Over There, Where It's Better, But Not Really
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October 19, 2012 - Updated October 05, 2013

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One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton of Momastery, announced on October 16th that she and her husband Craig are separating.

If you don't know Momastery, you should. Glennon is sort of a hybrid of Oprah and Anne Lamott. She is open about her personal demons because she feels that speaking one's truth heals -- and by doing so, she gives permission for her readers to do the same.

In her neo-gospel, but completely endearing and authentic way, she invites her multitude of readers -- aka Monkees -- to raise large sums of money, often in a matter of hours, to help women in need. Her entire mission is to create a community of women who take care of each other. Her first book is about to be published, and I believe a movie is in the works.

I am frequently moved to tears when I read her posts, especially when she announces that her Monkees raised tuition money for children of a single mom with cancer, or sent the family of a dying mother on their first vacation. She is so genuinely attuned to each reader's struggles and so tenacious in her efforts to aid others that you can't help but adore her even though she is ridiculously gorgeous with the best body ever.

Glennon's husband is dark and handsome. Their three children are adorable. She is surrounded by a close-knit intact family who supported her through years of florid addiction to food, booze, pills, and "bad love."

When she got pregnant unexpectedly, she became clean and sober overnight, found Jesus, and married her babydaddy Craig, with whom she went on to have two more children and a seemingly idyllic life despite Lyme Disease, adoption disappointments, and mood issues that often accompany creative types. As recently as September 2012 Glennon credited Craig with being the "only human being who could have healed me."

And then came The News. The News that she delivered with grace and dignity. That her husband revealed he had been keeping a secret since the beginning of their marriage and they were living apart. Although she was elegantly vague, it appears that Craig is at a treatment center, and she is with their kids. It also appears that she feels she and her husband will work through their issues and remain a family.

I have to admit that the first time I read her blog, I felt envious and deeply, pang-ingly sad. Envious for the obvious reasons -- "perfect" in tact family; mega-successful blogger -- and sad for what might have been.

When I was in college, I had many of the issues Glennon had. I wasn't addicted to pills or booze, but certainly to food and "bad love." I always looked like things were fine. And my family wanted things to be fine. My family needed things to be fine because my mother developed chronic health problems that consumed my parents' energy and money. My birthmother and I went through years of post-reunion estrangement. My older sister was engrossed in child-rearing.

When I read Glennon's story, I wished that I had had family available to support me in dealing with my demons. That's the part that made me sad -- that I stumbled through my problems largely on my own, like a lost little satellite spinning through space.

I went to therapy. I read self-help books. I went to a 12-step group half-assedly, never worked the steps. I moved across the country. I changed relationships frequently. I gave all my power away to a man, and a family, whom I believed had the answers. Because I thought if I did this, my life would be fine.

Except that it wasn't.

In one of her posts, Glennon likens addiction to chronic leaving. Meaning when addicts bump up against hard feelings or situations, they leave. They head off in the direction of greener grass. And we all know what happens when they get there. Sooner or later the grass isn't greener. It's just different grass.

I spent so much of my life fantasizing about what lay over there, and then running to find it.

When I was a confused teenager, I spent every day wondering about the mother who had relinquished me, and thinking life would be better if I were with her.

Then I met her. And after an initial high, I found that life wasn't any better, just more complicated.

When I went to college, I felt like I belonged for the first time in my life. But, inexplicably, I convinced myself I would belong better at another school. So I said goodbye to good people and transferred to a university that didn't suit me.

And I was miserable.

After college, I moved across the country, thinking life would be better over there. And in some ways it was. It was fun, big fun. I met my first husband, who was the king of big fun. With him, I learned to I fold my pesky issues into Origami swans, and hide them in my pockets.

I left that marriage for many good reasons, but one that wasn't so good: the conviction that things would be better over there. I would be more myself over there. I suppose, in the process of going through an over there that was more horrific than I thought possible, I have become more myself.

Because so much was stripped away. The patina of "fine" melted away. I came smack up against problems from which I couldn't run, and I have spent the past few years trying to resolve them.

Pema Chodron says "things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.”  I think of that often, on those days when one post-divorce issue has been laid to rest, only to have a new one raise its thorny head.

I thought of that quote when I read the news about Glennon and her husband. I thought that we are never really done with our addictions. That keeping them in check is a lifelong process.

It's the keeping-in-check that grows us up, I think. The grind of riding out hard feelings, facing stone-cold reality when things don't work out the way we'd planned.

But, can I tell you? Some days, it is really a drag not to be able to run over there anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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