“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” – Henry Rollins
As someone who has written about divorce and single parenting for nearly the past 18 months – about the process, the highs, the lows, about the self-discovery that comes from transitioning into a new phase of life in middle age – I have been struggling in recent weeks to collect my thoughts into yet another coherent essay that best describes my present state of mind a little more than three years after my husband announced he was leaving me.
I have made many attempts, crafted countless essays, only to leave them unfinished, collecting dust, if you will, in a computer file that I will revisit one day in the future, or perhaps never at all again. An article detailing a humorous dating story, a retelling of a spat with my ex husband over our different parenting styles, a rehashing of the pain I endured as he extricated himself from our life together. Yet, for whatever reason, I have been experiencing trouble assigning personal significance to these once familiar anecdotes, as I used to be able.
Up until now my writing has been synonymous with my healing or, more accurately, the storm that has been raging inside me. Long periods of turbulence surrounded by shorter periods of calm, each of which grew inversely proportional to the other as time went on until, finally, that period of turbulence became nothing more than a distant memory even though time wise that distance has not been so vast.
It is an odd sensation, the knowing that I am now strong enough to leave the pain of my marriage’s end behind. All of the heartache, the hurt, and the confusion, as I spent years struggling to solidify my new role and identity as a divorced single mother and, more importantly, as the strong, independent woman I did not always believe I could be. All of it, it’s now gone. Today I am able to wrap it up, put it in a safe place, and move along on my path without always carrying such a heavy burden with me.
That is not to say I will ever be clear of the scars my divorce has left behind. Rather, only free of its shackles. I embrace the fact that I am forever changed – and for the better. There have been no mistakes along the way, only lessons to be learned and self-realization to be embraced.
The turning point for me came last week when a close friend of mine admitted to withholding from me information she knew about my ex-husband. Nearly one year ago she learned he attempted to do something that, had it come to pass, would have been, at a minimum, uncomfortable for myself and for my children, though I am fairly certain that was not his immediate intention and, more likely, a consequence of my ex-husband trying to satisfy his own needs.
Not sure at the time if she should tell me about it or not, my friend asked both her mother (who knows me) and another mutual friend of ours for their advice. My friend’s mother opined that my knowing would serve no end (at least, not a good one), while our mutual friend argued I should immediately be told.
I was not.
As I listened to my friend relay this information nearly 10 months after she first learned it, I could feel my blood pressure beginning to rise. My immediate inclination was to be angry. Not only at my ex-husband, but also at my friend for taking it upon herself to determine what was best for me. The problem was, I really was not all that annoyed. Yet I played the part – well, I would like to think – because, initially, I believed that is what my response should have been.
I remained calm as my friend justified her decision, listening to her explain, and rightfully so, that what my ex was attempting to do was not something I could control. Nor was it something I could have prevented. Knowing about it could have only served to further weaken an already fragile relationship, one that we needed to strengthen for the benefit of our children. She thought there no advantage to rubbing salt in an already deep wound.
In the midst of my divorce, as well as in its immediate aftermath, I would have likely gotten into an argument with my friend over how I believed she betrayed me, as well as with our other mutual friend for keeping this secret, even though it was not hers to reveal. Next, I would have, in a fit of anger, picked up the phone and called my ex-husband out on his behavior at once.
Not this time.
Instead, I politely ended the conversation and kept what I had learned to myself. Yes, I did speak with my ex later that evening, but not about what I was told. In fact, I am not certain if I will ever bring up the topic because, first, it never came to fruition and, second, doing so will only incite hostility. But it is perhaps my third, and final, reason for remaining silent that makes my decision most compelling – I am actually not bothered by what he did.
Which got me to thinking: Have I finally moved beyond my divorce?
Undeniably, my divorce left me injured. But slowly, ever so slowly, I healed. In fact, you can, too. Though I will forever bear my scars, I am humbled my wound was not a mortal one. And that is the inherent beauty of the human condition. Personal closure can come only when we acknowledge and accept such truth. After three years, I finally have.
How have you gone about moving on from your past relationships?