Giving Up on You

10915241_10152876792155971_978935430022905142_n (3)The lyrics of the song “Say Something” capture the agony of loving someone who can’t or won’t love you back. I tried to hold on to my spouse and marriage, but eventually let go. There was a breaking point where I could no longer tolerate what was deeply broken, sick, and wrong. I came to the end of waiting, hoping, trying. Turns out, I had limitations to what I could endure and absorb. The end came after pleading for him to say something…. anything. If there was genuine remorse or effort or determination or steps in the right direction… I would have gone there with him.

It’s a process to say goodbye and travel alone. I feel small, scared, and unsure. With courage in my heart, I walk away and embrace a freedom that could only be found in giving up.

 

Advertisements

Divorce Care

DCLast summer, I logged onto the Divorce Care website. I had seen the group advertised on various church buildings, but knew little about it. Having benefitted from support groups in the past, I was eager to walk this road with others who could understand and relate to me. In addition, I heard there was a DC4K (Divorce Care for Kids) program. I wanted my kids to know they weren’t alone and have support as well.

I typed my zip code into the finder and discovered multiple groups in my city. I called the contact number for one of the groups and talked to the leader for about an hour on the phone telling her my sob story. Her willingness to listen and invitation to the group confirmed my desire to attend. It was an exceptionally good decision. 

Divorce Care is a 13 week support group designed to help people “find hope and healing for the hurt of separation and divorce”. Our group launched in September and ended with a Christmas party in December. The first meeting was raw and uncomfortable. We were strangers exposing our shame, grief, confusion, and brokenness to one another. However, as the weeks went by, trust and safety grew. We needed each other and came to value those sacred 2 hours every Wednesday night.

We took turns bringing food, sat in a circle, and shared about ourselves. Eventually, our leaders would start the 30 min. video. Topics varied week to week: Anger, Loneliness, Healing, Depression, Forgiveness, Moving on, Financial Survival, KidCare, New Relationships, Single Sexuality, and Reconciliation. The videos included interviews which I found powerful. It was helpful to hear from a variety of voices – – men and women – – who experienced divorce. Expert authors and counselors were also interviewed. The best part, though, was the discussion that ensued in our group following each video. We vented. We laughed. We cried. We drew strength and hope from one another. 

While the adults met upstairs, our kids met downstairs in a youth room. They were hearing every week “it’s not your fault”. They had their own leader, own video series, and own discussion time.

Divorce Care is overtly Christian and at times a little cheesy in the fervor for others to know Christ. Nonetheless, I do recommend this resource to anyone going through separation or divorce.

My DC friends are a gift in the wound. I treasure their friendships. Now when we see each other, we raise a glass and toast to new beginnings.

God Led Me Out

People of faith believe marriage is sacred. We make our vows not only to our spouse, but to God. Our vows are a lifelong commitment to love, honor, cherish…. in sickness and in health…. till death do we part.

So if God created marriage, designed it to be lifelong, and hates divorce – – would He ever lead someone out of marriage??? This is one of those questions I hope we all wrestle with. It’s an important one.

Growing up in church, I heard a strong message from the pulpit that divorce was forbidden. Needless to say, the process that led me to divorce was a fight with Almighty God. I resisted divorce for a long time. In various ways, I told God “no”. Yet, I’m convinced that God led me out of my marriage. 

Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. woman standing in doorway looking out at bright sunny day, view from behind and below

God gently helped me accept what I could not change. He helped me see that my need for safety and sanity was most important. He brought many people, conversations, and events my way that helped me sort through the muck.

One woman even slipped and said “when you divorce” instead of “if you divorce” during a phone conversation. She seemed convinced on her end that was where it was headed way before I ever was. Wise people recognize that sometimes divorce becomes a necessary step toward freedom and safety.

One Saturday morning while attending a 12 step support group meeting, I had a break down. I cried as I told the group I don’t want a divorce, but I need one. After the meeting I went for a walk and poured out my heart to God. I told Him again why this wasn’t a good idea. Then I asked 3 questions and got 3 quick answers.

1. What will happen? Answer: I will take care of you.

2. What will people think? Answer: I will defend you.

3. What about my children? Answer: I am their refuge.

Soon after that, I was matched with a pro bono lawyer. I saw a door and recognized God was directing me to walk through it.  It was time to file papers. Even then, I paused. I gave God every opportunity to set me, my (former) husband, and our family on a different course. He didn’t.

