“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” ― Joseph Campbell
Many years ago I took a course at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. Led by Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of the Omega Institute, it was a course in shedding our fears and embracing Life, in whatever form it takes. Toward the end of the week we were asked the question, “What would you do if you were not afraid?” My answer at the time was “get a divorce.” I was becoming desperately unhappy, but my fear of being destitute, of being alone, kept me locked into a marriage that was not fulfilling.
Fast forward a decade to the summer of 2013. While on vacation visiting friends in Georgia that I hadn’t seen in years, my husband accused me yet again of having an affair, the fourth time in our 25 year marriage. In that moment, I reached into that place in my soul where my self-respect lived, pulled it out and said, “Enough!” Enough of the mistrust and accusations. Enough of being invisible, of always being second in line behind his job, his house, his yard. Enough of the lack of communication, the emotional wasteland. Just … enough.
September and October following last summer were rough. I took my cat and what few possessions I have, moved out of the house into an apartment in November, and we started counseling. While I felt at the time that the marriage was irreparably broken, I was willing to go just in case I was wrong, just in case there was something to be salvaged.
I was right. It was irreparably broken.
I wish I was skilled enough with words to explain how I feel about the loss of my marriage. Having cut my teeth on Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney, I bought the whole fairy tale concept with the happy ending. The prince comes riding in and saves the girl and all is well. He loves her with a passionate focus and depth that leaves no room for doubt and they live happily ever after.
Only problem is, that’s bullshit. Marriage is hard. People get hurt. Wedges get driven in between people and cause wounds that grow and fester and make marital limbs gangrenous. Sometimes the problems are fixable with time and energy. In my case, they weren’t. I had been hurt too many times, and we suffered death by a thousand pinpricks. By the time the final accusatory wedge was driven in, we were bleeding from so many holes that it became best to just let it die.
Now I am faced with a new sunrise at age 50. A chance to succeed or fail based on my own merits. A chance to tackle and understand money and investing. A chance to live fully, healing a little more each day with new friends and coworkers in a new city. A chance to be passionate about Life and people again. It is daunting to be facing an empty slate at my age. It is frightening, but no longer paralyzing. I know deep inside that I will be OK. I’ve taken the first step and have the support of my daughter and my friends. I’m strong, determined and willing to embrace whatever comes my way. The future is mine to create again.
Dr. Brene Brown said, “When you own your story, you get to write the ending.” I own my decision to ask for a divorce. It did not come easily, but it is the right decision for me.
I still believe in fairy tales. It might just be, though, that in this one the princess saves herself and lives happily ever after.
* * * * *