Tag Archives: divorce

life after death

This past week, had I stayed married to my first husband, I would’ve celebrated my silver wedding anniversary – 25 years.  Twenty five years ago I was a young, confused woman who desperately wanted to love someone and have someone love me.  I was coming out of a major depression that required two hospitalizations in the space of four years.  I was dealing with the sources of my depression but only scratching the surface.  I was living on my own, and while I was overjoyed to be out of my parents’ house and independent, I was lonely.

I got involved quickly and deeply with a man who treated me well and who made me laugh.  I won’t go into the details of our relationship, except to say that within a year we were engaged, and after a short engagement we got married.  It was probably a bad sign that as our friends and families were leaving the wedding reception and I was faced with going on my honeymoon, I broke down in tears.  At the time I chalked it up to nerves, not about the wedding night, but to the release of all the energy and stress of the planning of that monumental day.  Looking back I also think the tears came from realizing “forever” was in front of me with this man, and knowing on some unconscious level that I had made a terrible mistake.

Our relationship disintegrated VERY quickly.  Again, I won’t go into details.  I could play the blame game and point fingers at him for certain behaviors and hurts – but I could also point the finger at myself for rushing into the marriage, thinking it would be magical and salvific, for wanting so badly to be in love, that I mistook that want for love itself. 

But wanting to be in love, and really being in love are NOT the same thing.

As quickly as we came together we fell apart.  Feelings of failure and shame consumed me.  As a person of faith I didn’t believe that I should be able to throw away a covenant I had made as casually as I could a dress out of fashion.  I had made a commitment, “till death do us part,” but I could not keep it without killing myself in the process.  I did not love this man.  He wasn’t a bad person, we were just completely incompatible and I was miserable.  All the progress I had made on my emotional well-being was at stake.

Divorce.  It grieved me.  Divorce is a death.  It is the death of a relationship and it deserves a time of grief.  Luckily I had a very good relationship with my pastor, and his support was vital.  He spoke serious words that pushed me to profound reflection on my shortcomings, kind words of God’s grace that lifted me up from despair, and encouraging words that gave me hope for the future.  And there was a future.

When I had come to the point in my personal growth that I was content to live my life alone, I met the man I would marry, the man I have now been with for nineteen years, with whom I have three beautiful amazing children.  There is always hope for the future.

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My love…

The other day after posting about my recent vacation, a twitter friend responded that I should write something “good” about my husband for a change.  This friend said I had the “he irritates me” thing covered.  Really?  Is that the impression I give all of you about the totality of my feelings for a man I’ve been with for 20 years?  OUCH.

Perhaps it’s because I tend to write when I’m upset or angry or needing to vent or pondering my life’s truths.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t written much about him aside from a comment here or there since he’s very private and doesn’t like me sharing too many details of himself.  I also write about things I’m still trying to process, like motherhood, or autism, or faith – not that I have marriage all figured out BELIEVE ME but since writing about marital “stuff” might mean sharing things about him (which he doesn’t like), I’ve been staying away from that topic pretty much.

So, let’s call this post a tribute to my wonderful, loving, sensitive, amazing, handsome hard working hubby!

We met when I was beginning to come out of a bad depressive fog.  After my divorce I went through some serious soul-searching, one clumsy attempt at a relationship, and another relationship that everyone around me agreed had been a bad idea.  This was the totality of my romantic involvement in the FOUR years since my divorce – one almost boyfriend, and one not-so-good boyfriend.  I had finally gotten to the point in my life, thanks to a lot of therapy, where I felt that if I never found “that special someone,” if I never got married again, I would be ok.  I was starting to like myself.  I was content to be alone.  Then HE came along.

I was determined to take it slow, after all I wasn’t even looking for a relationship.  But pretty soon it was clear that this relationship was more than casual.  It felt BIG.  Very BIG.  And we were tested.  I should say, HE was tested.  I came with baggage.  I had been divorced.  I grew up in an abusive home.  I was on medication and in therapy.  And I was well on the way to being stalked, which eventually became scary for the both of us (I wrote about that here if you’re interested).  Being with me was no walk in the park.  But his patience and desire to learn about my experiences and be supportive knew no bounds.  What man reads a book his girlfriend’s therapist recommends to her, so he can learn and understand what his girlfriend is going through?  A wonderful man, that’s who.

That was our beginning.  And for 20 years we have been with each other through thick and thin.  I’m not saying we haven’t hit bumps in the road.  I’m not saying our relationship is perfect (there is NO such thing).  I’m not saying we never irritate each other (you hear my side of things, but Lord knows I irritate him too!).  What I am saying is that we have a love that recognizes the faults in each other, even speaks them – a love that exists WITH the faults.  Are there things I wish I could change about him?  Heck yes.  Are there things he wishes he could change about me?  Oh, most certainly.  But we DON’T try to change each other, to make the other into an image that we would create for them, except when health or safety is involved (an example of this was a few years ago when I was in another major depression and he said “Enough. You need to find a doctor and get help.”).  We also don’t feel compelled to do everything together.  I don’t like sailing.  He doesn’t like social media.  Yet he is free to go sailing, and I am free to enjoy my internet friends.  He has never tried to force sailing on me, and I would never force Facebook or Twitter or this blog on him.  He does his thing and I do mine, and we’re ok with that.

