Reflections on Divorce, Part I

My kids are at my mother-in-law’s house, visiting with their dad for the second time since October 1st. They were overflowing with excitement, and burst from the car before I had even turned off the engine, throwing themselves into his waiting arms on the porch.  I watched, my throat tightening as Abby nestled herself in the hollow under his chin, wrapping her small arms around his neck. Those arms once meant safety to me, too. And now I stand back and watch, mindful of my heart and the minefield of broken dreams between myself in the driveway and him, standing on his mother’s porch.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to us. We were different. He spent ten years convincing me to trust him before I finally married him, and in him I placed my heart, hopes, children and dreams. When I finally gave myself to him, I gave my all. This wasn’t supposed to be us.

Some days  I’m like a second-day party balloon- without enough oomph to reach the ceiling, but with just enough air to linger in the middle, neither here nor there. I am not really married anymore- and yet I’ll never really be single again, either.  I am a wheel out of true, softly gimping along. I cannot see what is next, and I cannot makes sense of what’s behind me yet.

I have three hours while the kids get their time with their dad. He is across town, and driving home seems a waste, so I head to the craft store. I am purposeless, just spinning my wheels and killing time. With a giant hollow ache where my heart should be, the tinsel and Christmas glitter just seem sad rather than festive, and the canned carols in the store only make me feel more alone. I leave my cart unobtrusively by the register, one skein of yarn half-heartedly left on the seat, and walked out the doors into the cold clear night.

The quiet echoes in my head. It’s a lonely quiet, not a solitude.

I’ve always loved the holidays. I love decorating, and would be chomping at the bit to put the tree up before even Thanksgiving, some years. This year, I can barely even think about it- although I know it will happen. I will get the decorations out, I will celebrate with the kids, and when the lights are all out, and I think no one is looking, I will be utterly swallowed up by aching loneliness and the chasm of loss that hides behind my heart.

I know I can do this. I know the “firsts” are going to be the hardest of everything. I know we are all going to be okay- I just have to battle back the desire to see the end from the beginning. It doesn’t work that way. Each day, I must pick myself up, dust myself off, and take another step.  Eventually, I will have walked a mile. Just for today, for today only, all I can do is that one little step.

12 thoughts on “Reflections on Divorce, Part I

  1. Please know that you are loved deeply by many – and that, someday, you really will be able to see the beginning from the end. It won’t lessen your current pain, but it will give you understanding, at least. I can promise you that from first-hand experience.

  2. You can do more than endure, even. You can look around you and notice little stabs of joy that are hoping to catch your attention. You can open your heart to them, little by little, and feel the healing they bring. It’s a grieving process. Go at your own pace. But remember that your Heavenly Father is trying his best to comfort and heal you all along. And in time you will again be made whole. May you and your family be blessed this holiday season.

  3. I love what Ray said, “[S]omeday, you really will be able to see the beginning from the end.” I don’t know what you’re going through now, but I know the hardest times in my life have shaped who I am today. As awful as those times were, looking back now I wouldn’t change them, because if I did, I might not be the person I am or be in the place I am, and right now things are pretty good. So remember that some day you will get to another good place and you’ll be able to look back and see how the hard things made that possible. Good luck on the journey.

  4. The road you are traveling is rough and it is yours, no ones road is the same. Similar, yes, but still uniquely yours (which probably doesn’t bring much consulation). I hope you learn as you travel. I hope the path gets smoother as things balance out. I hope you allow yourself to be served, loved, and shaped.
    Many prayers and much love.

  5. Your description of “drop off” is dead on. Sometimes you just want to scream the reality, but when it comes down to it, that’s their daddy. Sixteen years later and I still feel that is the biggest battle I have.

    ****sending love******

  6. Thank you for portraying this so honestly. It allows those of us who haven’t been through this trial to understand better, which helps us develop compassion. We’re all in this together, even if our trials aren’t all the same.

    love to you-

  7. Once again you’ve nailed my thoughts and feelings. The kids are at their dad’s right now. This is his week. We are “trying” out the 50/50 thing, one week with him one week with me back and forth. So far I’m not conviced this is the best thing for my kids. But I agreed to try it. It is so hard to watch them leave with hm, or hear them talk about the fun things they are doing with him. I want to scream “it shouldn’t be like this” it should be all of us spending time together, doing those fun things. I agreed to let them have this first chirstmas apart with their dad. I know that this year is going to be so hard on all of us I didn’t want to make it worse by crying the whole time. So they get to spend christmas with their dad and grandparents and I fly to utah to spend it with my siblings. But it sucks, this wasn’t going to be me or my life. I was going to be one of those that made their marriage last for eternity.

  8. My marriage fell apart just before Christmas too. It’s hard to express how much you can hate someone for spoiling the one time of year when the world has always felt the most peaceful and loving and hopeful. The taint on it has yet to fully disappear even after 11 years. My heart breaks anew for you and your babies having to experience it as well.

    What kept me sane that first Christmas was sitting alone under the tree after the kids were fast asleep. I’d turn on only the tree lights and lay down near the tree and stare up into its glorious shining branches. The lights were warm against the darkness and their sparkle was pure and true. I thought of what the birth of Christ had literally brought to the world-light-warmth-redemption. I thought about how His sacrifice was required just as much for my own sins and shortcomings as it was for my ex’s. I thought about how He had not only made sure that His message of love, and peace and joy remained in tact so that it could reach my broken, empty, lonely heart thousands of years later, but that He had also moved in my life in such a way that I would have a chance to embrace and accept it.

    The love that I opened my heart to under our tree that year has evolved and morphed into something I could not have even conceived existed all those years ago. The “love” and “relationship” that I lost and mourned then pales into a faint shadow when compared to the love and companionship of the Savior that has never left my side.

    You don’t have to “fake it” through the holidays-and the kids will sense it if you do. Start some “new” traditions-teach your children the meanings of the symbols and holiness of the season. Find cheap ways to “secret Santa” other people so that they think more about what they can give than what they have lost. Make a “mistletoe mouse” (any animal works) and write a poem about secret acts of service and give it one of your kids and challenge them to do something for another sibling (or you) secretly and then leave the “mouse” as evidence. The recipient then does the same thing-and they see how many times they can pass the mouse around until Christmas Day. The more opportunities you take to help or serve or bless another (and without using money is even better) the more love and peace will enter your hearts and your lives. I promise.

    God bless you and your sweet kids.

  9. hi Trace- not much to be said that hasn’t already been said by many, just letting you know i love you and am checking in on you. I can see a blossoming as well as the sorrow.

    love you- chelsea

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