No one told me that it would take over fourteen months from the signing of the initial divorce papers until the signing of the final ones. No one told me how long it would take to get through the Courts in Madison County, Alabama. No one told me how excruciatingly difficult it would be to live in the same house that was filled with animosity for fourteen interminable months. People did tell me it would be “harder than you think.” To this I replied, “Oh, it will be fine, because I have God.” Everyone was right on that count: it was infinitely harder than I ever imagined, but I did have God, & in the end, everything will be fine. People also told me that it would take longer than I thought. I stubbornly refused to believe them, because again, I had God. Unfortunately, they were right. Fourteen months is a ridiculous amount of time to have a divorce pending! Mine would still be pending, had we not had an eleventh hour settlement. No one could prepare me for the indescribable stress of living with someone under those conditions for that long. Two wedding anniversaries, two birthdays, my son’s entire freshman year of college, & 5 seasons all came & went during my wait. Friends conceived & birthed babies. Multiple clients built houses from scratch. All the while, I wondered why I could not get a divorce. No one could have known the agony I experienced during countless sleepless nights. No one could have foreseen the thousands of tears I cried. No one could have understood the total helplessness I felt day after endless day. No one except God knew about the depths of my despair as I literally laid in my family room floor & begged Him for a reprieve. No one heard my screams of anger when I was home alone in the shower, as I yelled at God for allowing me to live that way for such an extended period. No one, except for those who have lived in these exact same shoes, can begin to comprehend just how exhausting, degrading, bewildering, & overwhelming it all has been. But I did all of those things.
Alone, lonely, broken, defeated, & abandoned by a Judicial system that does not have a heart or a soul, I survived fourteen months of what I began by describing as “living in limbo”, but what at the end I was calling “living in Hades.” Many days I wanted to quit. To call the whole thing off & return to my former, albeit unhappy existence. Many other days I wanted to run away to a place where I could just start anew. Many days I actually pondered the meaning of my own existence, & wondered if my own life was at all worthwhile. On the outside, I stayed busy. I worked a lot, like most other real estate agents that survived the economic crisis, trying to build my business back up to its former glory. I volunteered my time back to the community, working as an Ambassador for the local Chamber of Commerce, helping to grow the business community of my hometown. I chaired a fundraiser to raise money for a non-profit organization that makes adaptive clothing for wounded warriors. One of the most memorable things that I did was overcome my lifelong fear of falling by rappelling off of the top of a twelve story building in order to raise money for the local YMCA, & to send thirty kids of deployed troops to summer camp. My heart was in all of these things, but it was not enough.
Many people told me that they admired how I had “my act together.” Little did they know that it was all just an act, & that I was slowly crumbling away from the inside out. I always tell my kids that the “best way to forget your troubles is to go out & help someone else.” I still believe that. As long as I was busy focused on someone else’s issues, I did not have to think about my own. However, at the end of the day, alone in my bed in my daughter’s old room, which I dubbed my “purple prison”, it would all come tumbling down on me, & I would pull out my Bible & pray. 2 Samuel 22:2 will always be the hallmark verse that I turned to that helped get me through, “God is my rock, my fortress, & my deliverer …”
My close friends knew the toll it was all taking, & they would invite me over for a BBQ, take me to dinner, do lunch, or stay out way too late at IHop listening to me agonize on what I should do next. Even they did not know just how sorrowful I was, or how I would stay up praying & crying into the wee hours of the morning, until I was finally so exhausted that I could close my eyes for three or four hours before I started it all over again. I prayed diligently for THREE THINGS. My friends prayed with me. For many months, I did not post any specifics to social media. It was a good six months before most of my neighbors & people at Church knew I was getting a divorce. I struggled with the whole religious aspect of it. I was well aware of what the Bible says about divorce. However, I knew it was my ONLY option. Fortunately, to this day, I have only had one person, a well meaning younger woman at my Church, attempt to give me any kind of lecture against getting a divorce. I went to a Counselor for the first time ever, expecting him to insist that I bring in my spouse for couples counseling. I was surprised when he insisted, instead, that it was time I let go & move on. He helped me realize that a marriage like mine was no marriage at all, & that God had a better plan for me. I was blessed with the understanding & sympathy of almost everyone I knew, & God put many strangers into my path at just the very moment that I needed them to be there. I tried to stay strong for my kids, but I was getting weaker each & every day.
