Thursday, December 27, 2012
I've decided it's time to start talkin' again, ya'll.
You can find me more consistently here: http://onewildandpreciousmelis
2012 is ending.
Frankly, I could not possibly be more pleased.
But that’s not entirely fair. 2012 came with its share of stresses and heartaches, yes. But it came with a lot of growth and big, big change. The kind of change that comes with an instant sense of relief (and terror, which gradually gets more difficult to ignore), and a deep inner knowing that you’re doing The Right Thing.
2012 was the year of my Divorce. Capital “D” intentional. It was kind of a big deal.
I was married for 11 years to my best friend. I’m 33. So, that was a third of my life. We started dating when I was 16 ½. So, that was half my life.
We don’t have a particularly remarkable story. This, folks, is NOT the stuff movies are made from. We didn’t fight every day—not even most days. No one was unfaithful (although he worked pretty hard to keep that story going in an apparent—and successful—effort to torture both of us). No one did anything that was particularly, noticeably dealbreakerish. I just could no longer ignore the incessant screaming in my head that something was wrong. It’s not that I was so miserably unhappy in my marriage (a fact I would have to remind my mother of nearly daily for the first months after my separation, which she would cope with by saying, “Well, I can’t watch any of my kids carry on in a miserable marriage.”). It was just that I was blatantly aware that I wasn’t happy either—and I knew that I wanted to be.
Indulge me while I act stereotypically 33 for a hot minute and say that the first time I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I bawled hysterically. Like hundreds of thousands of other thirtysomething women, I saw so much of myself in what she wrote. “Yes, yes, YES, THIS,” to every paragraph on the first thirty pages. Gilbert says, “The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland” (pg. 12). It resonated in my bones. Two years after reading the book, eleven years after saying “I do,” after six years of marriage counseling, four years of personal counseling, 140 pounds of weight loss (now that, friends, is a story for another day), and at least three years of knowing leaving was more than likely The Right Thing to do—I left.
And imagine my surprise and delight to find that my entire life, physical, mental, and emotional health collapsed in a heap around me.
Gilbert says, “The many reasons I did not want to be this man’s wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here…there are always two figures in a marriage, after all—two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires, limitations…I also will not discuss here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him, and why I had married him and why I was unable to imagine life without him…Let it be sufficient to say that on this night he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure” (p. 12).
I can’t promise the same tight-lipped intentions, though I think they are noble and essential to Gilbert’s telling of her own story. I am convinced that no one who has been there before you will ever tell you just how bad things will get when you go through your own divorce. There is a chance your entire life will, for a period of time, be completely unrecognizable to you. You will wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night—or day. You will lose things you never imagined you’d lose (ranging from material possessions to, oh, you know, that piddley thing called SELF WORTH). And you will find things out about yourself—and your former partner—you wouldn’t have believed had the prediction come from the lips of Mother Theresa herself. And you may—just may—learn how to ask for and accept help, pray, cry, and survive along the way.
My own divorce has been a little like an earthquake—with seemingly endless aftershocks. Around me is rubble, fragments of a life I once chose and invested myself whole-heartedly in, some pieces slightly recognizable, others only dust. Even the basic structural integrity is cracked and compromised. 2012—the year of my divorcequake—is coming to a close. In 2013, I have a lot of rebuilding to do. I tried—like many people before me—to just opt out of the process. Leave the rubble, skip the clean-up. It doesn’t work that way. And I owe it to myself—the self who had the courage to leave, the self who had the courage to change her life three years ago by gaining physical and emotional health, the self who used to play with her dolls and run freely through the woods on a windy day, and especially to the self I have the potential to be in the future—to pick up a shovel and get to work.
Welcome inside. Here is your complimentary hard hat.