It ended miraculously compared to how it all started and the garbage I let in.
I felt really really awful when I realized my divorce proceedings had been attorney-office gossip, then dinner time conversation, and eventually evolved to bar talk… My stomach did a 3-day lurch down to the bottom floor of the Empire State Building as I realized that it was possibly an interesting story (to an outsider, not going through the tremendous emotional and financial devastation that highly public criminal court cases come along with). Why wouldn’t they unearth it, roll it around, and look for something of interest to chat about? Never have I wanted to be as Normal as possible as when gathering with my old friends from Normal 2 weeks ago. But my life diverged from Normal (and my Normal expectations for it) in 1997 when my then-husband was arrested. I guess I have not healed as much as I had hoped; it continued to unravel me. But read to the bottom…
I was standing tall in my gorgeous shoes, in the afternoon sunshine, over beers on the sundeck of a beautiful bar, laughing with old friends over a crazy 8th grade social studies teacher we had 30 years ago. He casually said “Oh, my wife works with your attorney. She was talking with him… he told her… she told me…” There I was, having a very private memory lane of my own at the reunion- my divorce case from 13 years ago dredged up, all the old wounds freshly incised. I could only stammer “Ah, interesting”.
Later, boulders ran downhill quickly as I came to and realized how inappropriate that was. But it was too late, I was at dinner, struggling to keep up with conversations while drinking as many margaritas as they would place in front of me. After midnight, the salt on the wounds came on, as the old boyfriend’s wife bizarrely pulled out a stack of high school photos of us from those old days when I dreamt about happily ever after with a loving man, picket fence, 2.3 children, etc. I have no idea what her intentions were, but suddenly there I was, in our prom, homecoming, senior photos, smiling with joyous expectation of life ever after. Surreal does not begin to describe it! So I drank more. Then got a ride to the hotel, which I discovered is 2 blocks down the street from the Church I was married in.
The failed expectations were swarming me. It all combined to form a tangled coil of nerves in my brain that would take a couple of weeks to unravel. I couldn’t stop the time travel and I got very dizzy.
I forgot who I was for 3 days. I forgot that I am a fabulous mom, that I have a career in a field I enjoy, that I have dear friends who enjoy talking to me and value me and my opinions. Basically, I forgot all that I have accomplished, all that I am proud of in the last decade. The incredible sadness of my divorces and my single life was dredged up to stare me and my childhood friends in the face. I didn’t sleep for the next week, and conversations felt strained and useless for days as I struggled to get back to the present.
Most importantly though, I forgot that God holds me closely in his hands. I forgot that this IS the plan, for me to raise my 2 beautiful children alone, and to be doing an incredibly great job of it. I forgot that the other crap may have occurred, taking me away from MY plan, and yes, away from my Normal upbringing, and my Normal expectations for my life. But I am never going to do things that will take me away from God’s love.
It may happen to you too. You will think you are buzzing along finally, doing your life, wearing beautiful shoes, paying the rent on time, eating healthy dinners with your kids, and going to work at a job you are proud of. Your guard will be down. Your Grandmother might corner you at a Christmas dinner with dreadful questions about “him”; your Dad might make a financial decision that clearly unseats your place in the family; your coworker at a summer BBQ may reel you back with an intensely personal question in front of your boss; or an old friend, your neighborhood, or your newspaper might gossip about something that happened to you 10 years ago. Precisely when your guard is down, it will shake you to your roots. You may think you are small, stupid, worthless, and pathetic because of things that happened long ago. Don’t believe those thoughts.
The bottom line, my friends, is that God is holding us, not letting us go. I didn’t screw up my life marrying idiot losers. You didn’t screw up your life either with your choices. You are on track, right where you are supposed to be today, raising your lovely children, and doing a beautiful job of it. Don’t forget that you are doing God’s perfect will, just today when you poured the milk for her and listened to his music with him. No matter what hell breaks loose, threatening to unravel your sanity and clarity, you are beautiful and doing a beautiful job. Nothing else matters.
Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”