Friday, January 24, 2014

I still get sad sometimes, and that's okay.

Photo attribution here.
I spent a lot of my childhood riding in the back seat of a car, watching the road--quietly contemplative. Speeding along the freeway I would watch as the pavement holding us would silently split into two lanes--one with a brand new destination. We'd cruise along, parallel with the new road. Two that had been made from one. I'd watch as the new road rose or sank, then took its own turn and silently peeled away from us and disappeared from my view. I'd wonder then for a moment where that road went and how it could disappear, so smooth and silent. When I think about The Mr. now, I think about the roads. One road split into two, silently going their own ways.

When I first got back into classes here in Hawaii I was completely immersed in the healing that comes with creativity. Particularly there was a drawing class that took all the time, attention and focus I could afford it. I loved it. My professor was excellent in pointing out where I was going wrong and teaching me how to fix it. I marveled at the return I got on my artistic investment over those few short months.

In this class an interesting thing would sometimes happen. I'd be so lost in trying to capture the core shadow on the sphere I was drawing that I probably morphed into a full on mouth breather and didn't even know it. The kind of concentration it takes when you are first learning this stuff is nigh unto Jedi Master in training concentration. I'd be full on in the throws of mastering the force of my charcoal pencil when all of a sudden, a still frame from my former life would flash through the feature film of Frowfrow Goes Back to College and Loves It. It was such an unexpected juxtaposition that the first time it happened it almost knocked me over--it was so dizzyingly disorienting.

When I take stock of my life, the things I want to be and the things I've accomplished, the phrase, "divorced" inevitably filters through. Every time it does my brain does a double take. No, I'm not divorced. I'm not the type. I wouldn't let that happen to me. I'm not stupid enough to marry someone I would have to divorce. I wouldn't break that promise to God.

And yet, I did.

I am.

I can't take it back or unmake the decisions that brought me to and through that. I can't know better in time to not make those mistakes. I know God doesn't hold it against me, but I still can't help feeling like I can't ever get my slate completely clean.

I'm divorced.

In my memory bank there's ring, a proposal, a wedding day and a wedding night. There's a family ward I attended and an apartment I decorated. There are plans I tried to make and promises broken. There's the first times and the last times, the endless efforts of making it work, the cruel things that can never be undone and the way it unrelentingly would not renege until my soul was lying motionless on the floor, bereft of any ideas for what I could try next. There's a foundation--laid and abandoned.

I'm divorced.

And now I'm in my second chance at life, and it's a nearly surreal life at that. I put an ocean between myself and anything I'd ever known. I indulge every creative impulse that flits through my mind. I spent an hour today lying on a private, aqua beach reading for pleasure. I sleep in on Sunday, go out on weekends, skinny dip in January and have nothing I can logically complain about in this freshly constructed world I've built for myself. But there is always this part of me that is somberly saying, No, you don't understand. You don't know what it was like. 

I'm divorced.

I was married. I took a full on face dive leap of faith into the tea cup of a quick marriage. I make my conscious efforts to move ahead, to live in the present, to embrace the now, to learn from my mistakes and to cultivate gratitude, forgiveness and love--but I will never not be divorced.

That makes me sad.

So please, when you meet someone who has been through it, withhold judgement for a moment or two. Give the person space to be who they are--now. Let the divorced people you meet know that it's okay to be okay, that they are not categorically dismissed because of life experiences, and that life is full of tough choices. None of us get out unscathed. There's a unity to be had in sharing our stories, regardless of the source of the scar.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The voice inside that never lies, and is never wrong.

Photo attribution here

Do you remember a few entries back where I illuminated the benefits of breaking all contact with ones ex if at all possible? And then a couple entries later The Mr. called me just to see how I was doing? It was almost like God was testing my ability to walk the walk of all the talk I do. Well, my time with Captain Amazing has reached its end. We are broken up once and for all, and in grand summation of the whole situation, I would say that I'm pretty sure this, like the phone call, was one big test/chance to grow from God to me--like a Christmas present. A painful, excruciating, disorienting, soul stretching Christmas present from God to me. Refresher:

On August 16, 2013 I wrote the following:

There's a voice inside me that never lies and is never wrong. When I met The Mr. that voice said, "No thank you." But I kissed him anyway--a lot. When he proposed that voice said, "You do not know this man. How can you marry someone you don't know if you can trust?" But I told the voice to be quiet or we'd never find love. When The Mr. and I would sit in a room together, 15 months into our mistake that voice would say, "He's not here in the room with you. He's already gone." I would tell the voice, "No. He's the one who loves me."

