It's been one month today since my marriage of just over 6 years ended in divorce. This may not make much sense, but most of the time, I feel like there's so much I could say and yet so little worth actually saying all at the same time. At any rate, I persist in these scribblings to help me get things straight in my head and, to borrow the legal parlance, to have a record to examine and learn from going forward.
It's beyond a cliche, but I really am trying to take the post-divorce process one day at a time. At least so far, I haven't had too much in the way of truly bad days filled with stinging regret or overwhelming grief. That doesn't mean those hard days will never come, it's just that they haven't shown up yet. Now that I think about it, part of the reason for the seeming shortage of really bad days since the divorce is because I experienced and survived so much of the trauma that is more frequently associated with the post-divorce process during the breakdown of the marriage and during the legal process of the divorce itself. Even if I never verbalized it, I'm pretty sure that some part of me knew that, by drinking the grief and pain cup down to the very bottom as my marriage was disintegrating, I would spare myself some post-divorce pain and grief on the back end. To be sure, those days where I knew the marriage was breaking irretrievably apart were difficult beyond anything words can describe. There were, among many other things, endless hours of self-doubt, wondering whether I was crazy, and questioning if I was overreacting. Those things were very bad, but the searing pain of knowing that, as much as it broke my heart, that I was right in knowing that there was nothing I could do to save the marriage was even worse.
There's no one post that can really cover everything that goes along with a divorce, so maybe the better option is to focus on where I am right now, at this moment. Anyone who knows me knows that I love music, that it speaks to me at a depth I am hard pressed to explain to anyone, and that when song lyrics express what I'm feeling, I'll usually just quote the lyrics because there's no need to try to reinvent the wheel when somebody else has already said it perfectly. Today's lyrical wisdom comes from the song, "A Little Bit Stronger", by Sara Evans. As a younger man, I never used to like country music even a little bit, but as I've gotten older and lived in Nashville for a while, I've come to discover that one of the things that country music does very well is setting heartbreak and all that comes along with it to music. As the title suggests, this song is about someone trying to live, survive, and put the pieces back together after the end of a relationship. I won't quote all the lyrics verbatim, but the song starts off describing the process of just getting up and forcing you to do all the things that need to be done (getting up, getting ready, going to work) to make a life for yourself, especially in the aftermath of a painful break-up. The lyrics that describe what I'm feeling now begin:
"It doesn't happen overnight.
But you turn around and a month's gone by,
And you realize you haven't cried.
I'm not giving you an hour or a second or another minute longer.
I'm busy getting stronger.
And I'm done hoping we could work it out.
I'm done with how it feels, spinning my wheels,
Letting you drag my heart around.
And I'm done thinking you could ever change.
I know my heart will never be the same.
But I'm telling myself I'll be OK,
Even on my weakest day,
I get a little bit stronger."
There's so much good stuff in there it's really hard to pick just one thing. One of the main things that made my marriage so hard to walk away from is that neither of us are bad people, and I think we genuinely did care about each other. Unfortunately, it occurred to me one day that we'd reached an unbreakable stalemate in our marriage. There were things that both of us wanted, desired, and needed that, for any number of reasons, the other person could not or would not provide. Even though my now ex-wife despises this word, some of those things were deal breakers...it's just that I'm the only one of us who would call those things what they were and do anything about it. The overarching theme of those lyrics and the song itself is to just keep pressing forward, even when it hurts, so that time and space away from the relationship can allow you to heal. I thought of this song because it has been one month today since the divorce, and I really do believe that, as more time passes and as I spend less of that time thinking to much about the past and things that I can't change, I will get a little bit stronger because it's already happening.
Although I don't see it happening anytime soon (and it shouldn't because it's not fair to get into a new relationship until I'm sufficiently healed from the divorce), a big part of the motivation to get a little bit stronger every day is to get to a place where I am healed and whole enough to love again. As counterintuitive as it may sound, with everything I've learned from my marriage and divorce, I believe that I'm even better suited now at 35 to choose a better marriage partner and have a better marital relationship than I was at 27. I've always thought of myself as a hopeful romantic, and I still see myself that way. I believe as deeply as I believe anything that one of the main reasons God put me on this planet is to have an outstanding, awe-inspiring marriage, one that reflects how He loves the church and serves as a shining example that marriage is the closest thing to in-person, intimate relationship with God that humans will ever experience this side of heaven. I want and intend to be the best husband and father I can possibly be one day, but if I don't put in the hard but necessary work to get healed right now (every minute of every hour of every day), that will never happen. With a lot of faith, hard work, and God's help, I am becoming the husband, father, man of God, and ambassador for His kingdom that I am called to be, and I am excited beyond measure to see what God has for me in all of these realms. I will end this post with my fervent, ongoing prayer for my life:
"Lord, Your will and Your plan be done in my life and not mine...may Your hand and Your guidance be upon me...and give me Your spirit of peace and calm to accept the things You have for me...Amen."