TURN, TURN, TURN
Divorce is not a four letter word though I was convinced it was several years ago. My reason for that can be summed up in one phrase, forty-seven years. That’s how long I spent in my first marriage.
Forty-seven years is an entire lifetime. I married at age twenty and until two months before I turned sixty-eight, I was a wife. Then one sunny October day, I wasn’t. Talk about turning points.
Certain experiences in life, like birthing and parenting, cannot be taught. The cyclone of divorce and the emotional tornado accompanying it are two such encounters.
Some of you reading this may have gone through this particular form of hell. I don’t know and I don’t need to know. What I do know is that divorces are simultaneously similar and unique.
There I was--floating through a calm period of life like many others are prone to do when a storm hit. After a year of doubt, my positive, cheerful self was whacked upside the head by an undeniable truth. With eyes wide open, my particular reaction was a decision to leap overboard into the Sea of Ex Wives. At the time I didn’t realize I was wearing iron shackles forged of memories.
Somewhere within the next several months, I became Christopher Columbus. I prepared and set sail into my New World. I lacked the explorer’s courage due to the pain in my heart, but I mustered determination like his to reach a mysterious and unknown distant shore. I rowed my divorce dingy in the direction of Single Island. I could not see it so far off in the distance. I had to believe it was there.
No sooner would I begin to feel my sails of self esteem start to billow in freedom’s breeze than a cyclone of confusion would arise to capsize me. I awoke each day to a storm of tears followed by scattered rays of sensibility. I hungered for quiet thoughts. I thirsted for peace. I permitted myself to drift on a tide of hope.
Now and then an unforeseen tsunami of hostility and anger would appear to toss me into the doldrums. The urge to lash out in any and all directions threatened to override my internal GPS, my gut-level positioning satellite. I refused to cast off the ballast of the past. I insisted on helping God be God.
Incredibly, with time, the waves of anguish diminished. Ebb and flow assumed a less frenetic pattern. Sometimes calmness reigned. No doubt the prayers of family and friends re-magnetized the needle of my inner compass.
Inevitably, I reached the point of no return in my journey. I pulled harder on my financial oars ‘til I could see landfall ahead of me. Seasons dragged by. Periods of tranquility melded with deep tidal pools of grief and undercurrents of inappropriate fears and self doubt.
Over time this chaotic pattern, too, spent itself, its energy dissipated. My psychological sea legs became grounded in the future. Ties to the past forty-seven years were reframed, replaced by tender acts that moored me to my new-found jetty.
Throughout this entire time of turning, turning, turning, I depended on my crewmates—faith, family and friends. In the end I successfully crossed the Channel of Despair. Prayer, love, and acceptance were my stabilizers, my safety net. The loving, caring people who unconditionally offered me dignity and respect when I needed it most brought me safely ashore.
In this new land I’m traveling I still lose my way now and again. It is then I glance over my shoulder to see if you are with me. You are. Thank you for being there.