Fifteen years ago I was laying on a rose-strewn massage table. It's my wedding day. I never expected to get married. Never wanted to. But I'd fallen in the kind of love that feels permanent. For the first time I'd found someone I wanted to commit to.
Like us, our ceremony and vows were unconventional. Drums beat, sage burned. My gay boyfriends walked me down the makeshift aisle in our backyard. Our dogs carried our rings. A dear friend, an ordained Catholic nun, officiated. We promised to be together as long as it served each of our highest good. And for 10 years we were.
Our marriage ended five years ago. As separations go, it was amicable. He helped move me to Spokane. We vacationed together that summer and even spent Christmas together. Bittersweet. Even though I'm now grateful a hundred times over, letting go was an excruciating process. Everything about my life changed. My home, my community, how often I saw my dogs (we shared custody for years), my comfort zone. I was lost and fragile.
For months I couldn't even say the word divorce out loud. When the Marriage Dissolution papers arrived in the mail, I realized how insignificant -- like signatures on a marriage license -- paperwork is. That's neither where our relationship came together nor fell apart. I remember pulling them out for a friend who was spinning out over her own separation saying, "This little 1/2-inch stack of paper? That's all a divorce is. Your relationship still exists, just in a new form. Stop scaring yourself with words." Ha! Exactly what I needed to hear myself.
For a good long while I was angry, hurt and resentful, but that shit's toxic and I stayed committed to my spiritual path. No matter how I felt, I went through the motions of right action. Naturally I licked my wounds raw time and again but mostly I acted as if this was God's will for me. I practiced trust, sometimes well, sometimes crappily. Lots of f-bombs in my prayers those days. Slowly a new life unfolded. New friends. New community. New activities. New everything. Better everything.
My ex and I were estranged for a while. A tough yet absolutely necessary gift. Fire purifies. Today we're building a new friendship. Our lives are progressing exactly as they're meant to. I absolutely love the woman he now shares his life with, and their nutty Dobie.
Healing takes time and dedication. It takes willingness to be really uncomfortable (not my strong suit!) and do awkward stuff like gratitude lists, socializing and being in this moment on a continuous basis. Fortunately I'm surrounded by lots of wise women (and men) I'm willing to listen to and accept direction from. They've never steered me wrong.
Recently I was clearing out old paperwork and stumbled across my divorce papers. I don't need these, I thought. I inhaled with a new awareness and freedom. I don't need these. So I shredded them. Not with animosity or vengeance, simply with release.
The past is over.
Today I'm alive and free in ways I never dreamed possible. I absolutely LOVE my present and I'm excited beyond measure for the future.
But I went through hell to get here. The secret? I kept going.