This week I advanced through The Gap and crossed over to the large rock that marks the pinnacle of the divorce process: Mediation. Everything in the preceding months of gathering financial papers and consulting with attorneys and financial advisors leads to that point. It was an all day affair of meeting in one room of Zoom with my attorney, my husband and his attorney in the other, and the Mediator going between the rooms to help us move toward a settlement– or a financial agreement.
No matter how much you’ve been told what the day will be like, nothing prepares you for the grueling back-and-forth with professional people talking about the facts of your marriage. I knew that friends and family were praying that we’d arrive at the best possible outcome and be able to move forward with our lives. This assurance that they had my back in prayer was a huge comfort. At the end of the day we arrived at an settlement. I was exhausted– physically, mentally, and emotionally.
After being in my apartment all day, I needed to go for a drive in the country. I traveled familiar roads in Chatham county, crossing over Jordan Lake and going past farms and landmarks that have barely changed over time. I picked up an ice cream sundae for dinner and spent the rest of the night watching episodes of Anne with an E. Like I mentioned in last week’s post, that Netflix drama filmed on Prince Edward Island, Canada, appeals to me with the gorgeous location and the story based in the late 1800s.
For the rest of the week, I did only what I had to during the day, and at night I vegged out in front of the television–binge-watching Anne. I had no energy for calling or interacting with anyone save my son and grandson on the two days I care for him. I just felt like isolating myself. Some of the comments of Monday kept playing through my head, aspects of my marriage that I’ve grappled with many times before, back again for another round.
It was hard for me to believe that we’d finally crossed that hurdle that had been in the distance for so long. We arrived at a settlement. It’s done, I kept telling myself. I’d had to be so goal-focused for so long– cleaning out the house, gathering financial papers, putting the house on the market, finding an apartment, moving– that it was hard to believe I could relax. It occurred to me that it had a similar feeling to how it is during a family medical emergency–just taking the next step, staying strong, totally focused on the problem at hand– and then when it’s over– falling apart–because you finally can.
I write this– not to garner more empathy, or sympathy– not to belabor the divorce process, but to be honest about how complex going through this has been. I was ignorant about how difficult it is on so many levels. When others’ have divorced, I thought of it as a rational and legal decision. But now, I have some idea about the emotional pain as well as the demands to get through the legal process.
Now that I’m one of them— a person getting divorced, I’ve had many more conversations with others going through this. I realize that in the past, I was quick to make assumptions about why people were making that choice– from my limited perspective and superficial knowledge of the couple. After what I’ve experienced, I don’t readily make such simple assumptions.
None of us know the complexity of another person’s life; We’re not in their shoes. Whatever our lot, we all need for others to hold us gently in their judgements and give us the space for the grace we need.
I was talking with a family member about my week. I made the comment that I’d thought about people interviewed after they’d been through a traumatic event– how they’d say they needed some time away from others to rest, to recover.
“It’s like I’ve been through a trauma. I feel all I want to do is be by myself and rest,” I said.
The family member responded, “You have been through a trauma.”
Acknowledging that, allowing myself to just follow my energy about what I need right now has helped. I’m reminded that it’s part of the grief process for the mind and body to need time and space to heal.
Sitting on that big rock in that river of change, looking back at all those other rocks I’ve successfully crossed, is a reminder of how far I’ve come. I’ll need to sit here a while to gather the energy to make the final passage onto the bank of the other side– the place of New Beginnings.