The Blueprints for Divorce

Divorce works its way out of you like a bad stomach virus, at first.

It ails you in vicious waves of anxiety and self-loathing, then subsides into untrustworthy lulls of relief that a sense that normalcy is a tomorrow away. You don’t know, though, when the fever will break.

One day you relish in freedom and a return to a truer, more honest sense of self. Other days you don’t want to get out of bed.

There are no rules, no guides, no blueprints for how to get divorced.

There’s a blueprint for finding a career: toil away at a university, sink yourself into something you’re passionate about, tote your degree on over to an entry-level job and find ways to prove your worth while fetching coffee.

There’s a blueprint for being in a relationship: invest your time in someone who gives you butterflies, play out the dating ritual, wait to be convinced (or not) that you should plunge beyond the endorphin-charged newness period into something deeper, something much better.

Having a baby, even: post a cutesy-clever announcement on facebook, register for the seven-piece crib bedding set themed in the trend of the moment, find yourself immensely humbled when baby arrives and reality undercuts that smug, enlightened parent you just knew you’d become.

You grow so accustomed to building in life — constructing happy memories, summiting long-awaited successes — that tearing down is frighteningly disorienting.

Divorce is tearing down, at first. There are no blueprints because it’s ruin. It’s an off-the-beaten-path blip, a sad detour, pitied by those staying the course. It’s a promising venture gone awry.

I can’t shake the heaviness of that failure.

Tearing down is the kind of demoralizing work that makes rebuilding seem like a daunting impossibility. At first, though. There comes a time — I’m hopeful — you find a way to start cobbling together, brick by brick, your very life.

I’m still stuck on the demoralizing work piece. For the first time, I don’t have a trail blazed ahead of me to help me understand where I’m going. I’m stumbling in the dark in search of good foundation material.

I remind myself, in my darkest moments, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe even without blueprints.

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” — Liz Gilbert