I found myself Googling, “Should I stay for the kids.” I begged God to tell me what to do. I cried daily as I walked around my perfect house. Six years of marriage counseling, three beautiful boys, no black eyes, no adultery, no gambling and I was dying inside, every day.
I never knew how lonely one could be in a marriage, lying in bed next to each other, not touching, on our phones, like passing ships. He was a kind man and a good father. How I hungered for connection and wanting. Quiet clenching jaws and pleading ignored. But we had these little kids and divorce would destroy them. And divorce would destroy him. So I would stay. I chose to stay, over and over. And each day, a little piece of me died.
Sitting across from my two besties, they looked at me and said, “Your light went out.” And that was all I needed. I was trying to stay for the kids, for him and in the process I lost myself. Against the advice of family and friends, I left my perfect life and chose me.
And what has become is a beautiful mess. No more secrets, no more wrapping paper, no more perfect Facebook posts. The legal process of divorce was brutal and living all together while trying to sell our dream home tested every fiber of my being, but the only way out of this sh#t tunnel was through. And through I have travelled.
My boys are thriving and their life might not look the way we had planned and I had dreamed, but they have a mother who shines from within, once again. I was told many years ago to always find the gifts, that I must find the gifts in every situation, that it would be my salvation. Oh and there are many gifts to be found.
10 gifts of a messy divorce: (in no specific order):
1. You get to really, truly know your ex
2. You get closer to God
3. Your real friends will be all who is left
4. The guilt over making the decision will be removed, completely
5. You’ll be in the best shape of your life from the daily pounding on the Stairmaster or treadmill or pavement
6. No more fights over how you load the dishwasher
7. You’ll discover how resilient you truly are
8. You’ll write more, read more, cry more and dig deeper than you have ever before
9. You’ll know exactly what to pay attention to in your next relationship, exactly what matters
10. After the money, the custody, the schedules, the legal bills, the lost relationships and words of anger are removed the authentic you will be all that is left
If you put a gun to my head in those brutal, gut-wrenching months of back and forth between my heart and my mind, I always knew what I would do. When I looked in the mirror, I always saw the truth. We can hide it in a picture, or mask it in a post, but the mirror never lies and when we live our life with authenticity, mistakes and beautiful messes all that is left is the light.
And after that decision was made, and the next one and the next, I heard what I needed to hear from my very favorite author:
“Go, even though you love him.
Go, even though he is kind and faithful and dear to you.
Go, even though he’s your best friend and you’re his.
Go, even though you can’t imagine your life without him.
Go, even though he adores you and your leaving will devastate him.
Go, even though your friends will be disappointed or surprised or pissed off or all three.
Go, even though you once said you would stay.
Go, even though you’re afraid of being alone.
Go, even though you’re sure no one will ever love you as well as he does.
Go, even though there is nowhere to go.
Go, even though you don’t know exactly why you can’t stay.
Go, because you want to.
Because wanting to leave is enough.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar