Anniversaries and New Beginnings
Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. It's not being celebrated as such because 8 weeks ago we signed divorce papers (still waiting for them to be processed, so we are still legally married). I haven't publicly said anything and I don't intend to change that. My life shouldn't be fodder for gossip and I don't owe anyone details. My personal story (or some version, true or otherwise) has been shared without my permission numerous times over the last 2 years under the guise of asking for prayers for me or us, spreading gossip and sowing discord under an umbrella of false virtue. I won't be adding to those narratives. I won't be speaking ill of the person whose name I shared for half of my life. Those types of words can never be erased and we have children. I care more about them than I ever could about my reputation or others' opinions of me.
Here's what I do know: marriage is between two people and two people only. There may be friends and family who have a connection to the individuals or the couple, but the only people truly involved are the couple themselves. Personal relationships are complex and nuanced and messy, just like people are. Nothing is ever black and white. In such an insular, intimate relationship like a marriage, there are countless stories being told--what happened, each person's interpretation of what happened, how years of experiences shaped their feelings and personalities, the stories they tell themselves to feel less guilt or shame, the stories they tell others to shore up their public image, maybe the revising of history to support current feelings, and on and on. Feeling confident that you know what is going on in someone else's relationship, whether that's because you've been around them or because you've been told by half of that couple equation, is simply foolish. I have been deeply wounded by such careless assertions over the last year in particular. One thing I've taken to heart and carry with me every day is the understanding that people are going to believe what they want to believe and it's not my job to convince them otherwise, both when it comes to a marriage that in no way involved them or who I am personally. I know the truth, I know who I am, I know where my value rests, and that's enough.
Close to a year ago, I wrote about having my foundation shaken as a writer (if you're not sure what I'm talking about, you can read it here). Truth be told, I haven't recovered. I haven't written or published anything since that happened. It may seem like I stopped writing because I agree that I write pornography and I'm therefore unworthy of friendship and community and calling myself a Christian. But I categorically deny all of the things that have been said about me. I don't want to let them "win." I don't want to have given in and given up something so important to me. That wasn't my intention. Some of it was that I needed that time to grieve, needed to start to heal, needed to let go of the hurt and anger, and wasn't in a good place to be creative. Then there was the reality of simply not having time--working overnights, taking a college course, then adding the training for and working that second job, I barely have enough time to sleep let alone write. This thing I love, that fulfills me, had to take a backseat as I tried to figure out how I was going to survive.
I don't know that I have the answers any more now than I did then, but I'm doing it anyway. I've received so much hate, passive aggression, and judgment. I know the assertion is that I'm supposed to feel shame and guilt for filing for divorce, for "ruining" my family, for destroying my kids' lives, and for being selfish. I'm going to be honest, I feel none of that, only relief. I can breathe, deeply and freely. I'm not depressed or battling constant debilitating anxiety. My body is no longer in survival mode. I'm only beginning to see the breadth of what I'm capable of. Nothing about this is easy and I continue to worry every day about my children, but that's my role as a mother regardless.
This is not the life I wanted. This isn't what I dreamed of. No one wants to start at square one, at 42, after giving up their entire life to raise a family and support someone else's career. But after all of the experiences leading up to this--especially how I've been talked about, how I've been treated, what has been said within hearing of and directly to my children, the actions that were completely contrary to what was being presented--I am confident that this was the right decision. I want my kids to know that their feelings matter, they matter. I never want them to feel that they are less-than because everyone has value except them and to even consider themselves or their own well-being is selfish and wrong.
I just want you to know I'm still here. I'm here and I'm anxious to get back to it. Everett's book is about 75% done. If you want to ask the romance muses to send a little inspiration and fire my way, I wouldn't complain. I miss writing. I miss the connection with my characters and their stories and my readers. I'm ready to feel like a writer again. I hope you can continue to be patient with me as I navigate this transition and my new reality.