Today is my fifth wedding anniversary. Only, I’m in the end stages of divorce.
(I think it’s funny how I call it “the end stages,” like it’s a cancer or something. But that’s not how I feel at all. Funny how we’re so very dramatic about relationships ending.)
Oddly enough, I write to you from Grand Marais, a scenic small town on the north shore of Minnesota, the place where my soon-to-be ex-husband and I spent our honeymoon together. Only now, I’m here with my lover to manage a small hotel while we work on our respective crafts. (him on music, me on writing.)
One of my very favorite dream teachers, Robert Moss, often says, “Life rhymes.” I’m feeling that deeply, as here, on the powerful shores of Lake Superior, I see time crossing over itself, presenting old and new patterns interwoven, and watching how it all connects in surprising ways.
There is so much grief, and also so much joy.
I know that the end of a marriage that started so purely, and with so much love, is a tragic thing. But I also know that when a relationship ends, it’s because one or both people grew so much that the relationship was no longer a suitable container for them. And in that way, the ending of a relationship is a positive thing, a herald of exciting things to come.
People like to apologize when they hear about my divorce. Or they want to rally on my side, demonizing my husband. Or judge me for giving up.
But the truth of the matter is that none of these things are how it really is.
I loved my husband. I still love him. And I’ll always love him. For better or worse, whether we’re legally married or not, he’s my family. We didn’t end our marriage because we didn’t love eachother.
The ironic thing is that if it wasn’t for him and his love, I wouldn’t be the person who needed to move on from the marriage. He gave me so much support and so much space for me to explore myself, and discover the things about myself I’d buried for so long or had never realized at all.
The more he allowed me to empower myself without judgment, the more I transformed into
someone much louder,
someone much more raw,
someone much darker,
someone who took up so much more space,
and someone who was no longer a good wife for him.
His triggers triggered my triggers, and in that way, we were soul mates. We fit together like puzzle pieces in a beautiful shadow relationship that revealed to us our truer selves. And though there were fights and unkind words on both ends at times, I know that at the core of it, we are both grateful for our time together.
I grieve the loss of my family. I grieve the loss of my home. I grieve the loss of inside jokes, nacho & movie nights, and the shared laughs over the neurotic antics of our dog.
That’s how grief goes though, doesn’t it? Even if we know it’s the right thing to do, and even if there were things we were ready to let go of, we still grieve the loss of them. The wife dies unto herself. The husband dies unto himself. The family dissolves, existing only as photos in an album of the beautiful wedding you’re still proud of.
A marriage cannot be a failure if it was created in love. A marriage cannot be a failure if both people want the best for themselves and for the other person. A marriage cannot be a failure if it has taught you more about yourself than any other relationship could.
And so today, I am grateful for my failed marriage. For everything it meant to me and everything it taught me. For all the love and safety it provided me. For the man I will always want the best for. And for the woman I became because of it.