On our last day at the beach we had to situate ourselves next to a young couple (it was the only spot big enough for all of us that was near the lifeguards and close to the water –  two non-negotiables for me at the beach).  She tenderly rubbed sunscreen on his back, and he longingly moved hair away from her face.  They giggled and stroked one another and held hands. For a few brief moments I wished hub and I were back in that place again.  But I quickly snapped back to reality.  It’s nice to have the passion that comes with youth and a new relationship, but I like the place hub and I are in SO much better.  The shared history, the comfort of knowing (for the most part) what the other is thinking or feeling, the security of knowing each other’s flaws and shortcomings and loving one another in spite of them, and sometimes because of them.  My love has seen my worst and he is still around.  Even after birthing three children and how that’s “changed” my body, he looks at me and still wants me.  He thinks those changes are wonderful.  He thinks I’m beautiful, even when I don’t believe it myself.  And as we age together he is still one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen.

So he may be irritating.  He might annoy the heck out of me sometimes.  We still have fights – sometimes awful fights.  Thankfully though, our fights are few and far between because mostly we are able to talk things out.  He is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, loyal to a fault.  He is affectionate, caring, passionate, always worried about those he loves, and strives to find the best in people.  I am so grateful he is in my life.

IMG_2432We’ve been together for 20 years, and I pray another 20+ years more.

 

the “God” thing

I love my children.  I love my husband.  But even before I loved them there was something else I loved, and that was sharing GOD’S love with people.

I was married when I was 23, a marriage that lasted only a year – there was no magic wand waved over us when we took our vows, no cure-all t0 fix the growing divide that started even the day our vows were taken.  A big wedding and a pastoral pronouncement do not make a marriage.

When my marriage dissolved I went into a serious soul-searching phase.  I returned again and again to the feeling I had of a call to pastoral ministry, a call I tried to bury deep, because after barely surviving 4 years of college to get my bachelor’s degree, I did NOT want to go four more years for a Master of Divinity.  But I belong to a major denomination, and to be considered for ordination, I would have to get this 4yr Masters.  So I buried my call, got a job in the social work field (where I have my Bachelor’s degree), and got about my new independent life.  I fell in love and got married.  But it fell apart.

In the soul-searching and in conversations with my pastor, conversations of forgiveness and compassion, he encouraged me to return to this sense of call, to see where it would take me.  I was hesitant, but he was insistent.  “You don’t want to get towards the end of your life and wonder, ‘what if?’  If you try, and fail, at least you know you tried.  If you try and succeed, well then, wonderful!”  How could I say no to that?  So, newly single (and thank God with no children from this marriage) I quit my job, packed up my life and moved to a new city to go back to school.

I started going to church when I was in high school.  I had had such a tough time in my family of origin and in school.   My father was an alcoholic.  My mother was a classic enabler and HUGE into denial.  We moved when I was 12 and I was shy, so the kids in the new school thought I was snotty, and I was picked on brutally.

Church became a refuge for me.  A place where I could go and feel taken care of.  The pastor proclaimed the gospel – that despite what I had done in my life, despite what was done to me, despite my bad feelings about myself and my failures – GOD LOVED ME just the way I was.  I immersed myself in my congregation, joined the youth group, the choir, played guitar.

Certainly church wasn’t perfect.  It can’t be.  It’s filled with sinners.  But I felt loved there, and wanted other people to experience that love too.  I wanted to preach.

So after my divorce I started seminary.  Three years of coursework in addition to serving a few hours per week in a congregation, and then one year of full-time internship.  Along the way the depression I battled on and off since my early teens reared it’s ugly head, and I found myself back in therapy and on medication.  But both things, as well as an incredibly supportive seminary community helped me stay on track.  And in my last year of seminary I met an amazing guy, a year younger than me, and two years behind me at school, who would become my husband (of almost 19 years now).

I’ve also been ordained almost 19 years now, and the thing I love most of all about pastoral ministry is what I got to do this morning – share the love of God with people.  I do not proclaim a God who sets all kinds of rules, a God who welcomes some and shuns others; the God I know in Jesus loves each and every one of us more deeply than we could ever imagine.  He is for YOU and me.  There is no one beyond Jesus’ reach.  No one he doesn’t love.  No one he didn’t die for.  You don’t have to be good enough – NO ONE is good enough.  What a tremendous message that is.  A message that sometimes gets drowned out by the loud voices of religious intolerance, and that grieves me.

I don’t know your religious affiliation, if you have any.  I’m not here to judge.  I’m not here to convert anyone.  This is just where I’m coming from, and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope whatever your faith, or lack of it, that you have some guiding principle or belief which helps ground you and build you up in the crazy world we live in.  For me it’s Jesus.