I too could do nothing. I could not step in and take over. Instead, I was silently cheering them on. I was silently weeping. Sobbing. But I can testify that there is hope. It will get better. I know it will, as my beautiful daughter taught me that lesson. I'm sorry she had to teach me that lesson through her own trials, through her own refiner's fire. I pray her example and her experience will help others who have a difficult journey to travel.
Here is her story:
Will It Get Better?
If I’m being honest with you, I've been staring at a blank Microsoft Word page for about an hour now, wondering where to even begin. How do you summarize three years of your life that, until now, you haven’t really talked about?
I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
I married a man who I still consider to be one of the gentlest, sweetest human beings I have ever met. However, right off the bat, there were certain things that happened that hurt me pretty severely.
I feel that it’s fair for you to get this warning; if you’re here for details, prepare to be disappointed. I still care about him, and I believe that he still cares for me. I think I’ll always consider him a best friend that hurt me, and I him. Because of this, I don’t want to say anything that would make anybody see him differently. We have kept the reasons for our divorce very tightly locked down, and would like to keep it that way.
I was in denial for a really long time. I felt in a lot of ways that I was strapped to an anchor headed for the bottom of the ocean, with no way to escape. When I’m trying to help people understand this part of my life, I always find myself wishing that I could help them feel how I felt. There’s really no way to understand, other than to go through it yourself. And maybe that’s a cop-out. If I were to try to describe it, I would say that it felt very dark – very heavy. Very, very lonely.
I kept loved ones out because I didn't want them to see how miserable I was. I put on a show that everything was okay, thinking that I was protecting everybody that I loved. But the strange thing about pretending to be something you’re not is that you eventually lose who you are. Well, not really. But who you are gets buried pretty deep.
It wasn't until this past summer that I finally told my family what was happening. Breaking my mother’s heart was probably the hardest part of this entire experience. After I told her the truth, I didn't eat for a month, but neither did she. Maybe that’s what mothers are for… to feel right beside their children. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay her for the pain that she went through to help me.
It’s kind of hard to write what I felt back then at this point in my life because – thankfully – I don’t feel that way anymore. My healing process has been remarkably fast, and I attribute that to all of the familial support I've had. Luckily, I kept a journal religiously throughout the entire process. The first entry in my journal, right after I had told my family and was trying to figure out what to do, I asked four questions. They were:
1 1.) Who am I? How do I find myself again?
2 2.) What should I do about my marriage? Stay? Go?
3 3.) How do I go down this road without hurting everyone that I love?
4 4.) Will it get better?
Every time I re-read this entry, the last question always breaks my heart a little bit. It makes me remember just how much I didn't think it would get better. I felt so stuck and alone. I felt like such a burden to everybody that loved me. I couldn't even imagine an outcome where my life got better.
And for a long time, it didn't. Day by day, nothing seemed to change. But family members sent loving notes, and friends said encouraging things, and little by little, I started to feel like myself again.
It’s easy for me to see the change in my journal entries. The following is an excerpt from my journal, written when I didn't feel quite myself yet, but I was finally starting to trust myself:
“The beginning of today was rough. I couldn't get myself to eat much for breakfast. I kept thinking about how my divorce will alter people’s perception of me. Even if I tell them everything, it’s only words. I wish there was a way to make people feel the hopelessness I felt for the duration of my marriage, the grief I feel now. I desperately need empathy, not sympathy. I didn't start feeling better until my dad took me out on his motorcycle. It was so thrilling to drive with him on the highway. It was scary not being able to see the whole road as I lay my head on my dad’s shoulder. If I thought too much about becoming road jam, I would have to close my eyes. At one point, I kept my eyes closed for several minutes, but not because I was scared. I realized how much I trusted my dad and how safe I felt with him driving. I suppose in a loose way, this relates to my current situation. I often feel so scared. Scared of becoming metaphorical road jam. I often doubt myself and wonder if I’m making a mess out of my life, but I need to learn to trust myself and trust the answer to my prayers. I need to realize that it’s okay to shut my eyes now and then since my Heavenly Father is at the wheel. Nothing should put me more at ease.”
Divorce is a difficult thing to talk about, and I often find myself feeling like I need to whisper when talking about my experiences. It’s hard because it’s a grief like mourning death, but it feels like you’re not supposed to talk about it. I've reached a point where I’m happy with who I am, and I don’t think I would be the same if I never went through the last 3 years. I don’t think I’ll ever openly talk about it – this blog post is probably the closest I’ll get – but I hope that one day, I can be an empathetic ear to someone going through the same thing.
The following comes from the very last page of my journal:
“I am increasingly stressed about coming to the last page of my journal, and feel like I should do some reminiscent pondering. I feel like I have come a long way. My mom mentioned that I’m now starting to have good days, rather than good moments. She’s completely right. Sometimes it’s so hard to see how far you've come. All you can do is take life day by day, and day to day, not a whole lot changes. They say that time heals all wounds, and I think they’re right, but it can often be a slow type of healing. I still have my bad days. Some days are so hard that I actually think of it as a miracle that I made it out of bed. But I did. But I do. I make it out of bed, and sometimes those bad days end up meaning more than the good, because they prove to myself that I can survive. I read my first journal entry yesterday, and started crying when I read my sincere question; ‘will it get better?’ It hurt because I remember how much it felt like things wouldn't get better. I remember thinking that things shouldn't get better and that I deserved to be miserable. I know better now, and I wish I could go back and tell myself that yes… it does get better. It takes an excruciatingly long time, but the pain starts to fade. The self-loathing and self-punishment will eventually turn to self-acceptance. As for what comes next? I wish I knew. Probably another journal full of heartbreaks and triumphs. But that’s life. Isn't it?”
The pain has diminished even more since I wrote that. I hardly think about my past anymore, because my present is so happy. I’m so grateful for my family, for little loving notes, for scary motorcycle rides, for friends who remind me who I always was, and for second chances. I even think I’m grateful for the last three years, because I wouldn't be the same without them. And most of all, I’m grateful to know that it does get better – especially when it feels like it won’t.