I can’t help but wonder what God sees that I don’t see. There is much — SO much — that we can not see or comprehend. I wanted our story to end in reconciliation of our marriage and family. But, God is doing a new and different thing. I trust Him.

A High View of Marriage

There is a common misconception that divorced people have a low view of marriage and discard partners easily, flippantly, casually. This impression exists because there are some that leave marriage quickly without resolve to make it work.

Not all divorces are the same. I must say, SO many of the men and women I’ve met on this journey that ended up divorced – – did so fighting valiantly. I’m amazed at the fight, stamina, and long-suffering I’ve witnessed. We (I include myself) gave it everything we had – – and then some. Yet, there came a point for our sanity, safety, and protection that we let go. This doesn’t mean we didn’t want our marriage or uphold marriage. It means we lived the serenity prayer in it’s fullness.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Truth is, marriage involves TWO people. Two individuals working side by side, living in the same reality, equally devoted and determined. Both need to take the bull by the horns and deal with anything that comes their way. Both must look out for the interest of the other. If this isn’t happening, it’s hardly a marriage. I can’t tell you how many times I was “on the field… in the game… face marred with dirt and sweat” only to look over and find my (former) spouse sitting on the bench! You can’t have a marriage if you’re the only one in it. People with a high view of marriage know this.

marriage quote

I’m pro-marriage. In fact, I want to help others guard and protect their marriages. I think “us divorcees” could lead the most amazing, powerful pre-marital classes. We’ve learned a lot. In our great loss, we’ve gained a deep appreciation for what marriage can and should be. I even venture to say that some of us have a higher view of marriage than some married people.

Least Likely to Get Divorced

Divorce wasn’t suppose to happen to ME. On my mom’s side, my grandparents were married 70 years. My dad’s parents made it to 30+ years before my grandpa had a heart attack and met an early death. My parents are going strong with over 40 years of marriage under their belt. On my (former) husband’s side, both of his grandparents had very long marriages till death do we part and his parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Added together – – I did the math – – there is over 300 years of marriage that preceded us in these 2 generations.

divorceSurely we were immune to divorce! Divorce was a non-issue. We vowed not to. We both believed the “D” word wasn’t to be said out loud. As if this wasn’t enough protection, we also had our Christian faith. Not only did we not not want divorce, but we knew God didn’t want it for us either. Seriously, there was no possible way we would end up divorced.

But then it happened. In year 17, our marriage came to an end. I would say abrupt end (to be dramatic), but truth is, the process was a slow erosion. Over time, the scales tipped, the holes could no longer be plugged or patched, and the damn broke.

How do I make sense of the outcome? In short, it’s because we had a cracked foundation. Strong solid marriages require trust, honesty, teamwork, safety, and fidelity. Sadly, he broke these agreements and codes of conduct early on. His deception and lack of repair set our marriage on shaky ground. I decided I can’t do marriage without these essential components.

Advice to freshly divorced self

pen paper

The Huff Post published a blog from a divorcee a few days ago that caught my attention. I liked this post for many reasons. The author, now 8 years out from her divorce, looks back and reflects on what she would tell her recently divorced self…. if she could. It’s as if she was speaking directly to me. I’m the newly divorced self. And like me, the timing of her marriage — and her divorce — happened at the end of the year around the holidays. She knows how hard it feels. Crazy enough, she’s also a mother of 4. I want to believe what she’s saying. She’s lived it… the new beginnings, grace, wisdom, strength and hope. May I experience life after death.

Huff Post article:  8 Years a Divorcee: 8 Things I Would Tell My Freshly Divorced Self

The sad truth

Three days after my divorce finalized, I drove to a cemetery to spend time. There was something in my soul that needed to connect with the tangible reality of death. My eyes drank in the brokenness and sorrow around me. Tombstones stood erect in reverence of what had been. As I read each one, I was confronted with loss. One year old children were buried in the ground. Their voices stilled. I paused at the grave of a 4 year old boy and broke down and cried as I thought about the tragedy. I noted the many husbands and wives departed from one another. Families torn apart. Even the trees had emptied their leaves which covered the ground beneath me and echoed loudly another death beneath my feet. For as far as I could see, there was loss. Here in death was a reflection of what I was experiencing in life… premature endings.

IMG_0488              IMG_0477