The other day I took a selfie, because after getting ready for the day I felt pretty good about myself and figured I’d capture the moment. Not a big deal– except it actually was. I realized I hadn’t taken a selfie in 9 months, and I got to wondering why.
The reason, I think, is not so different from the reason I haven’t written a blog post in over a year or posted much of anything on Facebook or made any efforts to catch up with old friends and acquaintances in real life or social media. I have been hiding. Keeping a low profile, staying off the radar, because essentially, I have been lost. I have not known who I am, I have not known where I am going, I have not felt proud of what I’m doing, and so I have made efforts to not draw attention to myself.
My life currently is a lot different from what I thought it would be 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 1/2 years ago. Different in almost every way, actually. I’ve been through a lot of personal challenges in the past 16 months. A lifetime of emotions. Pain, betrayal, guilt, disappointment, emptiness, misery, self-loathing, disbelief, utter confusion, anger, inner turmoil, hope, relief, empowerment, joy, contentment. And those emotions have been felt over and over again, an ongoing exhausting cycle.
I am a writer. It is my nature to want to write through my problems and challenges. When I had my miscarriage a year and a half ago, I started writing about it almost immediately. The process was healing and it was gratifying to know that I was of help to others; it gave my sorrow a bit of purpose. Unlike my current situation, however, I felt no shame in having a miscarriage. It was not my fault. There was nothing I could have done differently. Nobody would judge me for it. But my recent challenge? People might judge me. Some already have. They might say it’s my fault. I’ve certainly wondered if it is. Certain individuals might be mad at me for making it public knowledge. And so I haven’t said anything. Even though I knew it could be healing and beneficial to me, and probably for someone else. Even though I am a writer and have dreams of being a really good one, I haven’t written anything in months because the thing I really want to write about has been off limits.
But I am tired of all these limits. I don’t want to hide away. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I don’t want to be quiet and in the background and not pursuing anything, being stuck in one place because I’ve been forced into it and I’m not making any efforts to get out. I don’t want to be stuck. I want to be in control of my life, what I do, what I pursue. I don’t want to be shamed into standing still in limboland, not being seen or heard.
I am divorced. That became official just last week. I filed for divorce over 9 months ago. My husband… I mean ex– but I hate that term… My former spouse and I separated over 16 months ago. It has been a long process. One that involved my son and me moving to Kansas to stay with my parents, counseling and therapy sessions, visits back to Utah, lots of prayer, even more tears, working so hard to be able to distinguish the difference between true happiness and where I’d committed myself to trying to find it, and starting a new life almost from scratch.
Although the process of getting divorced has been very long and drawn out, the state of actually being divorced is very recent. I thought I was prepared for it, with all the time that led up to it. But the finality is a whole new experience for me. Slow to sink in. Bringing a sharp pang of sorrow and loss every time it does. Because it’s an “every time” sort of occurrence, not just once or twice. The words “I am divorced” repeating themselves in my mind each day, sinking themselves into that hole in my heart which simultaneously grows bigger and emptier… every time. Because it’s hard accepting myself as someone I never wanted to be. Someone I fought for years against becoming. Someone who is divorced.
But owning up to it seems like a good first step. Not keeping myself hidden and quiet due to shame in my marital status, due to fear of someone who doesn’t know me forming judgments. I am so much more than someone who is divorced. I am strong, I am brave, I am suffering and growing every day, maintaining a compassionate and gentle heart through it all.
I am changed, but I’m still me. And I’m still here. So here I write.