You probably don’t know this, because, well, only a few people do. But, a few weeks ago I was going to file a legal separation from my husband. Not a divorce, not an I-give-up-forever, but an I deserve better, our children deserve better, even you deserve to be better.
Not that my children have any idea, because they don’t. Those years of acting classes have really paid off, in the fact that my children, blissfully unaware miracles that they are, have no idea what has been going on. While at times the tension has been palpable, they are buoyed by the grace of living in a happy bubble of backyard swings, freshly baked goods, and lots of cuddles. In their world, homework is the worst thing that happens to people. Mothers worry, but without reason, because nothing truly bad ever occurs.
That world, is not where I live. My address seems to be more at the crossroads of Hope and Redemption. But hope can hurt sometimes, can’t it? At times, hope feels like a hollow arrow, sharp and cutting. It’s lightness feels deceiving, as if the helium of everything I long for is slowly seeping out of its mylar wrapping, and poisoning the air. And while Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers”, I might remind you that feathered creatures need regular cleaning up after.
Redemption is wonderful, but also means that you have something you need redeemed from.
So there we were, at an impass. Our marriage resembled a traffic jam behind a 12 car pileup, at rush hour, on a busy highway. Probably with smoke, and more than one case of whiplash. My dreams and expectations had collided with the speeding metal of his choices, and left both of us crumpled and needing rescued.
And then. (Still two of my favorite words.) And then, against all odds, the miraculous happened. Love stepped in, its light clawing at the cracks in our self-involvement, pushing at the stone walls of hardened hearts, and changed everything.
While I have not daily seen limbs regrow and the lame walk, I do believe in miracles. Both the mundane and the extraordinary. But this one, came after I had given up. This one, waited until so long after the sun had gone to sleep, that I believed it would stay dark forever.
And yet, there it was. In all of its light bearing, heartbreaking, splendor.
So now, I find myself in a place I wasn’t expecting. Still with my husband, and without the luxury of giving up, or even of dealing with the big things later. Only now, I’m struggling.
When things came to light a few weeks ago, they brought a kind of darkness with them. Now, sure, it was all darkness that was coming out, and I understand that the monster has to walk out of the closet and through your room in order to get to the backdoor and leave your house. But when things have been hidden from you for years and then are suddenly revealed, you might feel that perhaps you were happier when the closet door was closed and you were unaware of why your guts were being twisted in suspicion that, perhaps, there was something lurking beyond the door.
Now, after everything has been illuminated, I feel a bit discombobulated.
You know those pictures of war torn villages that seem to fill up our newsfeed? The ones sandwiched between cute kitten videos and the latest on the Kardashians… Well, that is what I feel like. I feel as if I am walking around in rubble. No longer in the dark, but under a warm sun, yet, still, surrounded by rubble. I feel raw, and angry. I feel forgiveness having a tetherball match with self-righteousness, my heart the ball being batted back and forth, between the two mighty fists.
I wake up and determine that I will be nice. I go over it in my head, and imagine my words being laced with kindness. I picture myself scattering mercy, like flower petals and glitter, over my husband as he sits in the enchanted forest of our dining room, surrounded by gnomes and woodland creatures. I will make him coffee, French press, just the way he likes it. Then, I will make him a lunch that Martha Stewart would want to take credit for. I will do this, while blessing him with the melodic sounds of my harmonious voice, my vocal chords coated in a sweetness that Disney princesses have yet to achieve. Heck, I might even waltz with the broom as I sweep the kitchen, and wear a dress to do my housework.
And then I go downstairs.
I walk past the Keurig machine, and start grabbing baggies. I scan the pantry, feeling indignation and self pity. I imagine that I am Cinderella, and I remind myself to be kind to Lucifer/Wicked Stepmother/Ugly Stepsisters today. And then he walks in behind me. He makes his coffee, and actually hums, in the way only someone can hum when they feel no guilt. He is free, and I am chained.
My tongue spits words laced with hurt and fury. The law of kindness rolls to the side, unable to be digested, or even uttered. I feel alone. And hurt. And so angry. I do not feel responsible for his choices, but I do feel the weight of their destruction. I feel the grey concrete, strewn around me, rocks made of what was supposed to stand. I see the pops of color amidst the chaotic seen, the trinkets of what I wanted, amongst the broken beams. I am grieving.
While I know that we can build anew, I also know that I didn’t want to have to.
Even after experiencing the miraculous, even after Grace ran after us, overcame us, I find myself reeling. Maybe even lame men who are given the chance to walk again, stumble, and stub their toe. Maybe they ache in ways they hadn’t, sitting idle on the filthy street. Maybe I have to grieve to become whole.
Maybe I don’t have to know. I just have to keep going.