Yes…I’m alive! I’ve been away for several weeks, alternately running like a lunatic trying to keep up with life, and then having time and not being able to write. I just sit in front of my computer and wonder what happened to all of those interesting things that skittered across my brain during the day. It all just evaporated, right into thin air.
I had no intention of blogging today, but I read a blog post of a close friend who is going through divorce, and it inspired me to write about something that I hadn’t thought of in a long time. Her comments reminded me of something I felt, similarly to what she’s going through now, when I was just beginning to go through the same process two years ago. She described how she felt like she was in fast-rising, deep water…feeling overwhelmed. Here is the picture she posted as an illustration. I found it interesting for a couple of reasons, but I’ll get to that later:
I remember very well when I discovered my husband had cheated on me and then decided to leave me and the boys to be with her, rather than try to work things out, I felt like I was literally in over my head. I guess I really was…I had no idea what to do, how to deal with him, how to help the boys get through it, or what the future held. I remember very clearly waking up many mornings immediately after the initial blow and wondering what the point to breathing really was. It was probably the most demoralizing thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life.
Something I discovered after a month’s worth of flailing about was that life is a lot like swimming. I remember very well taking swimming lessons as a kid, and having a hard time with it. I really didn’t believe that I was going to just float in the water as effortlessly as the other kids did. My disbelief was the whole problem. I don’t exactly remember when I made the cross over from disbelief to swimming like a fish, but once I realized the water would hold me up if just let it, swimming got a lot easier.
Getting through divorce is so much harder than learning how to swim for a few reasons. For one, it’s not just you that you have to keep afloat when there are children involved. Secondly, a pool is a pretty well-defined area where you can see to the bottom. Getting divorced, especially at the beginning, feels a lot like having to tread water in the ocean, where you can barely see land. And, if you’ve never done it before, the navigation of it is a bitch. How do you get to your destination when you have no map, and no idea what the landmarks you need to find look like? How do you know when it’s done, or does this hell go on forever?
Just like when I was learning how to swim, I can’t remember exactly when I let go and realized that I wouldn’t die if I just believed that everything would be OK. I do remember discovering that making small plans for every contingency gave me a measure of a feeling of security. Each and every single time I made a plan, or found a way to make things the tiniest little bit more stable, it gave me a little more hope that I would survive. I hung on to that hope, clung to it with everything I had. The alternative, hopelessness, was nothing I wanted to revisit.
Once my (then) husband moved out, after four months of having to endure him living in the house after I caught him with the other woman, the air suddenly cleared and I could breath again. The oppressive atmosphere evaporated and, while I was still left with a lot of uncertainty, I finally felt like I made it a long way closer to shore. I was no longer flailing about in the ocean looking to find purchase on a whatever sand bar or rock I could find. After that long, awful summer, I was finally standing up in the water, walking towards shore. I might still be in neck-deep, but the end was in sight. I had a lot of hope that things would be OK after that.
Even though I felt better immediately after he finally left, it was a pretty horrible year for both of the kids and I. There were a lot of financial issues, and I was still reeling from having been dumped out of a 17-year marriage without so much as a heads up or an apology. Two years have gone by since the initial shock of discovery, and I’m still angry…but I feel more pity for him than anger a lot of days now. However, after all of that, I’m still standing, and so are the kids. We survived, and we’re doing well. I still have a lot of hope that things will get even better.
Another thing I learned while surviving divorce is how to spin something bad until I’m blowing sunshine out of my backside. No kidding…I am a full-fledged subscriber to the “Fake-It-‘Till-You-Make-It” theory of thinking. Even on days when I could barely hold my head up for feeling lost, when people asked me how I was, I would tell them “Good”, or “Fabulous” and do my best to mean it. I did my best to count up all the blessings I could find, even the smallest things count. There were many days were there weren’t enough blessings to tip the balance and allow me to feel half-way decent, but a lot of days I could dredge up enough good things to ponder on that would give me some hope to float up with. It takes some practice, but it works.
Back to the picture my friend posted on her blog. At first glance it appears that the woman is in deep water, all alone. But, if you take a closer look at it, you see that the water is crystal clear and well-lit, and you can see all the way to the bottom. Not only that, but her face has broken the water and she’s breathing without difficulty. She’s in a prone position suggesting that she’s relaxed and is moving as though taking a long relaxed swim in the morning sun…if she were struggling, the water would be frothy and broken with her movements. The woman in this picture is purposeful in her motions, has confidence in the water to hold her up, and is not alone… she’s just taking time for herself. The peace of this picture is really striking and inspiring to me. It’s my fondest hope that my friend sees the peacefulness in this picture, and can find peace for herself after long time of not having had any.
Have you ever seen the movie, Hope Floats, starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr.? If you haven’t, give it a look-see. For those of you who are struggling through bad times, hope really does float, so grab on tight, rise to the surface and take a deep breath. It might not seem like it now, but everything will be OK.