Divorce sucks; I know. I think Elizabeth Gilbert put it best when she said “it’s like being in a really bad car accident every single day for about two years.” It nearly killed me multiple times. I have come through it though, by the Grace of God and with the help of my Amazing Friends. (Holy cow it took so much for me to get here, and even more for me to have enough perspective to actually write about it), but I feel like I can safely say- Though I never wanted to be divorced, there is no part of me that wants that marriage.
To spare you all the gory details I will just say it was a long, horrid end to a sometimes super shallow, occasionally heartbreakingly beautiful relationship. We were a dangerous mix of passionately devoted high school sweethearts and outrageously reckless enemies. It was an all too addicting cycle of rage and immature love. We became each others idols, and though I would never in a million years recommend divorce, breaking out of that cycle was the best thing I’ve ever done.
You should know this guy was the first person I ever perceived to love me selflessly. I’ve said before that my heart has known that Jesus loves me since I was itty bitty and this is true; God’s love and grace carried and covered little me through many terrible circumstances. My crappy childhood though, left me believing that humans were incapable of loving me. When this guy loved me, well I placed my entire world in his hands. And he was only a sixteen year old boy at the time, and I a fifteen year old girl. And so the most codependent relationship in the world was born. And then it died. (Which is for the best, trust me. Also, the actual reason behind the divorce is really a small detail in the story; and I feel it totally unnecessary to justify this decision to the world, so I will leave it out.)
Having made it to the other side of this mess though, I thought I would share a little about how I got here, (hopefully you can follow along with my mostly neurotic explanation)-
I’ve talked to you about my Inner Voice before. She’s not the brightest Inner Voice, a little harsh, a little judgmental, but she’s what I got. I’m working on softening her and have learned to take her to God, thank goodness. But a lot of my conversations (with myself) in the first couple of months went like this:
Inner Voice: Well, I guess you will just have to give up on men. All they do is hurt you. As a matter of fact I am pretty sure that is all they are good for.
Me: What?! No! I love men.
Inner Voice: Okay dummy. They do not love you; they just want to sleep with you and hurt you.
Inner Voice: Yep, look (queue long memory reel of guys who have done their best to prove this point to me)
Me: Crap. You’re right. Now what?
Inner Voice: Stay away from them completely.
Me: Ugh. That does not sound awesome at all.
Inner Voice: What’s your other option?
Me: Get crushed again?
Inner Voice: Yep. Also, the father of your children? Everything he ever did or said was evil.
Me: What?! What about the good stuff?
Inner Voice: It was all wrong.
Me: (deep sigh) Okay, I guess you’re right.
Maybe I am the only one who has had this sort of experience with divorce, but I think maybe not. I will say this, I do love men, for many, many reasons. And I do have a few good ones in my life. So (with help from God, friends and counseling) I worked out a plan to convince myself not to totally shut down towards every male in the universe. I spent time with Jesus on a regular basis, and I intentionally spent time with the great men that God put in my life. It was extremely helpful to experience safety and love in a male context while going through separation and divorce.
But I couldn’t shake the idea that the first person to ever selflessly love me was wrong and everything he ever did or said was wrong. Honestly, it wrecked me daily. It proved my twelve year old self right and took me back to thinking I was totally unlovable. If the one person who made me feel loved had decided he hated me, then all hope was lost. If everything he said and did was wrong then all the kindness and affirmation I got from him was wrong, and all the truths that he spoke about my heart, hands, mind, eyes, smile and everything else were wrong.
Also, if everything was wrong, then because I had given him authority to shape and therefore destroy my identity, it was going to have to be rebuilt from scratch. The hard thing about that was, it’s hard to see the truth about yourself when you are feeling awful all the time and your identity is twisted and misshapen. If you hand somebody your whole world and they say in a loving embrace, “You are so breathtakingly gorgeous, and the way you mother is so tender and good it touches my soul”, and then in a frenzied blowup they say, “You are wretched and I hate everything about you from your body to your words, especially your words”, well, let’s just say it gets a little confusing.
God was going to have to tell me about my value and worth; that was my only hope. And I was going to have to let Him; it was the best option I could come up with. So on a daily basis, sometimes mentally and sometimes on paper, God and I made a list. He pointed things out and helped me separate facts from falsehoods. Almost in spreadsheet form, He helped me discover truths. “You are beautiful inside and out.” “You are worthy of more than just sex.” “Don’t shut down to everyone. Don’t shut down to men. Don’t shut down to intimacy.” “Your body is my dwelling place, take care of it, but it’s not about being skinny.” “Your mind and words are a gift, but they can be misused.” “I gave you these children because you are the best mother for them, not perfect, but chosen.” I meditated, journaled, prayed, grieved and rejoiced. On and on He pursued me, spoke to me and answered question after question with Love.
One truth at a time, through reading the Bible, spending time with Him, listening and agreeing, I came to understand who I was in Him. Together we sorted things out. Tricky business, and I am not professing to have it all figured out, but I am much clearer on Him and me than I was.
Sure it would have been best if I hadn’t let that guy define me, I know. I understand the importance of not letting people shape my identity now, hindsight is twenty twenty and all that jazz. And certainly there were many other things that helped me work out this complicated mess. Every helpful step that was made though was a step towards Him. I’m not saying that I made all the right steps at all. I fell a few times for sure, ran in the opposite direction more than once, but I always came back to Him because nothing else ever came close to His words. It was all very “Redeeming Love” really.
The whole process was so tough, exhausting sometimes, but so much more than worth it. And now that I have made it through and have a little perspective, I am ever so grateful that He allowed me to come to Him and work all this out. I’m glad for the opportunity to spend time with Him and learn from Him. I understand that I am still in process, hope to forever be. And I'm happy to have Him tell me who I am all the time. Thankful that He is willing to sit with me, talk to me help, me heal and Love me.
A man that I respect very much grabbed me by the arm a couple of weeks ago. He looked me in the eyes and said affirming things to me. It was a kind of revolutionary, just some more redemption I guess. My experience has not been that being snatched up by a man generally leads to hearing kind things. That is exactly what he did though. And thankfully I was smart enough to stand there and let him, I even glanced up at him occasionally. I don’t know that that would have been the case if God had not already been graciously, tenderly, mercifully sowing seeds in me. It was a testament to the Freedom I have received for sure. It was a confirmation of His Love at work in my life.
Anyway I say all this to say- He is ready, willing, wanting to do the same thing with You. And I highly recommend letting Him.