I am blogging again, apparently.
I went to the doctor yesterday and she said I needed an outlet. Actually, it was the nurse who took my medical history and vitals. We were going over my reasons for the visit. Apart from the obvious one, that I haven’t seen a doctor, except for baby-related issues, in years, and also that it seemed reasonable to use the brilliant health benefits I will soon be losing, I have had some varied physical complaints lately and thought it was about time for a check-up. We went through all the family history questions, and then started going through my current concerns. I mentioned that I was pretty sure that things were related to stress, and that I have been going through a divorce. Of course I started crying, because I pretty much always cry when I talk at length. (My sister-in-law once observed that practically everyone in my family can be counted on for tears and deep conversation.) But yesterday I was particularly fragile, and even though I didn’t go to discuss my personal life, the nurse launched in to probably the most healing modality possible. She started telling me crazy stories about her divorce.
“Girl, you don’t even need to tell me about the stress,” she said, “I know, I know. Let me tell you, one time I went to the bank and found that my husband had somehow cleaned out my savings account. I mean, he left $10. And this was not our joint account, this was MY account. When I found that out, I said to myself, ‘I am going to go home, take a hot bath, and then take a nap. And when I wake up, this is going to have been a bad dream.’ So you know, I went home, but when I got up, Yup! it wasn’t a dream. So girl, I was in a onesie — you know, footies and all — I got my baseball bat, I jumped in my car, and I drove to the hospital where we both worked. I walked up and smashed the window. Then I went in and beat his ass. Yes I did. I broke his arm. He was laying on the ground, and let me tell you, seeing him down there, WAS WORTH IT.”
Suddenly I was crying harder than ever. With laughter. (I still am, hearing her voice in my head.)
She went on. “Oh yeah, I mean, it got nasty. Mm hmm. And then — and then once it was over, he started stalking me. I was thinking, ‘I already broke his arm, what more does he want?’ One day I was driving down the street and he ran out in front of my car. Do you think I stopped? No! I kept on driving. All you heard was ‘dah dum! dah dum!”
“Yeah, see, we all been though it. You will be fine. Believe me, I have a cat that loves me UNCONDITIONALLY. You just need to find an outlet,” she paused for a second to look me over, “Like kickboxing, maybe.”
The visit could have ended then, because I think she genuinely healed me.
Nevertheless, I did stay and speak to the doctor. Who also told me stories of her first marriage, and its conclusion. But then we moved on to some of the actual physical reasons I was there. I told her I thought that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from having gone pretty much cold turkey on gluten. I know it sounds dramatic, but for real, I don’t know what happened to my brain this week. It started seriously feeling like it was on the blink. Yesterday when I woke up, I felt hysterical at the thought of getting out of bed. I knew it had to be chemical (at least in part) and so I started googling withdrawal from gluten, and sure enough there was a fair bit of info. Comforting to know that things are just all jumbled up, but I’m headed in the right direction. Although I’ve felt kind of knocked for a loop mentally and emotionally, I already feel so much better in my gut and body.
The last couple months (years) have been enormously stressful. But, unlike many of the stories I hear when people learn about my new chapter, I am filled with awe at the grace and transformation that is already evident. You can’t break up a marriage and not have it be traumatic. And despite my intentions, I know I caused more suffering in the beginning by writing things that were too up close and personal (and one-sided). When the storm hits sometimes, you just don’t know what to do, and protecting yourself or calling for help, however that looks for you, is automatic.
I was also surprised at the various reactions and bits of advice I received from people around me. Many were wonderful, caring and loving. But there were also several fairly aggressive suggestions, which I couldn’t really stomach. I mean, they were just “fair” in most people’s eyes, meant to be ways to “protect myself”, I was definitely advised away from the way I can’t often help but function — express my vulnerability. But it just seemed so awful to do the “smart” (strategic) thing.
I heard more than once, “You’ll find out who your real friends are”, and I took that to mean that I would be in for lots of rejection. There was some. I noticed my Facebook friends number drop a bit. I heard deafening silence from some people I would have loved to have been reassured by. But, I came to realize that finding out “who my real friends are” was much less about rejection, and just more about the ability to handle human suffering. Chris and I both come from such strong evangelical Christian culture, and there were some that tried to reach out to us individually from this culture. I appreciated (still do) their efforts, but I was also amazed at how incredibly out of touch they actually were. Not that I was looking for anything in particular, but its a strange experience to be asked about our situation, to share honestly, and then be met with, “Well, we’re praying for God to do a miracle!” In one case in particular, I shared some pretty intense details, and deep pain, as well as my repeated affirmation that this was indeed a real end to the relationship. It blew me away to get a reply that basically ignored the pain I shared, and stated brightly, and apparently meaning to be lovingly, “All things are possible with God! We’re believing God can change your heart!”
