There’s no denying that we were both blindsided when our husbands walked out on us, and the immediate aftermath was terrifying. What were we going to do? How were we going to survive? What had been so deeply wrong with us that our husbands felt their lives would be better without us?
It affected us both physically too. I can remember one time, standing in a Walmart, shaking in fear that I might fall to the floor if I moved. It literally felt as though I was standing at the top of a high-diving board, where the ladder had been removed. The only way down was to jump into the deep water. As a non-swimmer it was petrifying.
But jump I did… because I had to. I survived the fall, doggy-paddled my way to the side of the pool, and grabbed hold of the railing.
It’s taken a few years for both of us to claw our way back to some kind of normality. Although there are still days/moments when we feel overwhelmed and when our exes take up too much space in our heads, we’ve reached a plateau. For now, we are financially stable, we’ve discovered great support amongst family and friends, and life is not just okay, but is better than we could have imagined a few years ago.
And yet… in our own ways, we are still holding on to that rail, unwilling to let go. I read a quote recently – which of course I can’t find now! – that said something along the lines of, ‘Letting go of something is easier when you have something to go to.’
For everyone that ‘something’ is different. We’ve been asking ourselves, ‘What do we want to be able to reach for’?
In all stories, Act Three (the last act) is the most exciting one. It’s where the hero(ine) doubles down their efforts and emerges victorious. But that glorious ending is precipitated by what is called The Black Moment at the end of Act Two – the moment in the story when all seems lost.
For those of us who’ve been betrayed by the men we loved, who’ve had to go through that despair, fear, awful self-doubt and grief, that was our Black Moment. But now it is the time to emerge into our third act.
But how do we DO that? How do we make our own Act Three one that’s exciting, that has value and purpose?
We recently heard about Julia Cameron’s new book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond, and it seemed that it might help us discover some of the answers.
The book guides the reader through a 12-week programme of self-discovery, examining the past, present and future. It involves daily writing, creating a memoir, weekly ‘dates’ with yourself and walking. It’s a three-month commitment to learning how to leave one life behind and head into one yet to be created.
So we’ve decided to go for it. We are both determined to move forward towards something good and creative, a rich and fulfilling Third Act. We are going to let go of the edge of the pool and start to swim!
We decided we would record our journey on this blog, but how? Usually, we run our posts by each other before posting, but for this, we’re each going to put up a weekly post at the same time and without conferring with the other.
Our next question was… When to start? Well, sitting in the garden today, we decided we’d start right now! So we’re putting up this post tonight and will follow up each Sunday night with posts about what we’ve each discovered in the week before.
We hope you’ll join us on this journey. Consider picking up a copy of Julia’s book, find yourself a notebook to write in and see what insights you gain. See what’s out there waiting for you. All we have to do is reach for it.
May ALL our Act Threes be exciting, creative and meaningful.
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. Continue reading