breathes a word of anger or resentment to her children, and they have never reproached their father or me for the immeasurable disruption we have caused to their lives. She and Josh and I have done everything we can to shield them from the anger and damage so common in divorce.        我默默地为她感到伤心,尽管我觉得她并不会为此感激我。她从来没向孩子们表达过愤怒或怨恨,孩子们也从来没有因为我和她们的父亲对她们的生活造成的不可估量的破坏责怪我们。她、乔希和我竭尽全力,保护她们免受离婚通常会带来的愤怒和伤害。
        Every now and again when I have thanked Beka for an invitation to a family event or gone out to get medicine for a sick child in the middle of the night, she has texted me words of gratitude that I treasured even while feeling I didn’t deserve them.        每当我感谢贝卡邀请我参加家庭活动,或者我在深夜里为生病的孩子买药时,她总是给我发短信表示感激,我很珍惜那些话,尽管我觉得自己不值得感激。
        “The girls adore you,” she wrote. “And you truly treat them like they’re your own. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”        “两个小姑娘都很喜欢你,”她写道,“你真的待她们像亲生女儿一样。你不知道这对我有多么重要。”
        And I can’t tell her how much this family we all have forged means to me.        她也不知道,我们共同组建的这个家对我来说多么重要。

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