How many times have I heard those words from friends, even strangers or read them in so many different books and articles? I know everyone means well, but really, how does one “let go” of 37 years of marriage as if they were no more than an old pair of jeans that no longer fit?
For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. How on earth does one let that go? It happened. You can’t erase the past.
And “move forward?” Against the binding ties of so many years of life together? Impossible.
For a long time, it truly did seem impossible as I struggled through each day of fear and hurt and bewilderment, only to relive it all night after sleepless night.
It wasn’t until it was over, the divorce final, that I realized I truly was on my own. To be honest, I was terrified. For more than half my life, I had defined myself in terms of being part of a unit, one half of a marriage. And that was gone. Whatever had or hadn’t happened in the past–it was gone. There was no going back. No do-overs.
I wrote on a long sheet of white paper: Today is the first day of the rest of MY life. I read it every day. I tried to believe it.
But who was this person left in the wreckage? Where would she go? What would she do?
For me, that journey forward started with spotting a pretty pink armchair at the local recycling shop. It had curvy, soft lines and it made me feel good to look at it. Not trying to sound too pathetic, but back then, feeling good was sadly a rare occurrence. The chair was inexpensive, fit into the back of my old SUV and once I got it home, it became my place to sit with a cup of coffee in the morning. Just for me.
My husband would have hated that chair, but that didn’t matter anymore, did it? I could do whatever I wanted, couldn’t I? For the first time, that thought felt good instead of frightening.
Next I found some lovely lacy curtains (again at a thrift store – hey, I didn’t end up with much money but there is also power in being frugal). I checked out a DIY site on Google, then sanded and refinished the kitchen table. I dug out some fabric I had stashed for decades in the basement and recovered the chairs that went with the table. It was pretty. It made me happy.
I was making MY home.
Over the years, without consciously realizing it, I had shrunk my world to fit the confines of an unhappy marriage, trying to be someone else, someone that he would love. All I had accomplished was to lose little bits of myself along the way.
The joy I felt every time I saw sunlight filtering through those lacy curtains was opening a path in my heart. A path forward to myself that is reflected in how I go out into the world, what clothes I wear, the food I eat.
No way it’s an easy path. The thorny brambles of the past will always show up along the way. I stumble a lot, but I am moving forward into MY life.
Believe me, I’m not some paragon of strength and determination. It’s taken me five years to get to this point. But even a quivering sparrow of a woman can rise up from the cold ashes of divorce and grab hold of the joys that are out there in every day/
Well, I am here, alive and even thriving, and I am telling you: it’s all out there, waiting for each of us. One step at a time, right?