Thursday, May 28, 2015

"I don't want a baby", and other lies I tell every day.

This weekend I was in California. Sassy McLadyBoots has beat all odds and found true love on eHarmony. This weekend was her wedding, and it was perfect. If I could wish a perfect wedding for one person in my life, it would be Sassy McLadyBoots, and now she has it. I am a happy camper.

Long after she and her new Mr. were off on their honeymoon cruise I was sitting in Sunday School with an old friend when the teacher, surprisingly (I'm sorry, but it's true) asked a really fantastic question. "How can we make sure that people who are struggling feel welcome at church?" to which my friend bravely offered this comment:

"In the twelve step program we learn something really important. We learn to lead with our weakness. It makes everything we say after that more accessible for those we speak with and takes the conversation to a very genuine, vulnerable place. I think we need to lead with our weakness more when we are in church, rather than pretend that we have it all together."

And, he's right. Not only in church, but anywhere heartfelt progress is to be made. For this reason, today I'm going to lead with this: I don't know what to do.

When I went through my divorce I made the decision to purge my life of any and all photos of The Mr. That's probably why it really took me off guard today when I discovered one. I'm graduating and looking for work and so went about updating my old profile on a nanny website. The photo is from our engagement shoot. It's of both of us standing in my old kitchen. He's wearing an apron and I'm holding a cookbook and we're doing our damnedest to look domestic, but really we're just on the verge of bursting out into belly laughs and, I'm just going to say it, we're adorable. Not only are we adorable, but that photo is a reminder for me.

These days, when I think about The Mr. I do not think about the happy times. One reason is that they were so incredibly short lived, but also, I don't want to give myself any reason to dwell in that time in my life. I tell myself stories like, how could I ever have been so stupid? The way we were mismatched is so incredibly obvious. I was an idiot not to notice it in the first place. Or, He was always terrible. I was just desperate or love drunk or both. I should have known from the beginning that things would end the way they did. But all that is really not true.

The truth is, when The Mr. was great, he was really great. He was funny, attentive, invested, romantic, charming and present. He was a dedicated boyfriend and our chemistry was fantastic. More than that though, he had this quality about him. It was this...openness to new things, this desire to work hard, to be good, to reach and grow. I lie to myself sometimes and say he was always the way I remember him at the end of our relationship, but that's all it is--a lie. There was a time when he was great, and I was reminded of that in this unexpected photo today.

So here's where the - not knowing what to do - part comes in. I trusted The Mr. with all my heart and soul. I invested everything in him. I held nothing back, no hour of time, no moment of energy, no resource was held on reserve in some secret corner for me, and that trust, that investment, that endeavor was shattered in such a way that nothing will ever be able to fix it. He did change, and I changed too in my own way and things got ugly and it is what it is now, and part of what that means is I don't know how I could ever trust another human being like that again.

But I live in a complicated world. I am a 30 year old, single LDS woman. The idea that my crowning glory and greatest aspiration or achievement in life would be to marry in the temple... again is so inextricably woven into the fabric of my faith and so heavily reinforced in daily life on this campus that I feel almost inexorably jammed between a rock and a hard place. Let me explain.

In my life now I almost constantly feel two things. The first is this: an intense, unabated, relentless, almost primal urge to be a part of a family--to fall in deep and lasting love, to sacrifice and invest and become a mother, a wife, an equal partner. I crave a safe place to build what I see blossoming in Sassy McLadyBoot's eyes. Not only does that come naturally to me, but it's blasting on every radio station in Mormontown 24/7.

