Sarah Pescosolido realizes that because her life as she knew it has been shattered, she is now free to make it into something better.
I had a dream the other night:
I was trying unsuccessfully to glue something back together—probably my life. I had this glue that I was putting along the edge of the broken pieces, carefully aligning them to be re- stuck, but as meticulously as I tried, I couldn’t get the pieces to stay together. The glue just wouldn’t hold.
Then I awoke, feeling defeated.
I am recently divorced, and even more recently unemployed. It’s been a difficult year; I’ve found myself feeling very alone in facing life’s challenges.
As much as these life changes were inevitable and crucial to my growth, I’ve been hurt along the way. We become used to our confinements, and our captors serve to shield us from our deeper fears. Ending my marriage, stepping over my fear of being incapable of living my own life, has left me vulnerable and exposed. Freeing and frightening, sometimes it’s felt as if I’m tearing off my own skin.
I look around me and see happy families and happy couples. Couples smiling and holding hands, cherishing their time together. Financially, I can take care of myself, but for the first time in my life I’m responsible for someone else as well—my 2 children. I struggle through bill paying alone and worried; holiday shopping and scheduling a burden from which I wish I could hide. I reach to an unknown source for patience to help my daughters through their own emotional melt-downs over this division in our family.
And yet, I look around me in my apartment and everything I see is of my own design. My modest pieces of furniture; my artwork on the walls; my decision whether or not to hang curtains over each of my cherished windows … For better or for worse, I needed to fight my way here in order to appreciate my own value.
Not that there’s anything wrong with compromise; it’s just that in my marriage, I was always fighting to be noticed, hoping if I did more of what he asked he might show me some affection. Becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t enough. Making baby food from scratch while nursing 2 babies; providing the children with a safe, loving, nurturing, intellectually stimulating, television-free environment 24/7 wasn’t enough. Keeping myself in shape, letting him know I wanted us to have a great relationship with little notes or special treats wasn’t enough to reach beyond his façade of perfection.
I used to have 2 cats, Haley and Zilla. I had them for several years before we got married, and I should have known from the start that he wouldn’t take to them by the way he avoided interacting with them. Once we had 2 babies and life became more hectic, his disdain toward the cats became pronounced. He insisted he liked the cats, but I would catch him throwing shoes at the cats or even trying to kick them or injure them in other ways. The cats, in turn, became terrified of him. The physical abuse escalated until I couldn’t stand it any more; in the face of his continued refusal to admit there was anything wrong or even unusual about his behavior, I tearfully gave Haley and Zilla up. As much as it broke my heart, I did so with the heart-felt prayer that in letting go of something cherished, I would be making room for something greater—a deeper love in our relationship.
He never acknowledged any of it; the truth is, there was no “enough.” No amount of sacrifice or pleading could persuade the man to open his heart.
Eventually I had to give up the illusion of security in order to open myself to the possibility of a better life.
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” Chuck Palahniuk ~ Fight Club
The numbing comfort of a cold, distant, dispassionate marriage kept me chained to an idea that I “had something”—the pretty house with plants for me to tend; the kitchen with plenty of counter space for me to prepare meals we would never eat together; the spacious bedroom where I could remain safely tucked away, isolated and hidden so no one would know I was alone.
The couch for him, the bed for me; there was a stability in the absence of touch.
I traded those certainties for new treasures: my children’s laughter, smiling friends, solace found in a meaningful embrace, a balcony – tiny as it maybe – overlooking the river. I am the queen of this world I’ve created.
It’s not easy to be in a place of uncertainty in life … I have a desire to “skip to the good stuff” (i.e. a place in life where my career is moving steadily forward, and I’m in a loving relationship …) But I think it’s the combination of finding the “good stuff” along my journey and the inner strength I’m building through these challenges that makes me appreciate the really good stuff. Meanwhile, the empty feeling of the loss of my marriage becomes merely an empty frame. With time and care I can piece together my treasures … reframing my life instead of trying to glue the pieces back together. Because my life as I knew it has been shattered, I’m now free to make it into something better—a mosaic picture within my new frame, no longer empty, but rich with passions I’m now free to shine.
At least that’s my hope …