Three years ago nearly today, my marriage was over.
I struggle to find new words, today, to address the journey. The old ones will have to suffice:
“March 4, 2008: This loss is something different than a death. It’s harder in some ways, as it is an ongoing one requiring much bravery, and the willingness to accept change, but certainly preferable to a death, for the most obvious of reasons.
My husband and I are going our separate ways. Compassion, kindness and support are very much needed by us—all four of us—at this time…I am absolutely humbled by this as it unfolds. This is not where I thought I would be at 37, not at all. Who wishes for this? This is The Sort of Thing That Happens to Other People. Funny, no? How we each have that list in mind, how we cling to that list, our sweaty, smeared, perma-clutched “no way would I ever let that happen to me” points.
And yet there are lessons underway: I am realizing how little I actually know, and how much I have to learn. I realize that no one, no one at all, can possibly guess at the life of another—there is simply too much, particularly in a shared life, for outside guesswork to even come close to identifying the truth of a relationship. No one is right, exactly. No one is wrong, exactly. There are simply needs, and when they go unmet, there is profound unhappiness, and no room for judgment. Now there’s just the challenge of making things right—at least, as right as they can be after such a decision has been made.
I ask please for kindness and restraint in your comments. I may not say very much at all. But it feels wrong to say nothing to you kind souls of what is such an enormous shift in our life here. Terra firma has given way to precarious terrain. This is a painful, scary time requiring especially delicate navigation for the beautiful four- and six-year-old forever-Valentines we have given to each other. Thank God for our forever-Valentines, as beautiful and heart-stopping as Valentines can be.
If only there were a roadmap here. My first lesson has been learning that courage is, indeed, not the absence of fear, but rather the ungainly tromping through that fear, shaking and quaking all the while, smacking at mosquitos and wondering what the hell kind of swamp you’ve gotten your fool self into. My compass tells me I’m headed the right way, but damn, there are days you can’t help but wish your inner compass were less reliable.”
I lost my compass for a while there, somewhere in the middle of the last three years. I’ve found it again and am chipping off the dried mud.
I can’t say that life is always better, but sometimes it is. Maybe that’s enough.
My forever-Valentines are now 7 and 9, and they have regained their footing too. It’s not something they asked for, not something they wanted. But they are, for the most part, clear-eyed, bright-eyed, untroubled. Strong, sturdy girls, who never doubt that they have two parents who love them very much.
Maybe that’s enough, too.