The second thing I feel is this similarly deep and primal urge to protect myself. I was hurt on a level that is challenging for even me, woman of many words, to explain. To get me far away from that pain I've had to cultivate a lot of you're just fine on your own sentiment. When all the pieces were left shattered on my living room floor there was no one else there to clean them up. This girl won't live in a shattered life forever, so, what is my alternative? To become a strong, independent, no nonsense woman who can and will take care of herself. And that works for me in a lot of ways. It's gotten me to Hawaii, hasn't it? It's kept me out of reach of dangerous and unhealthy men, right? It's dragged my sorry ass out of bed when it needed to, gotten me to class or work or anywhere-but-bed when it needed to. But it comes at the price of a small facade. In order to keep this persona up I cannot go around expressing my equally heart felt and intense desire to be a baby mama. The one seems to diminish the other. I am either strong or I am lonely. I'm independent or craving a man. I'm capable or co-dependent. I know the extremes aren't congruent with reality, but I can't help but flip flop between the two in my public and private lives.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I don't know how to find this balance and I don't know how much longer I can keep up this dichotomous existence, and I don't think it's fair that I have to, but I also don't see any other way. While I'm writing this I can already read in my mind's eye the well intended comment of someone who loves me saying that once I meet the right guy then this will all be over. I'll find my balance of interdependence. I'll meet someone who is the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, the Liza to my Minnelli, but just pause a moment and understand what a powerless position that puts me in. My only option then is to keep on yin-ing it up and wait--the curse of a woman in the traditional world of dating. I hate waiting. And now I can read in my mind again the commend of another helpful friend who loves me. She's saying the answer lies in being strong and true to myself. No man will ever make it better. Only I can do that. She's right too. They're both right and both pieces of advice are impossible.

I want a husband, a baby, my independence, my interdependence, my freedom and my sanity, and I want them now.

I know these are usually intentional, hopefully uplifting posts aimed at giving you a little leg up on your week, but this week, this is what you get, because I don't know what to do either, and sometimes the only thing left to do is say it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Things I have not been doing in the 6 months since I wrote last:

1. Falling in love.
2. Getting married.
3. Having babies.
4. Even dating, for that matter.
5. Writing anywhere near as much as I want to
6. Traveling to exotic places.
7. Getting enough sleep.
8. Sticking to my diet and exercise plan
9. Staying on top of my homework
10. Beating myself up about any of the above mentioned things

I just felt a need to clarify numbers 1-4 because I feel like those are the usual suspects when a person goes MIA. What can I say? I'm an original. I have to do it my way. I have, however, been doing two things you may find interesting. One is writing a book for you. It's a how-to guide for surviving divorce that takes you through the first full year of recovery. I'm revamping the site a bit and hope to have the book ready for purchase by the end of this year. I ran out of weekly updates on my divorce recovery progress, so I've been channeling my vast array of acquired wisdom into a hopefully somewhat comprehensive guide for those who walk this path.

The other thing is I've been doing is graduating from college. I'm 30, so maybe this isn't a big deal to some of you, but it's a big deal to me. One of the biggest areas of contention in my marriage was that The Mr. didn't support me going back to school and belittled my creative efforts. In two and a half weeks from now I will be graduating from BYU Hawaii with my Bachelors of Arts in Painting and Drawing, and (not to toot my own horn) I'm not too shabby at it. It's a victorious moment for me, and a very crazy time. When you grow up in a neglectful home and live through an abusive marriage and divorce, stability becomes a really key component to wellbeing. It's something I've been learning to generate for myself, but this is a time where it's inevitable. I will and am losing my footing. All anyone wants to know these days is what's next for me, and all I can say is, "I was wondering the same thing myself!"

I was just re-reading a post I wrote a while back. Blogging is my journaling. It's good to remember. I've been absent from this blog for a while. There are a few reasons why. One is I really have pretty much run out of new things to say in terms of regular updates. Life is going on. I moved to a house a few miles off campus, directly across the street from the ocean. (No joke. I can see it from my kitchen table.) I am making new friends, meeting new people, getting things done, but life now has so much less to do with my divorce than it did before. When I think of my divorce now I think of it as an exceptional challenge I went through that has shaped me in to a much, much better person than I ever could have become while in my marriage...but the aching is mostly gone. The big moments of wallowing in grief and resentment, feeling victimized and wondering what The Mr. is up to now, all that is over.

The post I was just reading has some things to say about how intensely I love living in Hawaii, how much it feels like home. I do love living in Hawaii. I have a hard time explaining to people who come from stable families why, exactly, I feel so much happier, more at peace, more myself on this extremely remote island, but you can think of it this way: there is a full sized ocean cradling me away from any and everything that has ever hurt me. If I get too caught up in my past, all I need do is go stand by that ocean and complain to it a while. She hears me out and then soothes me with her endlessly lapping waves. Shhhhh she says. It's going to be okay. I know, she says. And she's pretty much always right. That ocean, holding back everything from the world I knew and opening for me a whole new world of creativity and kindness, giving me the chance to make the world I want, exactly the way I design it, is a force for which I will always be grateful. I am now trained in the art of design and I put all my principles to work: balance, composition, light, contrast, variety, texture, color and scale. I made a world that, for a time, seemed to be the perfect safe haven from any new heartache or pain inherent in life.

