I have this gift – it can be viewed as a blessing or much, much less, depending on your perspective. I never forget anything. Even the tiniest of things with no significance to some, I remember. Yesterday was a date of some great importance. Two years ago yesterday, my supposed ‘normal’ life was altered forever. My 22 year marriage stopped existing as my spouse informed me it no longer did. I wasn’t asked for my input, there was no discussion, there wasn’t even an argument – just the announcement of the end.
As I reflect on these 2 years, my initial thoughts are that it seems so very long ago. While the words still sting like a fresh wound, I hardly remember what I felt in those first moments. I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing – but other than my tears, I have no idea what was in my head as the longest relationship of my life was ended in 5 words. It’s funny how I can remember September 11 like it was yesterday – where I stood, paralyzed by fear, glued to the television as the images came across, the gasps and the tears as the first Tower fell, the longing for my family to be whole and home immediately so I knew they were safe, the complete numbness as the second Tower fell, the inability to turn away from the news coverage for days afterwards. But this inner destruction, this attack on my person, my family…happened right in front of my face…and yet the feelings and emotions were lodged so deeply inside that it seemed that they might never see the light of day. Instinctual mode broke free and took hold, and my motions became robotic – protect my children, show no weakness, do not become broken. Going through the motions, really…not feeling a thing.
Time is the enemy of numbness. Just like going to the dentist, eventually the Novocain wears off, and the residual pain breaks through. This is when the real work begins…learning to feel those feelings, meet them head on, one at a time, acknowledge their value and purpose, realize that you can survive the process and come out on the other side, stronger and wiser. But it is just that…work…and it’s hard and painstaking, and you have to want to get through it and see what you’re made of. For me, that meant a lot of soul-searching and a phenomenal therapist who never once judged me, told me what I felt was wrong or inappropriate, and helped to guide me through everything I was experiencing.
The biggest piece, though, was that I was ready to get healthy and whole – for me. You can’t experience any kind of traumatic event and then walk it out for someone else. Sure, you can try that – but the results come back hollow and meaningless – because you’re trying to walk your journey to please another, and that never, ever works. You can’t live your life to please someone else, and you certainly can’t sift through your junk to suit their needs.
The entire 2 years haven’t been rosebuds and raindrops. Divorce, I have found, is a very despicable word. I never realized just how ugly people who once loved each other can become when pushed to their breaking points. Battles over possessions, property and payments cannot be made kind. And when children are involved, one parent has to be annihilated to make the other one more appealing – there is no simpler way to put it. The number of times I have sat in that Family Court in the last 2 years has embarrassingly made me an expert on something I take no pride in knowing about. And I can say this in all truthfulness – God stands outside that Courthouse, as the feeling of evil upon entering envelopes you like a heavy wool blanket each time and you know you need to be washed clean when you leave. Love was never intended to be this way…ever.
As I’ve moved forward in my process of healing, I’ve decided that I have a small responsibility in his healing too. Not in his process, his choices, or his actions – but solely in how I choose to treat the man I once loved. If I continue to treat him with disdain in my heart, and yet intend to show Jesus to strangers, aren’t I being a hypocrite? How can I show any less than the love of Jesus to him? This is certainly not to say when he is hurtful I am just to accept it openly. That person is gone – the one that allowed herself to be quashed for years, silenced by emotional abuse that I was embarrassed to reveal. But I do not have to allow myself to be baited by his hurtfulness. I am stronger now, and I am secure in who I am. I won’t be confused about that ever again.
So what does all of this mean? Because I am healthier, I can lead my children in a much better way. They don’t have to be confused or afraid of what is happening in their own home. We all are prospering – a word I wouldn’t have dreamed to use even a year ago. Each of the kids has a path they are on, and they are making their way. And their Mama? For the first time in a long, long time…she’s happy and making plans to enjoy the days in front of her. I am done looking back…my ‘new’ is ahead and it’s waiting for me to discover it. I can’t wait!