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October 12, 2012

We realized the other day that we never talked about why we named this blog “When The Flames Go Up,” and that you might be interested in that. So here’s the story:

We decided to write a blog together with a lot of trepidation. We’d written into our separation agreement that neither of us was allowed to talk about the other in any public forum. Which was, in hindsight, a little paranoid, but there had been a rash of divorcing couples who had done things like post each others’ profiles online and make fun of them, and all kinds of stuff that was the online equivalent of taking a Louisville slugger to both headlights.

The problem, of course, is that I write an advice blog, and the whole focus of it is to give data points so people know a) they’re normal, and b) they could try something someone else has done and see if it works for them. So I’d been getting a lot of questions about things ranging from “How did you know?” to “How does your custody arrangement work?” to “Tell me our kids won’t be fucked up forever.” And not being able to give any of my own data points was killing me, because I felt like I was not being loyal to my readers when they needed me.

And it was beginning to feel like people thought something Really Bad had happened that we were hiding on purpose, and we didn’t want to have to keep assuring people that we weren’t trying to kill each other and they could still be friends with both of us.

So we decided to do the blog. And kind of circled around each other warily. We agreed that we’d alternate posts. And that we’d each show the other our posts before we posted them. (No absolute veto power, but we were trying to balance honesty with taking the high road.) And that if we got media requests we’d only do them together. And then we had to come up with a name.

It was all so predictable. I suggested things like “A Blog About Co-Parenting” and “It Could Suck More.” LOD suggested things like “Pooping In The Enameled Tub” and “An Obscure Reference No One Will Get.” We each rolled our eyes and thought about how glad we were not to be married to each other anymore and how in the hell was this blog going to work?

And then “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds rolled through my Pandora station. The whole song is about having it all and then having it all go away, and what do you do?

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?

And I realized that LOD and I were living the worst case scenario. We were married and we were a family, and then things went wrong. It all cracked up, and the love burned down.

And the blog was about what we were doing about that, living here in the worst-case scenario.

So I suggested “When The Flames Go Up” to LOD, and he got it immediately.

And that was the last time writing this blog was easy. But it’s worth it. Because who else gets to a) realize they’re living the worst-case scenario, and b) make something out of that that’s greater than the scenario suggests? I feel lucky in a lot of ways, but especially in being able to write about this together but separately. Thanks for reading.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Alyce permalink
    October 12, 2012 4:14 pm

    Thanks for explaining it; I have always wondered.

  2. October 12, 2012 4:26 pm

    I commend you two for what you are doing. My ex and I are on good terms; however, we both update our son’s CaringBridge site and it’s been a bit of a nightmare. We didn’t set any ground rules, and so he’ll do thinks like update it FOR me – i.e. go on what he’s heard through our son to write about what happened at our house. It drives me insane. So many of the issues that were present in our marriage and made it impossible for us to go on are still there. So, once again, I’ve withdrawn to get away from him…

    We’re received plenty of compliments on how well we co-parent but we are nowhere near where the two of you are with the meetings and such. Your boys are lucky!

  3. October 12, 2012 4:50 pm

    I’m in that exact same spot right now (except we would never write a joint blog). And I have always wondered about the name because it made more sense as “when the flames go out” – now I get it. And now I have a worm in my ear for the rest of the day. I’ll be back though. I think this will be good for me.

  4. Jenn permalink
    October 12, 2012 5:01 pm

    I am in no way suggesting that your pain in all the things and the really tough times you both/all have had are trivial but “worst case scenario” is not what comes to mind reading how thoughtfully and caringly you have each approached things for your kids.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 12, 2012 5:07 pm

      Jenn, it doesn’t feel very worst-case scenario to me, either, now. But it was the scariest thing I could think of for a long time.

    • October 12, 2012 6:44 pm

      When you’re in the weeds, you have no idea how worst-case your scenario can get. You know you’re falling down the hole, but you have no idea how deep it goes. You also know your STBX is just as miserable and unhinged as you are, so you have no idea what behavior will come of it.

      I knew I’d seen all manner of horrendous divorce outcomes and had no idea whether that would be me.

      And that’s really the most amazingly unanticipated outcome of our divorce. It’s helped me become as happy as I’ve ever been, because I wake up most days feeling grateful.

  5. Alicia permalink
    October 12, 2012 6:21 pm

    It could suck more is pretty awesome, just like both of you.

  6. October 12, 2012 9:22 pm

    Thanks for explaining. I never knew the exact reference and indeed, when you are living it, it is the the worst in the world and yet, later on…you realize it’s not, which doesn’t change the initial impression while you’re living it. My first divorce, which I really hope is my last, felt like the worst thing in the world and yet…it turned out not to be. If this marriage fell apart, which sometimes seems like it might (over 24 years – it has felt like that here and there) it’s the worst thing in the world…but…I would survive and so would he. Three people within 3 doors of us are getting divorces…it’s scary to live in the middle of that. Thanks for writing and sharing what both of you have. It helps people and I have referred people to your blog.

  7. October 12, 2012 10:30 pm

    all i know is i really like you guys … a lot. i’m learning how to survive after the ‘d’. my situation is entirely different from yours (i’m making some assumptions that i feel are safe) but i appreciate what you’ve done together to create a safe environment for your kids.

  8. Anne permalink
    October 12, 2012 10:55 pm

    I love that song! I always knew in the back of my head that I knew what you were referencing, but never made the mental effort to dredge up those lyrics. Thanks for sharing the story.

  9. analyticsman permalink
    October 13, 2012 7:05 am

    I love Simple Minds. It has been too long since I last listened to them. Thanks for the reminder.

    as for the worst scenario reference…I get it. A couple of years ago my parents asked me what I needed for Christmas. I thought about it. I had everything I needed and wanted in life. I had a great job, had a beautiful and caring wife, two great kids, a loving beagle, great friends, great neighbors, decent cars, a perfect home, great activities and shopping nearby and our health. I recognized how good I had it. Best case scenario. Last year around this time, my wife tells me she wants a divorce. Yesterday, we saw a mediator. Our friends are taking sides. We are looking at putting the house up for sale. I’m constantly stressed out. I’m looking at seeing my kids 50% of the time. Worst case scenario.

    Just found your blog in the last week and trying to play catch up. Your relationship seems like an inspiration/aspiration. My
    wife and I don’t fight or argue anymore.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 13, 2012 12:46 pm

      You’re only a year into it and you don’t fight or argue anymore? That astounds me. LOD and I still fight and argue. To be fair, the tenor of those arguments has changed completely, and there are only one or two things that are serious.

      I wonder if that would be a funny post, now that I think about it, the things we argue about now.

  10. October 13, 2012 1:46 pm

    I’m stealing “An Obscure Reference No One Will Get” for my blog about Malebranchean occasionalism.

  11. analyticsman permalink
    October 13, 2012 3:03 pm

    Moxie, the only argument we have seems to be over whether or not to get a divorce. I love her, but she said she fell out of love with me. We only went to 4 couples therapy sessions in the past year and we haven’t tried a seperation. The mediation sessions are going well, lots of laughter, agreement and we keep touching each other and hugging after the sessions.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 13, 2012 9:10 pm


      • askmoxie permalink*
        October 13, 2012 9:42 pm

        And by “Wow” I mean “I have a lot of thoughts on that, but don’t want to tell you what they are unsolicited.”

  12. tanjawoodscolvin permalink
    November 7, 2012 12:07 pm

    I love what our family coach said, “you are not divorce from each other but divorced to each other for life because of the children.” It must have been in the fine print of the hospital release form we signed when we took our first child home.

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