And then, pain came anyway. Life is funny like that.

It's not anything serious. My parents are still alive and (as far as I know) so is my cat. No one did anything overly cruel or vicious, but in the last 6 months since I wrote I left my job on campus due to some exceptionally unfair circumstances. I was working as a graphic artist and I loved the time I spent there. I've lost some friends too. One went sour, one went home for the summer and one is moving home for who knows how long. I ran out of financial aide and every person I know is having children. Even my friends little sisters are pregnant. My situational depression likes to peek out and say hello from time to time, but I've learned something really powerful and I feel like it's worth sharing. Momentary lapses and times of what feels like regression are nothing to be afraid of. They're just a part of life, and one that I now know how to take care of.

All this is to say that tonight I am reminded that no place is immune from some degree of suffering, and that's ok. I let people in close to me and they disappointed me. I try things and they fail. I take risks and they don't always pay off. This is all really normal stuff and important to remember that that's just how God and the world work. I was incredibly blessed to be able to give myself a fresh start, and I have done that. I have taken full advantage of that "get out of jail free" card and intentionally built a life here, and God saw fit to put in the painful experiences He sees that I need. And I do need them. They aren't what I want or what I signed up for. They are hard and uncomfortable and, at times, embarrassing, but they are good.

This is one thing my divorce really did teach me - that pain is something that can be managed. It's not something we need to fear. It's normal to feel discouraged at times, and even safe havens have their drawbacks. That's ok too. There's power in accepting that as reality and moving through the times when we do get stuck, out of balance, confused, frustrated, stressed or hurt. Life is good, and life hurts. Both are true, and because both are true, life is also beautiful.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

She Ain't Heavy, She's My Brother

Photo attribution here

Two weeks ago I was sitting in sacrament meeting, sketching, minding my own business when God asked a favor of me. In a very polite, yet insistent way He said, "Will you please go out yourself as a divorcee by bearing your testimony in front of your entire ward?"

I have made a lot of progress in being open about my relationship history. All my close friends know and I discuss relevant details when they come up, but any time I'd considered sharing the facts in one of my Sunday School lessons, I had always gotten the feeling that I would be doing myself more harm than good. Then, pretty unexpectedly, there I was--sitting in the congregation of my BYU--Hawaii ward with my hands shaking so harshly that I had to stop sketching. That's how I know, by the way. That's how I know He wants me to get up and say something--jitters in my belly and my limbs. Makes for kind of a funny moment for me, but who am I to complain about the way God chooses to speak to me. I asked probably three times, "God, are you sure?" And He was.

So, I did it. I wasn't very happy about it, but I did do it. At the time I thought it must be for the sake of someone in the congregation. I thought it must be pretty important if God was going to go to all the trouble of outing me for it. Maybe there was someone out there who it helped, but now I am not sure.

I have one real guy friend here. He's a musician, a thinker, a talker and a tender lad of twenty-two. We are perfectly content to plant ourselves somewhere on campus and talk each other's ears off until security finds us and reminds us that it's well after midnight curfew and we need to be on our way. A couple nights ago we were engrossed in just such a conversation. I was explaining to him about my guts and how deep down inside them I feel like being transparent about the things I deal with (my divorce is just a drop in the bucket of a dysfunctional family) would be an unbearable burden and nuisance to anyone I opened my mouth to. "So you feel like you're inflicting yourself on the people around you?" he asked. And I had to admit--yeah, I really do. And it occurred to me in that moment that that mentality is at the heart of my deep seeded loneliness. I feel so alone often in my life. I feel misunderstood and undervalued and mostly I feel like all that I have gone through and am going through is just too much for any acquaintance to take in, so I don't show it. And this is what my friend, we'll call him Brown Pants, has to say about that.

