Sunday, January 12, 2020

New Year, New Life

I've been struggling with the way to properly announce this. And really there's no good way. Many people are already aware, but some are not. My husband and I have separated.

There. Announcement done!! Sometimes you just have to skip the careful preface and rip off the band-aid.

Every relationship is unique, and ours is one that was bittersweet. Rooted in this cute beginning as high school sweethearts, we lost touch for 10 years and then married in our early 30's. Even as we go our separate ways, we continue to be intimately intertwined as we navigate the details of a (hopefully) successful co-parenting strategy. After 13 years of marriage, we didn't walk away because we hate each other. We walked away because we couldn't simultaneously love ourself and the other person in a meaningful way within the confines of that relationship. Well, that's the best way I can describe it anyway. But as I have learned over the years, there are three sides to every story: My side, his side, and the truth. I can't tell his side of the story but I can share a bit of mine.

The responses I receive when I tell people my husband and I have separated usually fall into one of these three categories:

1. "I'm so sorry."
To which I usually want to respond...."Don't be. I'm not." That's not to say that everything is peachy and my new version of "happily ever after" is a dream come true. To me, sorry represents regret. And 4-months into this separation I can say that I do not regret the journey, and I do not regret walking away. This transition has come with moments of sadness, ugly-cry grief, fear, anger, relief, hope and spontaneous-dancing joy. I'm sure the challenges of our situation will continue to reveal themselves as time goes on. But I'm ready. Over the past year I have done a LOT of work around feeling all the feels, making time for self reflection and giving voice to my authentic self. Through that process I have come to realize that who I was inside this marriage was not the full expression of who God created me to be. My happiness was in spite of the relationship, not because of it.

2. "Oh my gosh. I thought you guys were happy."
Well, we were. To a degree. But not to a degree that worked for us. To be fair to him, our children, and the rest of our family, it really doesn't do any good to belabor the details of how we got here. Suffice it to say, we worked long and hard to avoid this. This decision to share our children and divide all our worldly possessions did not come lightly. During our life together, we weathered some pretty hefty challenges that might have busted up other families into a million angry, jagged pieces. We patched together a life the best we could. In the end, what we were left with was a broken vessel, not sufficient to hold a meaningful, authentic version of husband and wife.

3. "But I just saw you together at (fill in the blank)"
Yes, we do that. We are still raising children together. We attend school functions, we go to church, and we celebrate some holidays together. I still consider his family to be my extended family. Fingers crossed, we won't be the couple showing up on Judge Judy. Our shared goal is to not turn this into a shit show.

As I move through this new and unexpected season of life I can say that I feel the blessing of middle age through it all. At this stage of life I have friendships deep and strong enough to help me process all the feelings, and different people to turn to when I need to cry, dance, get some fresh air, or share a bottle of wine. The shame of failure is tempered with the knowledge and acceptance of the fact that I (along with everyone else on the planet) am an imperfect human. I have learned to give myself grace. I have enough life under my belt to trust that this experience will not not break me. It will remake me in new and beautiful ways.