When I finally decided it was time to tell my (now-ex) husband I wanted him to move out, that I wanted a divorce, I wasn’t ready to walk through the fire. I’d skipped around the burning coals for years, dancing past the cinders, dropping hints through smoke so thick, it choked my ability to be honest with him.
So I drifted further into myself, the cloud of silence growing, the fire building.
When silence didn’t work, we had conversations about what needed to change, what we both needed to work on. I loved him. It wasn’t that. It’s still not that. He’s a good man, a good father. I’ve known him almost half my life. My god, how is that possible?
My feet continued to burn.
I blurted it out one day, “You need to leave!” in a rush before I lost my nerve, my soles on fire. I couldn’t breathe with his booming voice, his anxiety vibrating, snapping at the very air of his slamming door, slamming drawer, clutter-filled presence. I needed peace. I wanted counter space. To breathe in my own clear air.
My soul burning.
So he left. Not without some protest, a mountain of bills, and the upheaval of our now suitcase-carrying, back and forth children who think I’m being selfish. And that’s okay. I see their point. They are too young to understand that breathing isn’t selfish. It’s more important that we do this thing together, focusing on co-parenting them, and we are. We are friends. He still calls me “Hon,” after twenty-two years together, which is sweet and only slightly strange, as when a child calls you by your first name.
It’s been easier, and harder, to go through than around. There is no detour when it comes to ending a marriage. “You will have to walk through the fire,” my therapist told me, and she’s right. Nobody does this for you. It’s a grown-up thing, this divorce business.
You dig through the ashes for answers, and realize that you are just as imperfect as you fear, that all those cliches about change are so fucking true. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. I don’t even blame change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but taking a Zen approach to it all has helped immensely.
I realize control is an illusion. We can’t shape a tattered love that’s no longer there, yet I can choose to cherish memories, and be thankful for happy times and amazing kids. That we’ve salvaged enough of it to still care about each other and our family makes me if not happy, at least grateful for this solo walk.
I’m damaged. I’m healing. I’m tending my scars.
The way it is with any kind of burn.
(copyright 2017, Broken People by Rachel Thompson, coming soon)