Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I Believe in Divorce

I believe in divorce.

I believe in it unapologetically, with my whole heart, and with every fiber of my being.

When I ask "if you're unhappy, why do you stay?" I get answers about children, about how the relationship is good "except for..."  I deflate, because living in the place of "except for" isn't really living at all.

I absolutely don't think it's decision that should be made lightly.  It is a heartbreaking thing to know that you are better off ending something you commited your heart to permanently.  If you have children, deciding that it is a better idea for them to have two homes is... nauseating.  Four years after my divorce the memory of the gut-wrenching thick sickness of those decisions is still enough to turn my stomach.  The memories of dealing with the feelings for which they had no words in the months after we moved out are still sharp enough to take my breath away.

In many cases, the innacuracy of talking about giving up is immense.  If you think about it, the fight put into trying to salvage an unsalvageable wreck was the opposite of giving up.

I also believe that breaking the promise you made is not the end of the world.

I believe that you deserve happiness.  You deserve a full life and dreams and plans and futures that you reach not in spite of being held back, but because you are free.  You deserve not only to be happy, but to be well, mentally and physically.

In the beginning, thoughts may start as seeds, tendrils creeping slowly into your thoughts like sprouts that haven't surfaced through the soil quite yet.  At first it seems entirely ludicrous.  You turn the word over in your mouth, silently, whispering in your brain.  divorce  You wonder, what does it really mean?  What does divorce actually feel like?

It feels like failure.  It feels like admitting that you are not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough to figure out how to make something work that you are supposed to be able to make work.

It feels like giving up, because you really meant it when you sat there and looked into each other's eyes and said, that won't be an option for us, not ever.

It feels like a bad dream, like a black hole pit in the middle of your being, sucking up all the things you always knew to be true.

It feels like grief.  You have lost the you that you thought you were, and the you that you thought you were becoming.  You have lost your partner.  You have lost the dreams and plans you'd made for the years to come.  It feels like your heart is breaking, wrenched in two right inside your chest.

It feels like being not enough, and it feels lonely, despite the fact that half of marriages end this way.  We marry young, we marry ideal, we marry for many different reasons and years gone by can erode those reasons until we see that life is full of so many other options.

The grass isn't greener on the other side, not right away.

But... it also feels like relief.  And day by day, week by week, month by month, it gets better.

Days pass, and the balance of dark to light starts to tilt.  You figure out how to give yourself a little bit more grace, a little bit more acceptance, a little bit more love.  Things are hard, but over time they get easier.  You figure out the new normal, and how to make things work.

You find that your body feels lighter than it did before.  Without that heavy burden of trying to make something work that couldn't, you are able to move more easily.  The stress of taking on the responsibility of someone else's happiness dissipates, and you remember what it's like to base your decisions more on your own needs.

Some people believe that divorce isn't for them.  They believe that divorce is for people who have been cheated on, lied to, abused, or deceived.  It's just not that simple.  All relationships are complex things, put two complex beings with hearts and minds and souls and wants and needs and beliefs together and how can it NOT create something even more complicated?

Of course no one deserves to be mistreated, to be hit, talked down to, beaten, gaslighted, called names, shamed, assaulted.  Even then, the decision to leave can be indescribably hard to make.  Because people are complicated.  But there is another group out there, stuck in this middle-ground purgatory of marriages that are just... meh.

When I was considering the future of my marriage I bought a book called "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay."  In hindsight, and as time went on, I realized that in my particular situation there was no "too good to leave" at play.  However, relationship ambivalence is a real thing, and I think we all deserve better.

When I was married, I used to hear stories of people who were still in that stomach-flipping, heart pounding, take-your-breath-away love after years together.  I would hear about people who loved their spouse more with each passing anniversary, who looked forward to the rest of their lives together, and who still found each other irrisistable.  I didn't believe them.  I scoffed, thinking that there was no way those things were true.

Now that I am in the after, I see.  That kind of love is possible, and I want it for everyone I know.  I want to shout the the world, especially to the women whose hearts I feel connect to mine.

You are beautiful, and you don't have to settle for okay, for good enough.  Life is too short to give in to what is easy when you could be experiencing things in full, glorious color.

You are worth more.

You are worth everything.

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