Saturday, April 21, 2012

my perspective on my divorce

I was thinking the other day that a lot has gone on in the past seven months of my life. I've moved states, moved back "home," moved in with my parents, started working for the first time in ten years, filed for divorce, and rented my own place (for the first time ever, I might add).
But really, it hasn't been just seven months. It's been over a year.

Because it's March 12 of 2011 that I mark as the day I did the 180 of my life. It's one of those life-defining dates. You know, the day you get married, the day you have kids, the day someone dies, the day you move to such-and-such a place or start such-and-such a job or meet such-and-such a person...

                                         (Sunrise or sunset?)

March 12. The day I ignored "what I was supposed to do" (which is - gasp! - a huge thing for me) and did what I wanted to do. What I needed to do.

It came in the form of confiding something to someone - which in turn meant admitting something to myself - and it opened what a few people in my life may view as a can of worms.

They can view it as they like.
In my opinion I opened a can of, oh, roses or something.

Although I don't particularly care for roses.
So let's call it a can of orchids.

Whatever it was, it was right.

I had to fight against myself for a while, to be OK with what was happening.

Everything in me hated the idea of divorce...

Everything but the part of me that was dying.

Sometimes change is excruciating.
Sometimes it's excruciating because it happened to you and you didn't want it to and everything in you wishes it didn't happen so you didn't have to deal with things you never wanted to deal with.
Sometimes it's excruciating because you're the one making it happen and you aren't really sure it's the best decision for all involved (i.e. my children), and it means a lot of hardship in the short run at the least and the long run at the worst and you really don't know, ten years down the road, if you'll be happier because of your choice.

I don't know.

I don't know ten years down the road how I will feel.

                           (Beautiful contrast.)

I only know how I feel now.

Freed from a lot of things. Too many to go into.

Like Myself.
Without realizing it, I'd traded who I was for who I thought everyone else thought I was supposed to be.
I'm her again.

The nights when the kids are with their dad, it's hard to not think they're supposed to be with me. The apartment is quiet. But I'm learning to live with the solitude.

So many people have been unconditional with it.
Very good, old friends have stood beside me and held me up when I needed it most.
And tons of new friends I've met over the last six months have stepped into "instant friend" mode.

A Little Lost.
It's not always easy finding your own way when you've been told for so many years what to do. The last time I made all of my own decisions was over 14 years ago. There's a freedom in it, sure, but it's also a little unnerving.

A huge burden has been lifted. One I didn't realize was there. One I'm disgusted was there because it was a burden of pretense. I hate pretense. I hate that I allowed it to so creep and seep into my life that I didn't even notice it was there or that I was living a lie so well.

There's a lot to relearn. Going back to work after a full decade of stay-at-home-mom leisure. Forget the "re" - there's a lot to just plain learn. Like providing for myself. And single parenting. And balancing work and play and kids and errands. And funds.
And, and, and...
A million "ands."

You'll probably notice there's a lot of back-and-forth listed above. Good and bad.
I'm not going to sugar-coat it.
Divorce is difficult.
In some ways.
But it gets better.

Even though there are hard days, I feel that the hardest days are behind me.
Emotionally, anyway.
I had weeks and weeks back in Texas where sleep was the only time I was at peace. Every.waking.moment was difficult to get through.
Days where I had to move from hour into hour, because thinking any further ahead than that was impossible. There was just no way. My brain was in one kind of prison. My body was in another.

There is nothing worse than hopelessness.

                             (Are you going up or down?)

But I haven't had a day like that since I left Texas.

There have been a lot of unknowns.
A couple menial jobs that I hated.
(Kim described them as "soul-draining." Apropos statement}.
A lot of learning to take care of things myself (you know, I'd never had to put oil in my van or air in the tires, and those are just the little things).
Some fear of the future.
Will things work out??
Will I be OK?
Will life be OK?

I'm here to say yes. Resoundingly.
Because even if things don't work out exactly how you want them to, it's still better to go through that and be true to who you are than vice versa.
For me anyway.
There's nothing better than being true to who you are.
Nothing better than putting a stop to something that was sucking all the life out
Nothing better than saying no more.

                             (The rainbow or the clouds? - photo courtesy of my friend Kristin).

A pastor friend from high school, when I told him I could stay in my marriage and just survive, responded, "God didn't intend for people to just survive."
A counselor once commented, "There are different kinds of emotional abuse. There's the kind when people yell and scream at someone. Then there's the kind when they ignore them and discount everything they say. Just because you're not yelling and screaming doesn't mean it's not emotional abuse."
A friend from California mentioned, "You just haven't seemed happy the last few times I've seen you."
A former teacher - now friend - commented, "I've noticed in your Facebook posts that you are back to being the old you. The you you were in high school."

It's all part of me saying, "Enough."

There's a lot of good and a lot of bad in making major life-changing choices.
I would be lying if I said it's been easy. It hasn't.
But it HAS all been worth it.
The back-and-forth.
The give-and-take.
The step this way and then the step that way.
A dance that's a combination of joy and pain.

Yes, there's been a lot of wondering if I'm going to end up upright. If the joy is going to end up outweighing the pain.
                                        (Which way is upright, anyway?) 
It has. 
I have ended up upright.
Partly due to luck.
Partly because I am too stubborn not to.
But mostly because I decided before I did it that if I was going to turn my life upside down I was going to embrace every single aspect of it. That means the parts that are uncomfortable and scary and painful just as much as the parts that are lovely and joyful and freeing.

I recently had a long conversation with a friend. He told me he likes how, despite what I'm going through, I'm always upbeat. Although he was being generous with that compliment - because it's not completely true (he's seen me cry and has patiently listened to me vent on a couple occasions) - for the most part he's right. And it's because I made the decision at the outset of all this that I was going to be OK with my choices and the outcome of them. I refused to live in a state of depression or regret or guilt or fear.

And then he paid me one of the best compliments I've ever gotten.

"I like you," he said, "Because you're so present."

And then my oldest brings me this. Think my perspective may be contagious?

That's what the thus-far part of my journey has done for me.

I love this dance.


  1. Beautiful writing (as always) Beth. You have many people sending good energy your way, more than you can possibly imagine! Add my name to those who hear more joy in your voice now...even with the challenges...

    More to catch up on...

  2. Thanks, Lis. Love ya. Let's talk soon.