For the Newly Divorced at the Entrance to the Tunnel
It’s long and dark. I’ll walk with you.
It’s been a year and a half since the demise of my marriage. It was like a meteor flying at me, going slowly at first then hurdling fast until it hit the ground in a fiery ball. Dust flew everywhere. Land was scorched. And all I could do was stare at it.
People will tell you things will get better. It’s okay to hate them for this. A friend of mine was telling a story about how a boss, who had been there, tried to comfort my friend through her divorce. Eventually, my friend had enough, “If you tell me everything will be okay one more time I’m going to punch you in the face.“
I’m going to make you want to punch me in the face right now.
Before that happens, I’m going to tell you that “okay” is not right now. That is for later. Right now is a long, dark tunnel.
Please don’t worry what people think of you.
I feared one question. It wasn’t asking about what happened. It was people asking how I was doing. It happened again and again. My defense against it was that I lied. I flat out lied to everyone.
“I’m good! I’m good.”
It was my stock answer when anyone asked. People asked like they were asking what I had for lunch. We all know that no one really wants to hear an answer beyond “I’m good” any more than we want to give it. But the answer is there like a rotten piece of fruit ready to hit the ground with a hollow thud.
You. Are. Not. Good.
I couldn’t find good if I had a GPS device engineered by NASA. I was a vitriolic mass of rage and self loathing. I wanted to break things into a million little pieces and burn everything down to the ground.
I was depressed and angry and lonely and weak and exhausted. I was so afraid to tell anyone that I felt irreparably broken deep down in places I couldn’t even reach because I was sure they’d think I was crazy.
You. Are. Not. Crazy.
Tell people how you are. Be honest. Their level of comfort with your feelings is not your concern. Your feelings are your concern. People will surprise you. People that love you will pull you in close. They will appreciate your honesty. They will recognize that you are just doing time on an island called Owning One’s Horrible Shit. It’s temporary.
Please let yourself fall apart.
You will be a ball of rage. Some days you won’t know why. It doesn’t matter why. It’s not about the rage. It’s about you. You are going to want to lie down and sleep for a very long time. Do it.
You need to fall apart. You don’t need anyone’s permission. But, if you are looking for it, I’ll give it to you.
The greatest gift my best friend has ever given me was the permission to fall apart.
I’ve lived a long time under the auspice that it’s how we appeared to be on the outside that people needed to see. Hide your crazy.
My crazy was like a small child lurking behind a door leading to an immense room full of people and she was scared shitless.
When you find yourself behind that door, know that everyone in the room knows there’s a child behind that door. They glance her way. They catch her eye.
My best friend marched right up to her and took her by the elbow and looked her square in the face.
“It’s okay to lose your shit. You have to. You’re doing a really bad job of pretending everything is okay and you’re fine and we all know you’re not,” she told me.
“You have to break apart a little. Everyone expects you to and is ready for it. You can’t not do it. No one, not even you, is that strong.”
And she was so very right. I had no idea how to fall apart.
You’ll figure out what falling apart looks like for you. You’ll find it oddly soothing. The glory is that once you fall apart you get to put yourself back together. You make the pieces fit in ways you didn’t think they could. You become whole again.
Everyone makes it through that damn tunnel. Afterwards the sun on your shoulders feels warmer. The sun more vibrant. I promise you.
And although I know you will want to punch me in the face for saying this, it will get better. You have to believe me.