"Well, that's a load of shit." Which was followed by, "Sharing experiences from your life with your friends makes the relationship better, not worse. I can't fix it and I can't completely understand the experience, but I can empathize with you. It's good to know--the things you go through. It helps me understand you."

I went on to tell him about how I had already burdened him enough with stories about my life (my divorce, depression, family problems etc.) and how everything I disclose is so heavy and I don't want people to think I am just drama, but also how it's not fair because this is just the hand I was dealt and I can't do anything about that and I try so hard to be healthy and happy, functional and progressing but no matter what I do I will always be divorced and that separates me from the rest of the crowd and makes me a heavy load to bear as a friend so I need to compensate for all the issues I have by being an especially excellent friend and... (Yeah, it all came out as a rapid fire run on sentence, just like that, but it ended with...) Don't you feel burdened by all that I tell you about my life? It's just so heavy.

To which he responded with a very simple but sincere, "Not really, no."

If the atrocity that was my marriage had continued the other night would have been my four year wedding anniversary. My aunt just got diagnosed with an especially aggressive form of cancer and my mom was recently served divorce papers, so I was a little emotional. I called Sassy McLadyBoots, and like the rockstar best friend she is, she snatched me up and fed me gelato 'till I felt better, but there was something in that exchange that was, like the Brown Pants moment, surprising to me. I've always considered myself a particularly socially savvy person. Not that I am super popular or do any kind of networking, but that I understand people. I am absurdly empathetic and have always been able to pick up on the moods of others. So the other night at Sassy McLadyBoots' I was perceiving that it was getting later and she wanted me to go home. I'd been venting at her, so I was sure that she had had enough of my emotionally heavy banter and said told her I would start heading home. She looked at me, totally confused and said, "Why? I thought we were having fun."

When you have been hurt by someone, I mean really, intentionally hurt by another human being, especially if it goes on for long, it alters the way you perceive yourself. I consider myself very healed at this point in my recovery. I have done the work, seen and paid my shrink, written my blog, talked it out, and moved on in my life. But here we see it clearly--my misinterpretations, the way my views of life have been skewed by destructive influences remain.

I think God wanted me to let other people see this horrifying thing that's been lurking in the depths of my belly, riding my shoulder, whispering in my ear, "Fake. Liar. Burden. Worthless. You have no right to ask for help." He wanted them to see it so that when I watched their faces for the shock, disgust, repulsion and pity I would see, it's not an ugly thing at all. It just is, like a red sweater or a tuna sandwich. It's one of the many building blocks that make up me. To most it's largely insignificant to their daily lives. To those who care it's a way to understand me, relate to me and hold a space of love and acceptance.

Realizing these things is a strange mixture of painful and alleviating. I am more broken than I thought, but I am also a lot more whole. I'm a lot more lovable, more acceptable and valuable than I had apparently thought. So goes the journey of divorce recovery. Two steps forward, one step back--but we keep walking.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sneaker Waves

One time, I got hit by a car.

It was over a decade ago now, so it's nothing for you to worry about. It was really pretty minor actually, albeit somewhat traumatic for me. I had just stepped off the bus and was on my cell phone with a friend, walking home after class. It was evening and chilly and wet in the early Northwest springtime. I came to a four way stop and, since I had the right of way, proceeded to cross at the crosswalk. A Bronco came directly across from me and maybe tapped his breaks, but rolled right through. I put my hands out in front of me, instinctively. The phone flew out of my hand and a slid back on the pavement on my stomach. The grand total of my physical injuries amounted to a sprained ankle, but then there's the part you can't see.

I didn't have (or really need) a car at that time. I walked everywhere I went. I didn't mind the adventure of public transportation, but after that accident I had a problem. Every time I heard an engine rev the way that Bronco's engine revved just before he drove into me I panicked. I'd be walking roadside to get to work and big trucks would roar past and I would feel my hands shake for a minute or two. An SUV across the parking lot would be accelerating to the ridiculous pace of 2 miles per hour and I would run for my life to the nearest curb. The response was not a logical one and the humor in it was too much for my friends and family. They couldn't understand it. I couldn't really be mad, because I couldn't understand it either. All I knew is that's how I felt.

