Tag Archives: divorce and kids

Is There Hope in Divorce?

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend

As with my journey through Postpartum Depression, my journey through divorce has been hard to talk about, and even harder to contextualize for my friends whose marriages go on while mine ended.  Bring into the equation the juggling of self-care, work, household duties, and 2 children now being managed on my own, there is little if any time to talk about it even if I wanted to.

I remember distinctly the day after the decision had been made.  I walked out into my small town community of about 2000 folks,most of whom knew about my divorce the second I did (as things go in small towns, word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing strategy).  There was a party at the local theater and a couple hundred of our mutual friends and acquaintances were there.  This was the first time I realized that marriage was something that held all of us couples together in a tenuous circle, that the dissolving state of my marriage was somehow,if only very subconsciously, threatening to those who were still maintaining theirs.  I tried to smile and engage and assure my friends that this was the best thing for all of us, because in these awkward social moments we must keep it together.  I spotted a woman who had been a single mother all these years among us very cliqueish couples, and I felt the weight of single motherhood drop like an anchor to the pit of my stomach.  I no longer belonged to the neat and pretty togetherness of marriage and family.  I was alone, de-husbanded, de-familied.  Suddenly the reality of it smacked me in the face and I felt utterly alone.

But at this point I was sure there was no going back,  and so I pushed forward reminding myself that fitting in was not going to bring me peace or happiness or anything.  I held my head high in public, though the inevitable sides were drawn and yes, there were those who shunned me.  I was demonized, gossiped about, judged and questioned.  I felt like I wore a scarlet letter everywhere I went.  Especially when messy decisions were made and life went on.

Even in the face of all the hardship that came with choosing the divorce, I continued to remind myself that better things were surely to come for all of us, and that divorce could be a way to truly finding those things we most needed but weren’t able to find within the marriage we had created.  I made my own hope, in my heart, even when faced with excruciating decisions and questions involving the children I love so dearly.

It has been a little over a year since the beginning of my divorce process, and I can say a lot of it was very lonely.  But I have made it and I continue to make it.  I wish I had heard of a Hopeful Divorce then, but it is a brand new course from Hopeful World Publishing, and even though I am already past my first year, every field note I receive in my inbox helps me move forward, stop looking back, and breathe more easily knowing there are friends out there who understand.

So yes, there is hope in divorce.  Lots of hope.  And we are gonna make it okay after all.

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend

The Heart of the Matter

It’s hard to imagine that a year ago I was living in northern Wisconsin in a spacious 5-bedroom farmhouse on 20 acres of pristine land.  We were visited by coyotes and black bears and foxes and too many deer to count.  The kids spent hours on the trampoline outside the patio door, chasing the new puppy up and down the long gravel driveway, wading through the creek that ran just feet from the back of the house. That farmhouse seems like a distant dream now, though I haven’t thought much of it nor looked back to reflect on the decisions that led up to leaving it.  Life sped up, our little world shifted, and we rode like hell to try and keep up with the turn of events that I myself had set in motion.

I had a dream one night that I was singing into a microphone that was strung to the top of a giant tree.  Three of my students were singing with me and when it came to my solo I was surprised to find that I didn’t hold back at all, I belted with everything I had as if it were my show, not theirs.  When I woke I struggled to find the song in the foggy waters of my waking mind, but later in the day the song came to me, and once I found it I couldn’t stop singing it:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I5d6pa3EcE?rel=0]

When I leapt into the unknown, finally honoring the empty ache in my heart where something had been lost for a long, long time, it didn’t matter anymore what surrounded me or how many bedrooms I had.

What mattered was coming alive.

There are conventional and condemning views of what I did, leaving my marriage in the time and the ways that I did, and those are exactly the same views which had kept me confined for so long in a place that shut down my heart.  I imagine that when you wake from a big sleep, there is a lot that needs to be sorted.  You’ve aged.  Your muscles may have atrophied, and in my case I lost a sense of strength that had previously defined and informed me.

When you are sleeping, your loved ones hurt.  They miss you, they wait for you to wake up. When my father was in a coma for 3 months, every day was a cloud of emotions and prayer.

One afternoon a year ago I spoke candidly with my best friend about my choices.  After all, we have led virtually parallel lives at times, sometimes running ahead or behind but always finishing together.  His words couldn’t have hit home more when he said “You’re back. I feel like I got my friend back.”  He was right.

When you wake up, your loved ones hurt.  

There is no way that I could deny then or now that my awakening caused pain in my loved ones.  My little family was taken apart, though without too much screaming or slamming of doors or fighting over custody.  It was relatively calm, mature, and business-like.  Nonetheless, when I took my son to counseling and she asked him what he wished his life could look like if he could have it any way he wanted, he said “Mom and Dad, me and my sister, back at the farmhouse.” And that is the heartbreaking reality a parent faces when divorcing.

My children have gone through more than just the divorce and moving over the past year.  Their dad has been seriously ill on top of everything else.  But even through all of that, I know that what I did in following my heart’s desire was the only thing that would wake me up.

When Dad woke up he had to relearn everything.  How to speak, how to write, how to eat.  It has been a mix of grief for me and my siblings since, having our once dynamic and charismatic father become an almost entirely new person, living with traumatic brain injuries.

I’ve been relearning too.  Even before the upheaval, I knew that forgiveness would be required.  I knew I would most of all need to forgive myself for the pain it would cause my little family, and that was the scariest part.

Now my kids and I reside in 2 bedrooms in my sister’s house and I can count the number of possessions we own fairly quickly.  We live in a metropolitan area where instead of a creek running by, it’s a freight train every 20 minutes.  Even as I write this I have a huge grin on my face.  Because I am so happy that sometimes I burst out in song.  Because I can laugh with my kids and give them so much of this happiness I have found.  Because I love what life is becoming.

From the outside it may seem to others that so much has been lost.  Yet if you peered into my chest, opened it up and looked into its crystal clear well, you would see that it is deep and full.

Finding our bliss sometimes means making very difficult choices and jumping the canyon we’ve been skirting once and for all.

Even if we hurt the ones we love.  Even if they never forgive us.

Even if it takes a lifetime to forgive ourselves.

Are you in need of support around your divorce?  

What if divorce were an opportunity to discover and claim the truest parts of yourself?

What if you had a friend who wrote you every day reminding you that you are not alone?

What if your children needed to see you this way to know what courage looks like?

What if you had a place to tell your stories with other divorced and divorcing mothers?

What if divorce were actually a bridge to your hopeful future?

What if there were an affordable way to care for yourself for the next year?

You are not alone.

Join me in having a Hopeful Divorce–click below for more info:

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend