Divorce silences you. Divorce tests not only your own resolve, but also the strengths and resolve of your closest relationships.
When my marriage ended it shook the foundation of every relationship I had in my life. One main one being the relationship I had with myself. I was forced to recreate my role as a mother with my children. I was faced with examining my relationship with my parents, parents who are Catholic, have been married over 40 years, and wanted to love and support me despite the fact that they didn't quite understand, or even agree with, my divorce. I encountered friends who took sides, made assumptions, and judged me without knowing anything I was going through. And then there were those who stood by me, simply wanting to be there as support, offering an ear, offering a hug, offering a much needed glass of wine.
From the outside, it appeared that I was one who ended the marriage. I didn't do much to dispel that notion, even though in my head I considered it a myth. I did little to share my story. I sat in my own self-judgment, was my own worst critic.
How, as a lesbian, who fought so hard to have gay marriage legalized could I now end mine? Was I ruining my kids' lives? Would I manage with four kids, now doing it solo? I felt guilty. I felt small. I felt ashamed, now being in that majority group of having a broken home, as if making your marriage work is a badge to be worn with confidence and pride, and the alternative was -- well, not so good.
But somewhere I shifted.
I no longer wanted to sit in my own silence. I no longer wanted to feel guilt or shame. I wanted to do my part in being open, being vulnerable, being real. A year had passed and I had a renewed energy that felt like courage and sounded like voice. While I knew I was nowhere near out of the woods, I felt like I could speak my truth. I felt like I deserved to be heard. I felt like I wanted to be heard and I wanted to share.
Over the year, I discovered how important it is to really put our own assumptions, expectations, and judgments aside to just offer people love and acceptance. I've discovered that questions of why or how often don't have clear, linear answers. I've discovered how stories have multiple sides and it's not about who's right and who's wrong, but about finding a way to live within our stories, being accountable, responsible, connected, authentic... happy.
Someone told me this past year that beauty shows when something is the fullest expression of it's true self. So, here's the thing: I had lost my beautiful.
I say this with no blame or agenda. I say it with ownership and awareness. I say it as I share that I had lost my beautiful, and I am now in the process of getting it back.
In getting my beautiful back I am a better mother to my kids. My kids face divorce challenges, but they are well loved and laugh often. While I know they have moments of sadness, they now get to see me fully empowered, being the mom I want to be, in a relationship with a wonderful woman. They see me finding my beautiful one day at a time.
Every day continues to be marked by small steps forward, and a willingness to continue on with the (sometimes large) steps back. But moving forward I am. I am working hard to live in alignment with my values and actions, and trying to be a mom that encourages her kids to do the same.
I have come to notice how conscious we must live in order to prevent the loss of our beautiful. This consciousness requires awareness, a willingness to face the hard, go thru hurt, and actively engage in the relationships that are most important to us. (Heavy sigh.) Trying to live this way sure can get hard, but then again, it's supposed to be hard, if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
So, to everyone out there struggling with divorce or any type of experience that tests your sense of self and your resolve, I hope you find comfort in those people who love you as you go through life's challenges. And, more than anything, I hope you try, every day, to live beautiful.
Lorri does leadership development, coaching and speaking -- "We are all on this journey together. Sometimes everyone could use a bit of support and assistance as we navigate the complexities of life. Let's find our beautiful one day at a time."