The Tsunami of Divorce
When a Tsunami hits, many people can recall events of the natural disaster, some of which will be vastly different from the others. Each person is telling a story from their own lens, and sometimes two people who were involved in the same event, in the same place, can have vastly different stories. Some people will say that they can remember the exact moment that they realized a tsunami was coming for them. Others will say it hit them in seconds, unexpectedly, that they had no idea. Some will know, and recognize the signs of a Tsunami, and plan ahead, giving these lucky souls extra hours to get ahead of the disaster, saving their lives. In many cases, a divorce is like a tsunami, and very few people are the lucky ones, those who are fully prepared to plan to save themselves, and their loved ones. Most will see the signs, and won’t know what to do, until it’s too late. Most don’t know that their relationship is showing signs of impending doom, ultimately causing the relationship to perish.
When I first heard about the Covid-19-divorce correlation, I was surprised. I remember thinking “Wow, those are insane numbers. I’m glad that isn’t going to happen to me”. Boy was I wrong. I read many articles about how and why these divorces were happening, and at the time, I wouldn’t allow myself to see that a lot of my fellow wives were describing a lot of the same issues that I had faced in my own relationship. The wives were of all colors, creeds, religions, ages and stages. I remember thinking that maybe counseling could’ve fixed their issues. I remember going to bed, thinking that everything can be fixed, but that was toxic, delusional optimism as well. Some things can’t be fixed. In order for things to be “fixed”, everyone in the room had to agree on the fact that a problem existed, and this was the hard part. Agreeing on an insidious problem, and the need to eradicate it, was the most difficult mountain to get over in relationships with other people. I had to learn this in my own relationships, and in life.
As a child, I remember asking my mother why she left my father. She gave the reason that people change, and sometimes grow apart. When I pressed her, she wouldn’t give details, which frustrated the hell out of my 10 year old brain. Now, as a woman, mother of 4, with my own children, I understand why she didn’t elaborate. It would’ve been unkind and bordering on emotional abuse to explain all the reasons for leaving her relationship with my father. It would’ve put a 10 year old girl into the position of sorting through adult problems with a child’s filter. Nothing positive could come from putting a child into the adult place, of being my mother’s sounding board. As a child, I often thought there was a dramatic reason for why she left my father. Was he a philanderer? Did he hit her? Surely it must be something diabolical. It wasn’t. I’m glad my mother kept it to herself, until I asked her recently and she told me. Now, at my big age, I understand the few reasons she explained, although she still didn’t divulge details. But ultimately what she said initially, was genuinely it: “People change”. But the part she left out all those years ago was “and they’ve changed into a person I don’t recognize, or see the value in staying with, for my mental and emotional health.” Even though I saw my parents not getting along, as a young girl, I always foolishly wondered “What if? What if they had fixed their issues?” And now, as a grown woman, I know the answer: “Everyone in the relationship has to label the issue as an actual issue. That wasn’t happening.” This one detail, seemingly innocuous, was the most deadly in most failing relationships.
When I got married myself, I remember thinking “I’m never going to get divorced. This is it.” I looked for the upside of each negative in life, and in relationships, to my detriment. I saw divorce as a failure, and it informed every fiber of my being. My operating system had a few core rules, and two of them used to be “divorce is unacceptable for me, a failure” and “family is forever”. These broken thought patterns stopped my own path of introspection, and reflections on the behavior of others, based on familial status. I falsely projected a good conscience onto people around me, prolonging atrophied relationships. Whenever I would start to think “What if I get a divorce?” My brain would divert me to another positive thought, to put in its place. The toxic positivity infected all of my thoughts and hijacked my actions. I would find twice the positives, to offset the negatives. But, like a person with a healthy brain, a healthy heart, and healthy organs, it doesn’t matter if you’re dead, lying on the coroner’s table. Sometimes the positives can’t outweigh the negatives. Like a knotted, worn shoelace, some things can’t be worked out.
One of the turning points for me was having a dream, in which I was in a beautiful home, that I had never seen before, my 4 kids in the backyard. The 5 of us were happy, healthy and whole. The sky was pink, the sun was setting, the grass was green, and there were exotic flowers everywhere, of every color invented by God. Beautiful birds flew around that I had never seen in real life, and I looked down to see that I was wearing a beautiful, long, and flowing, powder pink chiffon robe. As the soft breeze blew, I turned to look at the beautiful home and there were large glass windows, showcasing a beautiful large kitchen. I walked inside to find fresh flowers everywhere, and all the food that my children and I love to cook, and eat. Everything about the dream exuded abundance. It was so peaceful and serene. And in the dream, there was no fear, no fear of being a divorced mom, a failure. The feeling of marriage failure was gone from my very soul. All I could feel was love. Love for my children and a renewed love for my true self, the little girl within. I stirred from the dream, looked around me, and started taking stock of my waking life and making changes. Big changes. I made changes that I thought I never ever would. I filed for divorce, I was now one of the women I thought I couldn’t be.
Divorce is not the worse thing that can happen. The worse thing that can happen is staying in a false reality, wishing for something that won’t ever happen. The worst thing is remaining in a place that you’ve obviously outgrown, long after it should have ended. Like my mama said, people change. But like I say, it’s a conscientious choice, within yourself, to grow, and change for the better or for the worse. It’s okay for things to end, it isn’t a failure, it’s just the end of something. Most things have an expiration date, an end. There is beauty to be found in endings, and joy from the evolution. Overstaying is a choice that will stymie, and wither your growth. Choose wisely.