Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Giving Your All

I have found that I have become a lackadaisical blogger. A boring blogger who doesn't write about a thing. Because it's easier. Because when I post cute pictures and  videos it doesn't hurt anyone. People smile, they think they're cute, they laugh at a funny story I tell, and they go on with their day. I haven't depressed them, or made them squirm with the realities of my life. I haven't moved them. People used to stop me and say "You write such great things on your blog!" Now they stop me and say "Your blog is so cute!"

Why the change? I allowed myself to be cowed by people who didn't like what I was writing. I hate drama. I would rather curl up in a ball and hide than deal with people who are out to get me. I let a tiny number of people dictate my life. I didn't just stop writing the bad things, I stopped writing the good things. I stopped writing anything meaningful because I didn't want them to own any piece of my life, even a page of it. I didn't want them to be able to touch me or my kids, even through email. It has felt appealing at times to shut down this blog entirely, but the cold reality hits me in the face: this blog helps support my family. I literally could not do without it's income. The drop in traffic since I've been blogging less has already hurt, and so I don't have the freedom to just quit. And I don't want to.

I miss the days when I talked about real things. And there is still a need for real things to be written. One of my very best friends tweeted me the other day, and it said just three words.

"Apparently, It's Over."

Immediately, I knew far more than those words should have been able to convey. It all came rushing back to me, a visceral experience that put knots in my stomach and bile in my throat. And the more we have talked the past few days, the more I have realized that I have stopped blogging my journey. Not because it makes it better for me to keep it to myself, but because I was letting myself get complacent about my life. Because it was easier to keep quiet than push buttons. I let being busy with school and the kids be my excuse, but really, I had lost my resolve.

January 3rd will mark eighteen months on my own, eighteen months since my (now ex) husband left me. At the time, I thought I would die.

I'm not even being dramatic, there...I literally thought it would kill me. Going on with my life without him seemed like an impossibility, and I went a little crazy at first. Being three months pregnant didn't help; my hormones were a roller coaster already, and this, the leaving, it just pushed them over the edge.

I did all the wrong things. I cried, and I begged, and I screamed, and I head butted, and I threw my ring across a parking lot late at night only to end up back in the same lot early in the morning, combing the concrete on my hands and knees sobbing over having lost it.

The thing is, I've never believed in divorce.

Which is quite the dichotomy, since I am divorced.

In my state, there is no legal separation. Divorcing was the only way I could get rights and custody and support. That piece of paper being finalized meant absolutely nothing to me, and I have never felt like I was no longer married. I have been committed, for the last nearly year and a half, to making my family work.

The ways I thought I could accomplish that have changed over the months. First, I read every book on affairs and separation and cheating and divorce that I could find. I begged. I groveled. I admitted to things I hadn't actually done, convinced that if our marriage problems were all my fault, then I was capable of fixing them.

Then, I stepped away. I disconnected, because all the books said that was what you should do. Later, I became friendly, thinking that if we became close again, he would realize how much he missed me. I bent over backwards excusing the things had had done and was still doing. Believe it or not, I became a sounding board for his problems in his current crazy, confusing relationship. Strangely enough, it was eerily similar to the way he had first gotten involved with her...talking about his problems with me. I've even went on quasi dates with him, thinking that without the kids involved, we could find that spark again that got us there in the first place.


In the past year and a half I have been convinced I hated him only to end up sure I loved him unconditionally all over again. It has been a roller coaster ride. There have been times we have been closer than when we were married and times when we have fought like cats and dogs. Throughout it all, though, I have prayed that he would come back to us, make our family whole again. At times it has seemed within our reach, a restoration. Apologies were made, long talks were had...it felt like it was at our fingertips. At other times, I think it cannot ever happen, that too many bridges have been burned. Once, John said to me "Maybe this happened because God wants you to be with someone better than me." It took my breath away when he said that, when I realized that the enormity of the things he had done had begun to seep through to his consciousness. Always, though, it has been one step forward and two steps back, and I knew long ago that as long as there was another woman in his life affecting him in such a powerful way we could never find our own road to reconciliation.

It has been a long road, and an ugly road, but it has been paved with good intentions on my part. I have fought to remain kind and tolerant, even when it costs me, even though at times I have failed. I have prayed more prayers than I can begin to count, throwing my family at the Lord's feet. The other day, when my friend Sarah stated with certainty that God would bring her husband back, I smiled ruefully, remembering when I felt the same way. She sounded so convicted, and I believe it for her. I want that for her. I do believe that her marriage can be saved. But what does that make mine, which could not be? Am I less worthy of a complete family? Is there something wrong with me because God never promised to save my family?

I know there must be others out there who ask God for their marriages back and don't receive the answer they want, and it seems important to acknowledge that. I feel like I need to say to all of those people that a marriage ending against your will does not make you less special, less blessed or loved.

Because I have a blessed family. My husband may have chosen to walk away, forcing a chain of effects I would never, never have chosen for my life. But I would not trade my life today. My life is difficult. I won't lie. On bad days, I feel like screaming when another mom complains because her husband is away for a night or two. I feel like my children are at a disadvantage because they are not allowed to process their feelings of sadness about our marriage not working out, that their father insists on selling the Two Christmases! version of divorce instead of letting them work through their feelings in a natural way.

Divorce is sad. Divorce is hard. Those feelings can be redeemed, made new, but not until they are understood and felt and accepted. There is a grieving period in divorce that is incredibly similar to death. I have been grieving for a long time. But the fact of the matter is, my ex husband is not the same person he was. I was fighting for a man that is so deeply hidden that he can't even find himself. It's not my job to fight for him anymore. God can do works in him, but I cannot. It's my job to make the best of the life I've been given, the life I didn't choose, the life that I am determined to make something beautiful of. I want to look back and my life and see no evidence of ashes.

And the thing is? I had to give up on the idea of restoring my marriage to do it. Because efforts divided are often useless. And I don't want faint, crumbling returns on my family. I want a strong, happy life and a strong, happy family, and so that's where all my efforts are going now. There are changes ahead for us, and I want to face them head on.

But to be honest, I'll always be a little sad about giving up.

It's okay though, to be sad. Because this is sad. Hard. Frustrating.

But worth it, in the end, wherever we end up, whatever my family ends up looking like.

These days, families are not defined solely by a husband and a wife and children. Families are whatever you make them. And my family will be strong and capable and whole even if there aren't two parents at the helm.

I have to believe that.
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