August 21, 2004…
On this date ten years ago, my world split in two.
It was the summer I was sick with mononucleosis that I wondered where on earth I had gotten. I had been suffering from fever and terrible headaches for a couple of weeks and had convinced myself that the doctor was going to tell me I had brain cancer. When she told me I had mononucleosis I was dumbfounded. How do you get mono when you’re in a monogamous relationship? At 51 years old?
It was also the summer I took my youngest son to Newfoundland for two weeks in an attempt to reconnect with family and to have some peace. I had always prayed for peace in my life, but homeschooling our three boys, and my husband’s chiropractic clinic in the house made sure I never had it.
But that was all before August 21.
You know how sometimes things happen in your life that, had you known the dark days that were to follow, you would never have permitted them to happen? Not that I really had any control over what happened in August 2004, but I often wondered that if I could go back in time and change things, would I do it? Today I think not.
I remember that day as if it were yesterday. My husband and older sons were to go with some friends for a day of paintball, leaving my youngest son and I home alone. My husband was acting strangely that morning, like he had something on his mind that he was afraid of. He finally said he didn’t feel well and that maybe the boys should go on to paintball without him. He said he had to talk to me about something.
Something that could change our lives forever.
So when the boys left the house my husband said he wanted to talk in his office. I thought that sounded official, so I decided that whatever it was that he had on his mind, I would be dressed, complete with makeup to hear it.
And then came the bomb.
Nothing could have prepared me for it. He told me that he had been seeing an old girlfriend from high school, and that he wanted to spend time with her to see whether or not he would stay with me or go with her. He told me all his thoughts and finished by crying in my arms. I thought of my mononucleosis…
Hello? We had been married for 21 years. We were a right wing, fundamentalist, homeschooling Christian family. I was a submitted and fearful woman who was afraid to express an opinion, who thought that everything outside her kitchen window was evil.
How did that ever happen to us?
How ever would I manage on my own? With three bewildered children.
And so began a very dark night of my life. Those of you who have gone through a divorce know very well that there is a lifetime in those ‘dark night ‘ years. I was so ashamed that this had happened to me at the age of 51.
I had to relearn how to be in this world, how to stand up for myself and fight for my children and myself.
I did it!
Looking back now, 10 years later, it’s difficult to imagine that from the ashes of my broken marriage could rise anything beautiful and of value. I remember during those dry years, thinking that I would figuratively bury my old self and never think of ‘that person’ again. But a wise person pointed out to me that who I am today is a result of all my experiences, including what I lived during the past ten years. The fire that I went through made me a much more compassionate, tolerant and loving woman.
I accomplished much.
I bought a house and sold it.
I married a man who loves me just the way I am and does not try to change me.
I wrote a book and had it published.
I got a job for the first time in 24 years. I learned to speak French fluently.
And I became somewhat of an expert on growing and using lavender.
But most of all I learned that I am a loveable person in my own right; that I don’t have to be anything more than myself for people to like me.
And I learned to love and accept myself.
After some time I was able to say “Thank you” for my divorce. I could not have imagined being grateful that I am divorced, but I am very grateful. If going through that kind of ‘refiner’s fire’ was able to change me into who I am today, then I am happy.
And so, being that today is the anniversary of my personal D-Day, I will celebrate my ten years of freedom. I will also celebrate that God’s grace has been with me all the time, and even more so now that I have understood and experienced what Grace actually is. I have this frame hanging in my office as a reminder.