I have not been writing much lately, except in my journal, in short spurts. My life has been consumed with one of the biggest and most difficult transitions anyone can deal with: my husband and I are getting a divorce.
This is not the kind of thing I can write about easily. I’m still in the midst of it, and that can make perspective hard. How much to say? How much to reveal? It is my process, my life, and yet it involves other people. Theirs is not my story to tell.
But mine is.
So here it is — my story, the part I’m comfortable sharing.
I met a boy in college, and we were friends. We had long phone conversations that kept me thinking for days after. We laughed. My junior year, he finally asked me out. We went on a couple of dates, a couple of college dances. After he graduated, he picked me up from my job at Barnes and Noble, and we drove into the city. His air conditioner was on, and his windows were down, and when I told him we should choose one or the other, he said he liked to have both at the same time. It was so impractical, so carefree, that it made me want to stay with him forever.
We took a trip to Seattle. He bought me my first alcoholic drink–a rum and coke–on my 21st birthday. We ate cookies I’d taken from the college cafeteria on my dorm room bed.
I’ve known my husband, soon-to-be ex-husband, since I was 20 years old. Fifteen years. All of my adulthood. I grew from a girl to a woman while I was with him. He slept in my college dorm room; he slept in my first apartment. We moved in together when we got engaged. Three years later, we bought a house. We switched jobs, bought cars. We had three gorgeous children in eight years.
And now it is time to part. Our contract is up. It is time to go. There are no more encores. The music has stopped playing.
There are parts of all of us, deep wells of knowledge, that know these things long before they arrive. But our conscious brains don’t want to face it. My conscious brain didn’t want to face this. I had to keep fighting for my marriage, I thought. I had to love harder, love better, stretch farther. God granted me that experience. God held me through it. And then God also showed me when it was okay to let go. And not just okay — but necessary. Vital.
I cannot say I have regrets about this, or that I made a mistake, even though the critical part of me wants to blame myself, or suggest I can’t trust my own instincts and decisions. But that’s not it. I had a contract with this person, something I needed to learn. And what I learned is that no one else can make me safe, or give me security. I am my own safe harbor. In the middle of this past winter, when the foundation of my life was falling away, I had myself to depend on — strong, determined, clear-headed, stable and available for my kids. If that’s who I am when an emotional earthquake hits, then what — or who? — could I ever have to fear?
I wish my husband love and happiness, however he may find it. I wish the same for my children. And I wish it for myself. Happiness and love is still possible. It may just look radically different than what I expected when I said my vows eleven years ago.
I didn’t fail at marriage. I tried my best at an institution that was just no longer working for me, for him, for the kids. Marriage is a beautiful institution, a hard one, a construct that supports and nurtures a lot of people. Maybe one day it will work for me, or maybe it won’t. But the best I can hope for is to experience the love around me, the abundance I have each and every day, the opportunities that were and are still mine, the depth to which I was and am able to love and give, and the ability to surrender when that love no longer exists.
There are days I feel good, and days I feel bad. Days I am lonely, and days I am overcome with joy. The tears, as Anne Lamott says, are a baptism. And love, my friend Stacey says, is greeting me everywhere.
And now, as I sit writing this, my first post since January, my brave and vulnerable post, my beautiful baby girl has just woken from her nap, and the birds outside are chirping, and a breeze is coming through the window like the lyric of spring.
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