I can remember only blurred patches and foggy moments of those chaotic and emotionally charged months before my separation. I really have very little recollection of sitting down and arranging the separation papers with lawyers, I can now only vaguely recall sharing the news with my family and friends, and I have a dull awareness and memory of my ex-husband showing me a tour of his temporary place of residence. Beyond these moments however, my memory of that time in my life is hazy to the point of vanishing. I remember feeling completely numb and overwhelmed with each piece in the process toward divorce, every step toward our separation feeling more and more surreal and secretive, and as if the two of us were planning a big surprise party, piecing the event together behind closed doors, and concealing it from our children and from most of the outside world.
Things really only became decisively lucid the day that my ex-husband and I told our children that our family dynamic was about to change. Telling our kids was the concrete blast that took our hidden, two-dimensional plan into instantaneous real-time motion. Guided by a child-divorce therapist that my ex-husband and I had seen in preparation for that day, we approached the moment very well informed, with a script in mind to follow, and with boundaries suggested to us about what we ought and ought not say. We were wisely advised to avoid the word “divorce” when we told our children the news, and we agreed with the experts that while the full information would come to them in time, our kids did not need to bear the burden, the weight, of all that was about to change for them on that very first day. In truth, my kids weren’t completely aware of the full consequences of that momentous conversation, but for me, it was the moment of impact, the kinetic energy and inertial force of motion that propelled my life in a different direction, and I felt the solid Earth move beneath my feet. It spun me about 90 degrees from my original navigational coordinates, and while I was resolved to trust in the slow journey of the vector change, I knew that I was also determined to set my world back on its proper axis before my kids felt too much of the tilt.
Any solid memories of my journey through divorce began on that day, and my moods that accompanied those memories could be described as nothing less than mercurial. Some of them were dark and bleak, heavy with fears about how I had failed my kids and how their future might suffer because of it. I had nights upon nights of quiet tears, feeling alone in the dark, paralyzed by fear about how I would cope on my own, or how my kids could possibly cope without me. Other days I felt electrified. I found myself sizzling with courageous energy, empowered by an inner fuel for having just accomplished a task for the first time on my own, or that I had crushed a fear of mine that seemed just too overwhelming to overcome. These polarizing experiences stretched on for years, at times with only momentum pushing me forward. In retrospect, that momentum was likely mere hope. Hope that somewhere outside the chaos of uprooting our family, that my ex-husband and I would find peace…Peace that we were each worthy of a better love, peace in knowing that our children were worthy of being surrounded by said love, and peace in creating a more authentic life for us all, even if that meant that we would require two homes to find it.
As I write this blog today, I have been living four and half years on my own. There is no partner at my disposal to share in the responsibilities of any house upkeep, chores, bills or financial directives. I have no better half to trade off with when I’ve lost my patience with my kids during homework or bedtime. I have no extra set of hands to help drive the kids to different places at the exact same time, or to help ease the load when I’m exhausted or unwell (insert huge nod of thanks to my family and friends here who do!) When I’m “on” with my kids, I am ON, and I now carry no shame or worry about turning that parenting button “off” when my kids are with their Dad. Yes, for four and a half years I have learned to do it alone. In fact, I’m confident now that I am doing “alone” quite well! How is it then that I don’t feel lonely?! Sometimes I’m just as surprised by this fact as you might be when you ask me if I would like to live with someone again, or get married again, or blend my family with others. My answer is categorically NO. I’m happy and comfortable exactly where I am at this very moment. Which leaves me thinking… perhaps after all these years of working so very hard toward my ultimate goal of stability and peace for myself and for my kids, of creating a home with less anger and silence, of actively moving towards relationships with more love, openness and candor, of truly being present for my kids, and them truly showing love and respect for each other, of choosing to live a more minimalist and authentic life, and of surrounding myself with family and friends that I respect, adore and trust…that perhaps I’m no longer moving toward that ultimate goal of peace….Perhaps I’m already here.