That last post I wrote was a total downer. If you're here, you are familiar with the days that make you feel that way. I've been meaning to write a follow up post to it for some time now so you know that I don't feel that way indefinitely every day. It's a combination of school, a school newspaper I started and the fact that I am really in a new phase of my life at this point that has made this post so slow in coming, but I just wanted to take a moment today to talk about the moments like the one that caused me to write that last post.

It's probably only about every three months now, but there will sometimes be a night where I somehow work myself into a spin about my marriage. Instead of the sleep I so desperately need I find self remembering, reinterpreting, reliving the moments that once made up my life. I told Sassy McLadyBoots about this one morning when she picked me up and I was in a total grief hangover. She didn't understand. That time seemed so long ago to her that the idea that I could still be reeling in it from time to time just could not compute. I called my sister in law who has been in these shoes and she explained. When we've been through trauma our brain has to sort out the things that don't make sense. It takes time. It will get better. In the mean time, don't let the sneaker waves get you down.

That last post found its genesis in a link on Facebook. A good friend of mine had posted an adorable link of Dorris Day singing it and that was it. I was instantly lying on that sterile hospital bed, paralyzed with fear while simultaneously overwhelmingly aware that I had to get out of there. That memory is a strong one and it took me a little by surprise. I spent that night writing a post about it to process how I felt, and then I let it go.

In our recovery process we will all have moments like that one. They are usually unexpected and can be triggered by the things that seem the most insignificant to those around us. Others may not understand. They may think we are being too self pitying or living in the past, but after I was hit by that car, when I heard an engine rev I jumped before I thought about jumping. We have emotional responses to the trauma we've lived through. We don't have to be victimized by them. We don't have to dwell in them longer than the time it takes to fully process them, but we will experience them from time to time, and that's ok.

Life on the island is so beautifully balanced. It's incredible to me the difference in my soul from almost exactly two years ago. I still feel sorrow, yes, but today I know what to do with it. I know that it's not a permanent part of my identity, and I know that it will pass. I know that feeling it is normal and that I am entitled to choose my own way through. I know that I am strong, that I will make it, and that with God I can do hard things. When the pain comes, just remember--even if no one else seems to understand the why, even if you feel like it will never stop being there, even if, in that moment, you feel like it can't possibly get better--it does get better. You've just got to keep your face turned to God and your feet on the path of faith.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Failing Marriage

Photo attribution here.
I was only eight weeks pregnant. It was almost as soon as I knew that I also knew there were complications with the pregnancy. Spotting. Slow heart beat. Bed rest. I can't blame the baby for not sticking around. I wouldn't have. No one deserves that kind of home life. I was lying to myself about as hard as I could, but all that the stress I carried in my body was absolutely unbearable, even for me, a 27 year old woman. That's no place to keep a baby.

Before it all ended there was a night where I started bleeding. I called the emergency medical line phone number they had given me when it was confirmed that I was with child. The friendly male nurse on the other end recommended I head to the emergency room, so I did.

The Mr. came too... at least his body was there. He was playing a game where he was acting as happy as he could about the whole pregnancy thing, despite the fact that he had told me moments before I showed him the plus signs (three, just to make absolutely sure) that he was essentially on his way out of the marriage. Let it be a testament to the power of stress on a human brain that I somehow avoided allowing what he had told me before the big reveal to even compute. I couldn't believe that he would be leaving. I literally would not let myself. It's a defense mechanism used in the worst of times by the most desperate people.

When we got to the hospital, everything happened very slowly--not like a slow motion sequence of something significant-- I mean really, actually slowly. It was the middle of the night so it took hours to even get an ultrasound tech to show up. While we waited The Mr. fidget and played with the ER room equipment like a 12 year old boy despite my stress laced pleadings for him not to touch anything. When the ultrasound tech finally arrived it took an incredibly uncomfortable extended period of time with an instrument inserted in me for him to ascertain with extremely shaky hands, that the heart beat was slow and I should go home. Nothing we could do but wait.

That night I spent in the hospital I was racking every crevice of my brain to find some method of comforting myself. Ideally in this situation, of course, a woman would feel secure enough knowing her partner was there, but regardless of how hard I suppressed the knowledge that The Mr. was on his way out, my body still knew and would not allow me to relax. I suppose if a partner isn't available for emotional support then a girl might think back on her childhood--tender moments with caring parents, but either my childhood or my memory failed me that night. I could find nothing to grasp in an attempt to cling to hope and stability in the eye of the storm of the demise of my marriage--until, I remembered.