Finally, at my breaking point, I began to let people know just how upset I was, & I started posting things on Facebook about everyday happenings, gestures of friends, & spiritual revelations that were giving me comfort, guidance, & strength. I allowed people to see my vulnerability. Because I had held so many leadership positions in so many different capacities throughout the community over the years, I had always tried to maintain an image of successful professionalism. I did not think it would be fitting to allow clients, business associates, & acquaintance to see me at my weakest. But there comes a point in life where that does not matter. What does count is that you hope that some small tidbit that you share may offer an ounce of comfort or plant a tiny seed of hope in someone else in similar circumstances.
There is so much more to this story, but for brevity & privacy of others, I cannot share it all here. In addition to going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage & two kids, I had health issues to battle, including sinus surgery. I had to deal with the emotional strain my children were suffering. There were financial stresses. There was the constant disapproval of living in the same house with someone that is watching your every move. There was the betrayal of a couple of friends I’d confided in – I guess the attorney was right, “The only people that can betray you are the ones you trust.” That was a hurt that compounded the pain I was already feeling. There was jealousy & backbiting on a volunteer project I was leading. I would go back to a house that was no longer my home each night & think to myself, “Can there really be people that would sabotage a charitable endeavor because they are jealous of someone else?” I was living through the most challenging circumstances of my entire life, all the while trying my best to do something to truly make a difference in the lives of others, yet I was getting slammed for it. I questioned God daily as to why this was happening to me. And in the darkest hours, when there was no one around except the two of us, He would speak to my heart, & remind me that I should continue helping others despite their blind selfishness, for that is what we are each called to do, to “Love one another”. He is the one that dried my tears when my friends were all sleeping soundly in their own beds, & He is the one that gave me the peace, hope, & inspiration that I shared with others through my posts.
Do I wish that the past year had been different? Only for the sake of my children, whom I love more than I love my own life. I truly wish that I could have spared them any inconveniences & embarrassment associated with the divorce. As for me? Even though I prayed so very hard for the time to pass quickly, I would not exchange a second of it, now that I am on the other side of the tunnel. The reasons are many. First, by becoming so very weak, I was humbled in a way that I never had been before; I finally allowed others to see me at my worst; I allowed myself to not only accept, but to ask for assistance, something my pride would have prevented in the past. Because I stayed so incredibly busy at all times, I made connections & contributed to causes in ways that I might have been unable to do otherwise. I grew deeper friendships with people that I already knew. I made many new friends. I experienced parts of life I was unfamiliar with, such as how newly single & soon to be single band together to help & support one another. I prayed for & with so very many hurting people, & taught some of them how to pray for others. I explored aspects of myself that I did not know existed. I played Bunco for the first time. I took a hula hooping class. I went to a painting party. I joined a gym for the first time ever. I went on a bona fide ghost hunt. I got a new title at work. And, to fill in the gaps when I was not attending a business function or hanging out with friends, I wrote. I journaled in my prayer diary daily. I wrote little nuggets on my Facebook statuses. And when I could not think of anything to inspire myself or others, I forced myself to surf the net until I found a quote that would make me feel better. As an unexpected bonus, I began receiving comments, posts, emails, & texts from others regarding how my words had a positive affect on them, & people began to share with me their own battles. So I had the great honor of ministering to others, some of whom were in worse situations than myself. The past fourteen months have been way too long. But I would not trade them, even if that were truly possible to do. Please, Lord, don’t make me go through any more like them though. I am finally finished crying, I hope! Tomorrow, I’ll be looking for blue jays & butterflies! (Butterflies signify my new beginning, & blue jays signify the fact that persistence & tenacity pay off in the long run.)
I have learned that I am much weaker than I thought. But, paradoxically, I am much stronger than I thought. I still believe that FOURTEEN MONTHS IS WAY TOO LONG. I hope to raise awareness about our underfunded Court system. I strive to offer hope to those, who like me, are caught waiting in its tangled web. I pray, still I pray, for God’s guidance, provisions, & strength. I thank Him for granting me TWO of the THREE THINGS for which I prayed. I continue to ask him for ONE THING. May God bless the reader of this post, as He continues to bless me.