Yet the joy of the moment was mitigated by a painful uncertainty hanging over my personal life. My wife of seven years had packed her things from our New York home and had moved back to Los Angeles a few weeks earlier. We talked in the ensuing weeks with words that vacillated between animosity and a seemingly perfunctory hope of reconciliation.
Even as I faced the reality that we had grown apart, I also believed that our relationship might be salvaged. Less than a month before our separation I found my wife distressed over a minor health problem. Instinctively, I put my arms around her and tried to assure her that everything would be all right. No matter what she faced, I would be there for her. My desire to care for her was reflexive and immediate. I had been with this woman for over ten years. She was my wife, my friend and the mother of my only child and I wanted to make her troubles go away. Four weeks later she was gone.
Even though all of these thoughts swirled in my head as I stood on East 53rd Street, preparing to roll the camera for our first shot of the day, I tried to focus on the job at hand. Suddenly, a man I assumed was an extra walked up to me, smiling, and asked if I was Alec Baldwin. I smiled back and said yes.
His whole demeanor then changed as he pressed an envelope against my chest. "This is for you," he said. "Oh, yeah," he added as he walked away, "I'm a big fan of your work."
I opened the envelope filled with legal documents. Although I had asked my wife to delay any legal action until after the film shoot was over, she had served me with formal separation papers right there on the set of the movie. Our marriage was officially over.
I can honestly say that a part of me never saw it coming. Although I knew I was unhappy and I was certain that my wife was as well, talking about divorce is one thing, actually carrying it out is quite another. Even when I had contemplated the dissolution of my marriage over the past several months, I still believed we had something worth fighting for.
I found it hard to believe that this was the end. I also found it equally hard to believe that my ex-wife would choose to dive back into the civil court system that only a few short years earlier had nearly destroyed her.
The deep feelings of love that swept you into a marriage don't die overnight. The process is often slow and, typically, painful. Understanding how these feelings died can be as painful as the loss itself. When relationships end, some people naturally reflect upon what led them to that point. Others seek to affix blame. Therefore, some find it necessary to renounce their feelings and therefore nullify everything that came before.
That is when you hear people say, "I never loved her." Or, "I never really cared for him." This nullification is nothing but a lie some people tell themselves. Litigants will say in open court that "My husband was Saddam Hussein," to which I once heard a judge reply, "Well then, why did you marry Saddam Hussein?"
These litigants and their attorneys find it convenient to burn the couple's past down to the ground and seek to paint a picture of their ex-spouse that is wildly distorted. Hopefully, a judge will see through this. I was incapable of denying what I had once felt. Therefore, I looked back in an attempt to understand what attracted me to my ex-wife in the beginning and how our relationship failed.