I was in my third transfer of my mission. I was with my follow-up trainer that I always called my fairy godmother. She had taken my by the hand and lead me into the mystical world of the terrifying and soul expanding life of an LDS missionary. After two transfers of her holding my hand and walking me through, I was getting transferred--to Kansas. Away from the Visitor's Center where I knew and loved 15 other sisters. Away from the house we all lived in together-- sharing stories, giant vats of lasagna and clothes. Away from the spiritual powerhouses I had come to know and love and the streets I recognized, I was being sent to an area far away with a Sister I didn't know to ride a bike in a skirt in a college town and talk to everyone about Jesus.

I cried.

I didn't just cry, I cried my eyeballs right out of their sockets. The newly formed friendships I had made there in those short months were and are life-alteringly important to me and in that moment I felt like I was leaving them behind forever. Crying like this is not uncommon for me, but crying like this in the presence of another person, for me, is almost unheard of.

My fairy godmother companion-- born and raised in Utah, runner of marathons, setter of goals, maker of plans, product of a stable home--knew what to do. You do what any good mother does when her baby cries. You sing to her.

So as I laid there and sobbed my little shortsighted eyes out in my twin sized missionary bed, this Sister, with no concern of her image or the awkwardness I felt playing the role of a child so aptly, sang me the song Que Sera Sera.

Que sera sera 
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera sera
What will be will be

I think it was the most motherly thing that ever happened to me. It must have been, because in that dismal moment where my marriage, my life and the life of my unborn, unplanned, unprotectable child hung in the balance, that is the memory I finally found to cling to. My most salient memory of that night in the hospital is lying on a sterile bed with an IV in my arm, conscientiously monitoring my breathing in an absolutely futile attempt to abate my stress, The Mr. in my peripheral, and I'm singing myself that song.

Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera sera

Two nights ago I had the experience once again of sharing my marital history with a friend who had not previously been aware of it. This is a lot more common for me these days. I find sharing the story lightens the burden of carrying it for me, and so I do--much more often. The question came, of course, as it always does, "What happened?" And I had that moment again where I felt a need to justify myself. I wished again for a way to encapsulate the bitter essence of that era into an easily distributable sentence, so that everyone could have a small taste of what that time was like and no one could hold my decisions and actions against me.

But there is no easy explanation. It just was.

It was horrible.
It was traumatic.
It was emotionally scarring.
It was more painful than anything I had previously fathomed possible.

But he didn't hit me.
He didn't cheat on me.
He didn't turn to pot or porn or develop a sudden affection for Neil Patrick Harris.
He just wasn't kind, and the story above is a 6 hour glimpse into the two years that caused me to draw such a conclusion.

I'm sharing this story for two reasons.
1. I feel a need to reiterate that it is acceptable, justifiable and important to place a premium on personal wellbeing. If you have a story like the one I just told, you are entitled to seek and find higher, safer ground.
2. If you know someone who has been through it, consider the possibilities of the vast realm of experience he or she may have endured before "calling it quits". There is more than one way to hurt a person. There is more than one way to die.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Another Friend to Talk to

I suppose there are a few reasons for the lull in my writing, but the most interesting one is this: I no longer strongly identify as, "a divorced person". A quick read through these posts would help you understand how significant this is. There have most certainly been times where that was the only thing I could think of to talk about with any person who entered my life. Now... now I just feel like...

I don't know.

A woman. A student, an artist, a friend, a human. I feel funny and happy and dynamic and compelled to do important things. I feel more healthy. I feel more normal. I feel more whole, and for this, I am extremely grateful.

I am 100% certain this is becoming broken record irritating, but I want to reiterate once more how very much time helps with healing. It does get better, with time.