It made me re-evaluate my friendships. Not heavily, just begin to see them in a new light. Not based on religion and things I was taught I was supposed to share with others, but just on the plain friendship. Who can you share your heart most fully with? I have a better idea now, who I can.
It helps too, that I am starting to know my own heart more.
This whole new life came as the result of digging deeper. In the beginning of 2012 I found myself compelled to pray and meditate like I never had before. I know now, that I was struggling with depression and had been for some time. I don’t know exactly what made me choose prayer and meditation, but probably because I was tired of The Bachelor and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I was trying to re-remember why I was alive.
The journey that ensued must be saved for another time, but the story boils down to a deep desire to discover and rediscover life. Real life. I didn’t know I was doing that, or feeling that at the time. I think I mostly felt hazy about everything. I definitely never expected to end up divorced.
Life is far more interesting and nuanced than the steps that are typically handed out in early adulthood. Peeling back the layers and looking at things closely is painful, disorienting, straight up devastating sometimes. But worth it.
The other day I was on the train in to work and I read the guest post on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. Kristen Rosser wrote about the misinterpretation often preached of how marriage is a picture of “Christ and the Church”. This basic doctrine that both Chris and I were taught for how to relate to one another. I had to catch my breath a couple times, and I couldn’t actually finish reading. It made me so sad to think of how we attempted to fit ourselves into roles and behaviors that destroyed bits and pieces of us the more we sincerely we tried.
Him having to be my “head”, “authority”, “leader”. I mean seriously, who in their right mind wants that job? Me having to be his “submissive helper”? Ha. Who in their right mind (who knows me), thinks that was ever really going to work? Both of us feeling like failures deep down. Hurt and angry with one another for the pain it caused to be “faithful”.
I can’t actually think about it without crying. For the sincerity we had. For the love we tried to build all wrong.
When I came to the conclusion I needed to leave the marriage, it wasn’t in anger or volatility (though we’d seen those days aplenty). I’d begun to have my thinking rewired, begun to get in touch with the reality of Love. I began to act out of love; for myself, for our children, and truly for Chris too.
On New Year’s Eve, we ended up spending the evening together. Neither of us had made “plans”, and neither of us felt like a big night. After months of tension, much of it had already worn away. Too tired to cause more pain. No desire to hurt each other anymore. But we hadn’t actually talked about this. Until that night. Chris, knowing I am always struggling with low iron, suggesting having some steaks. I was bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed. And he went off to get supplies. He came back with a proper feast, and once I got the kids to bed, we sort of hesitantly began to prepare. He put away toys and I worked on the food. It got a little awkward once or twice, until he finally said, “Hey, can we, just for tonight, pretend that this whole mess isn’t happening, and just… be friends?”
And so we did. We got drunk and talked and ate. And cried. And even laughed.
He said the most amazing things. I never dreamed I would hear the things he said, at least not this soon. I don’t know, but somehow, following the gritty path of real love, works magic. But apparently, its not the kind of path most of us are taught to follow.
We marveled at how different we want to live our lives, how different our hopes and dreams and goals are, but how unlikely it seems we would have discovered this without one another. How the experiences we shared uncovered our deeper desires, the ones we didn’t even know how to articulate in the past. Neither one of us has ever felt more alive, and yet, its the breaking apart that has brought this about. Strange.
I think we both feel relieved. And newfound affection.
New Years Day I woke up and texted him, “Did that really happen? Are we friends?” He replied, “Yeah” and then invited me to come over and he would make coffee.
It all felt pretty miraculous. And still does. But I must admit, that there is a new dynamic that has taken over, at least for me. Without the tension and conflict to keep the lines clear, and keep me focused on moving forward, there is freedom to lose my bearings. All the internal tension and pain that was left untouched in order to focus on the external, is now free to come up. It is a crazy new world, starting over like this. Exhilarating, sometimes. But freaking scary too.
Unraveling the story inside will take time, I know. Building a future can only happen at the pace of one day at a time. I feel like charging ahead some days. And some days, like yesterday, I wish I could regress into a womb of blankets.
But doctors orders help. Find an outlet. And kickboxing is out, so I am back to blogging.