Beware! Timelines and Red Flags

In the midst of my divorce, I attended a good friend’s baby shower. As I talked to a younger guest about her boyfriend, her desire to get engaged, and her frustration that she wasn’t yet, I could sense in her the same discontentment which had plagued me in my 20s.

Despite my own sadness and confusion, I gave her the best advice I could muster at the time, “Don’t let your personal timeline ruin the present. Mine screwed me.”

In my case, my personal timeline had not only ruined my present but my foreseeable future.

Prior to filing for divorce and throughout much of the divorce process, I beat myself up about the choices that had led me to this place. My therapist and friends offered comfort. How could you have ever known this would happen? He said all the right things. We were all taken in by him.

And for the most part, they were correct. Most people grow up significantly between their 20s and 40s; my husband did not. During courtship, my husband had said all the words I wanted to hear. He said he wanted to be a partner. He said he wanted children.

Yet, in the quiet moments of reflection that are hard to bear when you are struggling with grief and loss, I had to admit the truth to myself. While my husband had betrayed the marriage in too many ways to count, I was also complicit in my divorce.

In my 20s, I secured my career, I traveled and had a great social life. It should have been enough, but I was desperate to get married and “start my life.” I watched most of my friends meet significant others and settle down, and I still was single.

Then when I was 28, my husband came along. He was in my social circle, he was romantic and spontaneous and said all the right things. It seemed perfect. My friends thought it was perfect. We quickly became a couple, and it seemed so easy.

But the truth is, it should have been closer to perfection than it was. It should have been easier than it was. There were numerous red flags. They were blood red and being waved directly in my path. Reckless behavior. Excessiveness. Financial irresponsibility.

There were numerous red flags. They were blood red and being waved directly in my path. I chose to ignore them. I chose to ignore them because I had a bigger plan – a timeline that stretched before me with marriage, a dog, a house, and children. And I was behind schedule.

I have had time to revise my advice: acknowledge the red flags and abandon the timeline. You cannot schedule finding a good partner. And a timeline cannot make an inferior one someone he is not.

Shattered

My marriage fell apart piece by piece. It was singularly the saddest experience of my life and left me feeling broken in a way that is indescribable.  Shattered. 

I had walked down the aisle blissfully naive. Hopeful. Whole. Perfect. Full of expectations and dreams for the future: a long happy life ahead filled with babies, a beautiful home, and treasured memories. 

Often, life does not play out as we imagine.  I ignorantly believed at 32 that marriage meant happily ever after. And so I was woefully unprepared for the destruction that lay ahead. 

Every late night arrival home, every unanswered phone call, every ignored text, every found receipt, every lie just broke another piece of my heart and chipped away at my marriage and my being. 

Eight years and two beautiful babies later, my marriage was ruined, the life I wanted destroyed, and my heart in splinters. 

I cried…a lot, and I was so fearful that I would never stop.  That I would never recover. That I had been irrevocably altered. That I would never feel hopeful, whole, or perfect again. I cried for what I had lost. I cried for who I had become. And I cried for the me I once was. 

In the middle of my worst days, I read a Facebook post about kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing shattered porcelain with liquid gold. In some cases, repairs take months, but the scars ultimately give the repaired object a higher value.

And I have come to see the wisdom in this Japanese art. Yes, I was shattered and defeated for a very long time. I am not the naive 32 year old I once was who believed a life of perfect bliss lay ahead. 

Now, I picture my splintered heart held together by hundreds of threads of gold. I am imperfect, but I am not broken anymore. And beauty lies in both my fragility and my strength as I begin to repair my heart and rebuild a new, different life.

Losing 1000 Pounds

2017 was the year I tried to lose 1000 pounds.

Weight I have carried a long time.
Weight difficult to drop.
Weight that holds me down.

2017: The hardest year of my life or so I thought. The year I turned 40. The year I gave up any hope that my marriage could be repaired. The year I started divorce proceedings.

2018 had to be smoother or so I thought. When New Year’s arrived, I wrote my resolutions as I do every year. This year they were a bit different. Gone were the typical eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight promises I had made every year until that point. With bigger challenges ahead, I designed intentions instead:

Thrive don’t just survive
Don’t look back, move forward
Care for myself
Be a more patient, present parent
Travel lighter

Travel lighter: My marriage in recent years had been so painful, so disappointing, so heartbreaking, and had taken such a toll on me emotionally and mentally. After beginning the divorce proceedings, I silently cheered myself that I was a 1000 pounds lighter between my husband, his morbidly obese parents who were an integral part in the failure of my marriage, and the weight of a stressful and unhappy situation. 1000 pounds lighter.

It had taken me such a long time to find the courage and strength to even initiate a divorce that I had incorrectly imagined the next step would become tremendously easier.

Once again, I was wrong. There has not been one step on the path that has been easy. Even the parts that the attorneys promised would be simple and quick have been difficult.

I should have known. It turns our that if a man is oppositional during marriage, he will be even more so in divorce. I should have known.

Join me as I write to make sense out of mess and heartbreak, as I try to find hope again, and as I travel 1000 pounds lighter.