Ever since my marriage ended, I have been trying to find a way to put words to it.
In the beginning I said nothing. It was safer that way. I felt strongly that I needed to step back and give myself time to let everything settle before I would be capable of approaching the subject with grace. I am grateful I had the wisdom to make that decision.
I must have written and rewritten this a dozen times as the days and weeks unfolded. It was the best kind of therapy I could think of. I have always used my words as both sword and shield, and I know the value they hold – it is something I’ve always felt certain of, even when I have questioned everything else. I find a lot of strength here in the space between me and the way I use this language, the way it can bring so much of what is inside of me, out.
For a while though, I found myself beyond words. I have never before been brought to my knees like this. For a long time sleep was virtually nonexistent- I was utterly exhausted but I couldn’t turn my mind off enough to let go. My appetite disappeared and I lost a ton of weight I couldn’t afford to lose; crying in front of strangers suddenly became a part of my daily life.
(And by the way, from my position in this very new, very humbling vantage point, let me impart to you this one general piece of advice: The next time you see a dead-eyed woman in a crowded mall food court, struggling to carry a screaming toddler who is doing her best to arch her way out of the puppy costume she has refused to take off for a week straight, both of them just crying and crying like the world is ending- I mean give the lady a hand, would you? Give her a smile or some whiskey- or at the very least, a bite of your soft pretzel)
From the first time I felt able to really sit down to write, however, and each time I sat down again after that, it began felt a little bit different. Each time I wrote I shed something unnecessary and gave new words in their place. The first versions read a lot like I did at the time – jagged, broken, abrupt. It didn’t sound like me. I didn’t feel like me. Writing helped carry me through each day, it was a way of making sense of the constantly shifting emotions that threatened to engulf me. It kept my head above water, and my mind clear.
I have immense amounts of anxiety talking about this situation here. It is deeply personal and the thought of it being out there in the world means it is real. At this point however, I am leaning on all of the supports I have. This space and my writing is a big one, and I really need to be able to get back to that.
My marriage ended in an incredibly ugly way. I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to go into details – some things are better left unsaid. There isn’t much to be gained by trying to understand something that is incomprehensible. I have decided that my energy is better spent in finding a way to heal and move on, rather than trying in vain to find reason where none exists.
So, the dual processes of moving forward and remaining open have become my focus. I think an experience like this is powerful enough that it can close you or it can open you, and I won’t allow myself to be closed by it. I don’t want to escape it, outrun it, deny it, or distract myself from it. I want to walk right through it instead, learning from every sensation of these coals under my feet, no matter how painful.
What happened was beyond my control, but the way I choose to react, grow, and move forward as a result is not. Saying it has been hard doesn’t begin to describe it, but the good I have seen in this far outweighs the bad.
I have drawn on reserves of strength that I never realized I possessed, because up until late November I had been fortunate enough that I never needed to reach for them. I have been immersed in impossible amounts of love as those close to me have gathered me up and gotten me through, and I literally would not have made it to today without them. I have always had a deep love and appreciation for my friends and family, but I’ve never needed them as desperately as I have lately. They have come through for me in every way imaginable, and I know that I am lucky to have them.
In every part of this process I have had to confront the core of who I am as a person – everything was so raw that there wasn’t much room for artifice. I have seen how I react when I am deeply wounded, and who I become when I am consumed with hurt and anger. I have witnessed how I choose to act when no one is watching, and seen the choices I make when shit gets tough.
I am proud of myself. I am proud of how I have come through this, and the way I have chosen to carry myself. These past few months have been the hardest of my entire life, and I know that it will continue to be hard in many different ways in the months and years to come but right now, strangely, I am finding it impossible to feel anything but grateful.
I never would have chosen this, but I am here now and I can’t change that. And although I know that this feeling of calm will likely come and go, right now I simply want to use it to work through everything I need to, and move on. I will do my best to learn the lessons that this experience can teach me, and then do my best to let it go.
It has been hard to figure out how to approach this situation, especially in such a public way. This is very new to me and I am sure I will make mistakes, but the most important part of this is that Olive has two parents that love her more than anything in the world. Nothing about that has changed, or ever will.
Last summer I read about something called Kintsukuroi, which is a Japanese tradition of repairing broken pottery by lacing the shattered lines with gold. At its heart is the idea that something can become stronger and more beautiful for having been broken.
I have returned to this idea over and over again in the last few months and it has become something of a meditation for me. It is what comes to mind as I wade through these shifting emotions, begin to search for the good in the situation, and start figuring out how to build a new life.
I have been thinking a lot about how to gracefully incorporate failure, brokenness, and loss into something stronger. How to let this wound build me, teach me, and knit me together instead of leaving me shattered. I think about whether or not I can eventually work myself around to forgiving those who did the breaking – as impossible as that seems right now.
Over and over again I’ve rolled this concept around in my mind, and felt the words on my tongue, smooth as stones. I remind myself that just two months ago every single aspect of this seemed utterly unbearable, but I have borne it. Every bit.
I have no doubt that I will come through this whole, and perhaps find a way to become better for it.
Every piece of me is being put back together, and slowly laced with gold.
Every part of me is being made beautiful, instead of broken.