painting by Alyssa Monk


There aren’t any rules for this place. It’s a footless, toothless sort of limbo.

Every day is a bizarre paradox where I feel myself shrinking and growing in equal measure.

I always wondered, before, what it took for two people to get here. Now I know. And more than that, I am becoming intimately acquainted with how it feels. Inside and out. Every sharp corner, rusty edge, and silver lining.

Divorce feels like an abrupt honing. A shearing off of dead parts, a shredding of scar tissue. A strange scorched-earth world where words from a mouth you once knew intimately come carefully weighed, and then casually lobbed like grenades.

Some days proceed as normal, and others I look up to find myself standing here knee-deep in the smoldering rubble of my former life and I don’t understand how I am still breathing. To be honest, I don’t know how to write about this. I’m having trouble figuring it out.

There are so many happy moments, moments of lightness and joy,  and I’m trying to draw on those, but the core of this is deeply uncomfortable. I don’t know what I can write about. The truth is too sharply-edged, the logistics are a mess, the day-to-day is too personal. I can’t answer the questions you are asking me in comments and emails, many of them are questions I am looking for answers to myself. I’m edging around this story because I’m still living it, so I speak in vague metaphors when I would like to simply name names and paint a clearer picture. I feel bound and gagged by a sense of propriety.

I contradict myself. It has been, and continues to be, incredibly brutal, but also one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wouldn’t go back for a second.

Perhaps learning to simultaneously hold two deeply contradictory ideas is the lesson here. I feel stronger than I have ever been, physically and emotionally. I’ve been stripped down to bare bones, literally, and now I have my head down working my hardest to rebuild myself stronger. But I’m also struggling to gain weight and keep it on, to harness my thoughts, to get a handle on these emotions that run roughshod over me. I feel freer than I have in years, yet some aspects of my life are more out of my control than ever. I am tentative and unsure of myself, even as I feel myself drawing up with a sense of confident command that I have never felt before.

It takes some doing to adjust to this new rhythm of push and pull. Inhale and exhale. Being exhausted but unable to sleep. Feeling this new lean strength as I stretch and pull myself up, letting myself sink into the softness as I fall.

So, this is what divorce looks like, in case you were wondering. I always did.

It’s a tangle of words at 2 am. Writing because it’s the best thing I know how to do. New glasses casting everything in a clearer light. A still house, sleeping child, and full heart.

Head above the water, breathing it all in, my lungs too full to let me sink.


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  • Reply Valerah March 5, 2015 at 6:40 AM

    beautifully put. keep swimming, girl.

  • Reply Francesca March 5, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    You have a beautiful way with words, a true poet. X

  • Reply Romina March 5, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    continued strength your way, Maddie. xo

  • Reply Emily Stapley March 5, 2015 at 2:08 PM

    Yeah, that was absolutely beautiful prose. You are a talented writer, a wonderful mother and a strong courageous woman. Keep up your good (hard) work. We’re here cheering you on 🙂

  • Reply Sarcastically Katie March 5, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    This was starkly beautiful. You are so strong.

  • Reply ericast1 March 6, 2015 at 11:17 PM

    Blessings and love…… Also I have weight issues (can never keep it on) and the acupuncture school near me tells me that eating meat more frequently is one of the best ways to keep weight on. On my good eating weeks I roast a whole chicken, have leftovers for a bit and turn the bones into broth. I put a lemon in the chicken butt and the chicken usually turns out moist and yummy; also a good way to keep the house warm!

  • Reply Michelle March 7, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    As far as we’re concerned, you have all the time you need Madeleine. Talk to us if it seems to help, don’t if you can’t or don’t want to – you and Olive are the only ones you should be worrying about. Sending best wishes your way – so sorry you are going through this but your amazing, positive attitude and your beautiful daughter will help get you through. xx

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