Joan Didion wrote:
I think this is true.
Too true—frighteningly true.
Life does change in an instant, and sometimes we don’t even notice it. I don’t know when that moment was for me. But I do wish I could find it, hiding somewhere in the archives of the fights—and the anger and the guilt—that moment when we tipped and one day found ourselves filing for divorce at a First Bank.
(That might be the bottom, or somewhere near the bottom, maybe not bedrock but something like it.)
We (the proverbial “we” or whatever) talk about death and loss a lot. I don’t feel like “we” talk about divorce as much. Maybe “we” do and I am not talking to the right people. Maybe “we” don’t because it is a kind of failure—a stain.
Not this girl.
I just know that it is a thing—and a thing we should probably try to figure out. Because it is seriously, a thing.
Didion also wrote:
“… we are imperfect mortal beings…when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
I wish someone would have told me that divorce could feel something like death; something like dying. Not just loss. Like the loss of your partner. The loss of your house. The loss of all of those people who were your family but are no longer your family. But instead, the major devastating-serious-debilitating loss of what it means to lose something you believed in.
Like God. Or Santa when you were a kid.
Whatever it is, it’s the loss that makes life stop making sense.
Life turning on a dime; changing in an ordinary instant.
The loss of that thing you believed in—in spite of everything: statistics, your own life, the books you have read—somehow that thing that managed to survive inside of you, that thing you believed in. Was it love? Possibility? Some crazy notion of the closest thing to forever that can exist in this finite life?
No matter—it’s gone.
I wish I would have been prepared for the earth moving underneath my feet. I wish I could have been prepared for how imperfect I would be. For the mourning. For the confusion. For the loss of the sense of myself, for the breath that would leave and feel like it was never coming back ….
I don’t know if knowing would have changed anything about the last year, but it could have made things less confusing or somehow more normal feeling…maybe. Or maybe it’s just awful and the knowing and the not knowing don’t change anything.
I’m not writing this to indulge in me—I am writing this because divorce is a real thing. A thing that affects a lot of us.
This year I have:
Received divorce papers in an e-mail.
Moved my family into a smaller apartment.
Quit my job and found a new job and somehow also stayed at my old job and kept my new job.
Watched all three seasons of that show about the people who live upstairs and the people who live downstairs.
Been embarrassingly imperfect. (At night. In the day. In those rare moments when the day meets the night).
Imploded relationships (some that were toxic and ready to implode but I definitely lit the match).
Made plans and canceled them and made them again and canceled them again.
Made a mess.
Felt like I didn’t know who I was.
Wondered if I ever was.
I was an “imperfect mortal being.”
I mourned the idea of “for better or for worse.”
I mourned the idea of me.
The idea of love.
And yet, I made it.
Tonight the snow is falling outside, like it has fallen forever. And music is playing. And ironically the chorus, the refrain, that fills my space says, “I know I know I know I know you are gonna be okay anyway.” And I have another story waiting to be read. And as shitty as it all is (and it is really shitty) I am here.
If you had a year like me, I hope as you welcome this next year, you jump a little higher, laugh a little louder. I hope you through glitter in the snow just because it refracts light if even for a moment. I hope you embrace the beauty of impermanence.
I hope you welcome this next year for exactly what is. A new opportunity that isn’t void of all the things that came before it, but is instead fortified by them.
All of that living. All of that trying. All of the dying and being reborn that we do in our own lives. All of that loving and losing. And all of the loving that is waiting somewhere around some corner, and all of that life that is asking us to better.
To be more. To be less. To be still. To be brave. To be us.
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