Transitions

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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
-Mary Anne Radmacher

Sometimes there is no eloquent way to begin a story, especially when you already know the nature of its ending. And so I find myself today, at a loss for words when it comes to starting this tale. So I’ll just be blunt: My husband and I split up. Those closest to me had seen indications of a problem for quite some time, though they were unsure if we would continue along as we were, or make the momentous decision to go our separate ways. I say separate ways, purely in the figurative sense, as we all know that, once there are children involved in a marriage, the couple is bound to a common path indefinitely—and rightly so. More on that later…

I once read a quote that stated, “No one knows what goes on inside a marriage, except for the two people who are in it.’ But as I reflect upon the past 14 years spent with my ex-husband, I realize that sometimes, two people in a marriage can exsist side-by-side, and  still have wildly contrasting perceptions about the relationship. In the end, the dissolution of a marriage is almost always met with sadness and resistance from the friends and family surrounding the couple. I get the sense that people not only mourn the existence of the couple itself, but that each time they are faced with a divorce in their inner-circle, it forces them to look closely at their own relationships, and their beliefs about matrimony.

I know this because I’ve suddenly become privy to the confessions of countless people—friends and otherwise–as news of our break-up spreads. It’s as if my circumstance compels people to both offer and seek advice, sometimes in the same conversation. I don’t mind it, really, but it makes me realize that something bigger is at work here. That my decision to leave my marriage has stirred discomfort in those around me, as it brings to light the reality of every relationship. And that reality is this: beneath the surface of every intimacy, no matter how lovely the beginning or sweet the presentation, there lies the possibility of betrayal, hurt, and painful misunderstandings. Though I know how quickly the balance of a (seemingly) stable couple can be tipped, I am also still very much a firm believer in the power of love. If trust, understanding, mutual respect, and spiritual connection are present, a relationship can overcome great hurdles. Without those key components, there is much room for error.

When I was in labor with my 2nd son, one of the few memories I have of the intense transition stage was that my assigned nurse kept trying to get me to tell her my level of agony by using the faces pain rating scale. For those unfamiliar with this scale, it’s widely used in hospitals as a self-reporting measure of a patient’s pain intensity or other features. I suppose they are in place to help the hospital staff gauge a patients discomfort in an effort to adequately manage the pain. In my case, it really seemed the nurse was just trying to break me down every time she shoved the little happy faces into my space and asked, “NOW what level of pain are you feeling?” Because I am a private person, in terms of my struggles and discomfort, and because I believe in mind over matter when it comes to overcoming physical discomfort in labor, I continually reported to the nurse that I was feeling a level one happy face, while all the while it was really like a level 15 grimace/agony face. I knew that the second I admitted I was in excruciating pain, I would lose my composure altogether.

And so it was in my relationship during the past few years or more. On the surface, I held it together, occasionally confiding bits and pieces of my concerns to close family & friends. But my fear was that once I began to tell more, I would lose control of the situation all together. Underneath it all, there was serious discord on a day-to-day basis. In the end, I decided that the pain of staying far exceeded the discomfort of leaving. Our family is now adjusting to a new norm. But based on the overall sense of peace in the household since we split, I think I am prepared to gather the pieces of everything broken, and lay a new foundation for myself and my children…

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