I met Captain Amazing the day before classes began, the beginning of September. The voice kicked in about a week into our time together. I was waiting for him to stop by to pick me up for what I knew would be a very romantic evening on a Hawaiian moonlit beach. I was sitting in the courtyard of my dorm, chatting with him on the phone, arranging the final details of where to meet and when. The voice said, "Don't you go with him. Stay home. I mean it," but having been completely alone for the last 10 months and desperate (key word there) for some kind of something to take my mind off my past, infatuated with the exoticness of the potential of dating a tall, handsome African man, and with a soul so parched for affection the substance with which it would be quenched made little difference to me, I went anyway. I did not listen to the voice.

The next morning I awoke with memories of what I can only, in all honesty, confess to be among the most romantic nights of my life, I went outside to the Hawaiian sun and started reading my scriptures in preparation for church. I picked up my patriarchal blessing with a secret hope that maybe this gentleman could put an end to the eternally daunting task that is once more before me of dating and being single. Again, the voice was clear--this time almost fierce. "Let me be perfectly clear. Captain Amazing is not the one for you." But desperation dies hard.

I spent the next three months trying every angle I could think of to convince myself that this upset stomach was a result of my scrambled egg divorce brain. I was being overly cautious, defensive, unwilling to relax and neurotic. I told myself these things again and again and again. Why? Because I hate being alone. I hate being alone, and Captain Amazing was cute, romantic, funny, scholarly, devoted, a convert, a psychology major, an AP in his mission, a temple worker, a Sunday School President, was the CEO of a nonprofit for crying out loud, and a damn good kisser. But the voice was right all along. He is not the one for me. The voice inside me never lies and is never wrong.

After at least four attempts at breaking up the voice adopted subversive tactics, embedding herself into a muscle on the left side of my neck 'till it began to spasm. I'd gotten to a place where my brain was 68% devoted to anticipating and meeting his needs, which were often cryptic and unmeetable. I was eating too much, sleeping too little, not making time for myself and, by the end, incapable of holding a fully upright posture. Every day I wondered what I could do to make it better. I was apologetic, open, eternally available and losing myself bit by bit by bit...again, till the moment came where I'd had enough.

Breaking it off for good was hard because I, like my father, am intensely uncomfortable inconveniencing anyone. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but once things got bad enough that I no longer could see the situation for anything other than what it was, I couldn't go back anymore. He was determined not to end it, and I had to become even more firm. It wasn't pretty, but it was the right thing to do, and there is a peace in that.

Lessons to extract from this experience? Red flags:

1. If the person you are with makes you feel less like yourself they don't love you for who you are.
2. If you feel like your partner can't live without your help. Walk away from projects, no excuses, no exceptions.
3. If you cannot tell what you want, how you feel or what you think in the presence of another, you are having enmeshment issues and the relationship is not a healthy one.
4. If the person you are dating makes you feel bad on a regular basis -- bad about yourself, bad about your values, bad about your body, your taste in movies, your job, your major, you passions, your friends, anything really-- no good.
5. If your relationship with God suffers because of your devotion to your partner, run.
6. If you find yourself saying, "Things will get better when..." They won't. People have patterns. They can be broken, but usually are not.
7. If fighting with the person is overly dramatic, childish, or immature leave them in the past. You both have some growing up to do.
8. If the relationship feels unbalanced--like one of you is investing significantly more time, attention, effort and love into the relationship, it will not get better. It will get worse.
9. If you find yourself continually lowering your expectations, week after week after week. Some compromise is necessary, but we've all got to draw the line somewhere before we become shadows of ourselves and what we once were and wanted.
10. Just because a person looks amazing on paper, it doesn't mean you have the right to stifle the voice inside. I'm telling you, guys. She never lies and is never wrong.