All that is to say... I don't actually find myself ruminating on thoughts integral to divorce recovery of late, and I think that's ok. I do want to stop in and say hello and that I hope everything is going well, and I also want to provide a link to the blog of a friend of mine. He discovered my blog one day while in the worst moments of this road we walk and reached out to me. I am very glad he did. He too has started a blog chronicling his navigation of divorced LDS waters. The bonus is that his perspective covers so many things I don't and can't. He's more mature than I am, was married a lot longer than me, he has children and therefor still has to maintain a working relationship with his ex. Also, like the majority of my readers, he doesn't have the luxury of the option to pick up and move to Hawaii in order to nurse his broken heart back to health. I highly recommend his blog, and you can access it here.

In the mean time, I'll be checking in periodically and have a few posts forming in my mind. Keep walking, my friends. I get emails regularly and know there are so many more out there who do not write. Even on this lonely path, you are not alone. We are all in this together.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Take my hand, we'll make it, I swear...

I'm in Oregon, as I occasionally am; eating ice cream, as is often the case; in a giant floral muumuu, which is a special treat bringing me inordinate amounts of joy.

I just drove from San Diego to Portland and stopped at nearly every thrift store for the entirety of that stretch. The muumuu was purchased in the last thrift store on my last day of this endeavor to collect clothing for a vintage one-layer-modest clothing line, and it will always be a treasured memento.

As for the trip, north of San Fransisco I drove almost exclusively on the 101--which is gorgeous and quirky and I highly recommend it for road tripping fodder. South of San Fran it was the 1 (or PCH) for as much as I could manage. What that means is that I basically just spent the last two weeks careening my way along rocky cliff sides overlooking a vast ocean, then popping into the redwood forrest, then hopping back out to the Oregon coast in time for sunset lit lighthouses and blustery evenings of cold noses. Oh, Oregon. You're so silly. Don't you know beaches are supposed to be warm? : )

Anyway, I just wanted to check in to say:
1. I'm alive, and quite well, thank you.
2. I haven't forgotten you, or my divorce, but...
3. 18 months divorced (oh my gosh, almost 19 months! I didn't even realize that till I looked at my calendar just now) feels pretty dang amazing.

I am pretty sure it was the 18 month mark for me where I really broke free from the captivity of my post-divorce pain processing/wallowing. I hesitate to even call it wallowing because that word has such a negative connotation and processing is highly personal in its nature and time frame--but a girl knows when she has transitioned from sincere grieving and processing and into purely unproductive wallowing. Wherever I was at 17 months, I am not there now. In all honesty I feel like a completely different person. I don't miss him. I don't hate him. I don't think about him much. I don't wonder where we went wrong or wish we had only… I don't think we could have made it work and I don't wish I had never met him. I just see what happened, and I accept it for the absolutely soul killing adventure it was.

And I see it as over.

That chapter is complete. I've tried to close the book before, force the chapter to end, but there is a difference between slamming a book shut because you are sick of reading and naturally completing the chapter. I've finished up that section of my life by living one day after another. Some might congratulate me for getting to this better place, but the truth is, all I did was keep living one day at a time. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Some of those breaths were laborious. Some were filled with spite and regret. Others were zoned out and disconnected, but I have accumulated enough of them now that I have arrived at nearly 19 months divorced. I did it! I existed through that time, and now, here I am in my floral muumuu eating ice cream and not thinking about how sad it is to be a divorced lady. I'm excited for what the next chapter will hold. All the foreshadowing in divorce recovery chapter seems pretty promising. I can't wait to see what is about to happen. There are so many ways the story could unfold from here.

I know this process is highly personal, but I do want to offer every reassurance I possibly can that things do get better. I remember people who had come through it telling me that and how I didn't feel like I could believe them because they seemed so healthy and lighthearted. How could they ever have experienced what I had and come out the other end like that? There was just no way in my mind that could happen. No heart could ever recover that destruction...and yet, here I am--a surprisingly lighthearted Ghost of Christmas Future, to tell you this:

Don't you give up. Don't quit! Don't you turn your back on God. We need you and the faith and fortitude you are cultivating even now in the world and the church far too desperately. My brother, Jesus, is real and He is there--for and with you. He has been the whole time, even and especially the times you couldn't and can't feel it--He is, because He loves you and He always will. He will help it get better. He won't let it stay like this forever. He loves you too damn much.

Keep your chin up. One foot in front of the other. If it's a lay in bed kind of day or week, then let it be. It won't last forever. The sun shines down eventually. Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.