Sojourn – A temporary stay; to stay for a time in a place; live temporarily
I grew up with this idea that if I was good and did things right then my life would be good and right. Don’t sigh, you thought the same thing too. Honestly, who grows up thinking they want their life to be bad or for things to go badly? No, we’ve all had that fairy tale hope that our life will be happily ever after if we do all the right things.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t seem to go the way we think. I don’t know anyone whose life has gone the way they planned. Maybe for some, things turned out better than expected and that’s great! Yay, go them. But for me things went in a completely different direction and I discovered I didn’t get the fairy tale life that I hoped for. Instead of my happily ever after, I found myself at divorce.
Divorce. Not a word I ever thought would become an intricate part of my life. On the contrary, I thought my life of marital “bliss” would last a lifetime. And I would often marvel at couples who had been together for umpteen years only to call it quits, which I could never understand. I mean, if you love someone, why wouldn’t you stay together? If you’ve spent all those years with each other, why wouldn’t you commit to your marriage? Why throw it all away like it was nothing? But why is pretty much a relative question. Why does anything happen at all? Honestly I’m not sure there’s a good answer, at least not one that will suffice.
So to say divorce caught me by surprise is a gross understatement. I was not (still not) prepared for what happened to me; of how my kids and I have been affected; of what is now my life and theirs. It’s like I had been standing on a mountain top looking out over the expanse of what I perceived to be a beautiful landscape (my then present life). Suddenly, without warning the ground gave out from beneath me, crumbling quickly. As I desperately tried to grasp hold of something, anything, that would keep me from falling into the chasm below I realize it’s not the ground giving way. No, I was pushed and I couldn’t stop my fall. When I finally hit the bottom, I’m left dazed and confused, wondering how I ended up here and what I’m supposed to do next.
After 34 years of marriage, my life is now a tangled mess of questions intermingled with confusion, shock, anger, rage, resentment, fear, sadness, abandonment, betrayal, and depression. Even after the initial gut punch that my marriage was over, I’m still gasping for air and a way to recover.
I have come to learn that emotional pain is very physical and intense. The best word I can use to describe it is exquisite. Every fiber of my being is under assault, like poison surging through my veins causing acute agony and torment. A friend aptly described it like an addict going through detox.
It’s unlike anything I have ever felt before, this exquisite emotional pain. It’s because it’s unconscionable, incomprehensible, unfathomable to believe that someone I loved, someone who pledged their life and undying love to me all those years ago, raised a family with me, lived life with me, did everything with me, could just up and leave me like I was nothing more than a passing thought.
And that’s where I keep getting stuck. I can’t seem to get past that unconscionable, incomprehensible, unfathomable act from someone I loved and trusted. How do I make sense of that? How do I recover from that? How do I get up off the ground? How do I pick up the shattered pieces of my life and become whole? I feel like I have been hit by a tsunami and there’s nothing but debris and destruction left in its wake.
I came across this quote by Viktor Frankl. He said, “…suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning[.]” He would have known a thing or two about suffering; he was a Holocaust survivor. It’s interesting that he suggested it’s possible to turn suffering into something that has a purpose because that’s the last thing suffering ever feels like.
Now while going through divorce certainly doesn’t compare to anything as traumatic as the Holocaust, it’s nonetheless devastating. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that going through divorce would have much meaning. Most of the time it’s just a lot of hurting. But nonetheless, I am attempting to get through it by being proactive for myself. I’ve been listening to podcasts and messages about dealing with grief and loss. I’ve been reading books that help to explain the emotional roller coaster I’m on as well as learning to understand myself better. I’ve sought the advice of friends who’ve gone through divorce and what helped them. I’m seeking professional help, too. And I’ve been journaling and praying – a lot.
But I’m still struggling to find a meaning out of this rotten misery. So to that end, I’ve decided to write about my experience, my soul journey through divorce to try to make some kind of sense out of it. I’m writing this in the hopes that my experience will help someone else out there who may be going through this same soul-crushing, life-altering situation. Or maybe, just maybe, what I’m sharing will stop someone from walking away from their marriage. Maybe they’ll decide that that one they committed themselves to is still worth the effort; that they’re worth fighting for. Maybe they will decide to chose happily ever after rather than divorce.
My friends who have gone through divorce keep reminding me that I will get through this, albeit one awful day at a time. Their point is that it’s not a permanent place and there is life after divorce. Sometimes that’s really hard to believe because most days it feels like all this awfulness will last an eternity. Other days, I do feel hopeful.
I have adopted a life motto. It is a promise from God. A dear friend sent this to me a year ago never knowing at the time how much this would impact my life now. It’s what I cling to everyday – every heart-wrenching day.
God is within her, she will not fall. – Psalm 46:5