As my Tammy-from-Michigan friend has recently told me, we all go through chapters in our life. I agree. Some are boring. Others tragic and dramatic. I am currently in a very happy chapter. But Chapter 44 didn’t come about independently from the others. It reads with the undertones of chapters 1-43.
Divorce is certainly not an ideal situation. Understatement, right? It’s confusing and cumbersome and many times, devastating. Even if beneficial in the end, it is a tough dose of medicine to swallow going down.
I fully realize I am one of the lucky ones. I have heard of them before but now am experiencing it myself: I like my ‘ex’. Larry recently wrote about it on his blog and referenced the fact that we are still family, just in different roles. I couldn’t agree more, Larry. For instance, I am picking up Larry tomorrow and he’s coming out to spend the day with Dad…and Mom…and as is always the case, I am sure we will engage in our typical mode of theological/philosophical conversation about the why’s and what if’s regarding Mom and Alzheimer’s and how to best deal with the role we’ve been given. Scott has been a stronghold to me through this process; but he didn’t know Mom ‘before’. He didn’t know the unique relationship I had with her or the strong, defiantly stubborn person that she was and is now so far from being. And that’s okay; Scott is uniquely needed for this particular leg of the journey. But Larry was present for the former chapters.
I think there is a choice when divorce occurs. A choice to step back and objectively look at what went wrong. To ask yourself: What part did I play in the failure? (As I’ve referred to before, I had to “own my shit”.) Larry and I had a long talk about it recently and talked about how ‘unfair’ it really is. I see the way I act with Scott and realize how unfair it is to Larry (and my children) that I didn’t know myself better with them. So much of what goes on between Scott and me seems so natural. So instinctive. But it wasn’t that way with Larry. Through no fault of Larry’s; but of my own hesitation and reticence to open up and be who I am. And now with Scott, I feel completely at home. Possibly for the first time in my life.
I know the statistics. I know that “second chances” often end up not lasting. But I would like to believe that in those cases the ground wasn’t fertile for a second attempt at ‘happily ever after’. I would like to believe that now, in this situation, there are characters in my life’s narrative that are willing to stop and say, “Dang; I screwed up. The results were horrendous. And I NEVER want it to happen again.” I would like to believe that Chapter 44 holds a story of people who regularly conduct self-examinations of their faults and strengths and CHOOSE to act accordingly. And who also seek guidance beyond themselves and their circle of friends, but from a God whose clarifying process is rarely mistaken.
In any divorce that involves children, the adults are wisest that relinguish their own pride for the sake of their children. Ultimately, one of the greatest things we do as couples is have children. I know that Larry and I consider it our best team effort! Baird and Hannah have been present throughout this 3+ year process and I would hope that they never felt the need to “choose” one parent over the other. It takes a great deal of self-restraint to go through an event that often evokes the desire to scream out loud, “BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MYYYYY POINT OF VIEW!!!” Who ultimately feels good about that? Yourself? That’s it; I guarantee it. And that sense of satisfaction won’t last long. The relationship you have with your child, lasts much longer. It is the people in the periphery that have the hardest time adapting, sometimes.
My father made a comment to me (that I told Baird and Hannah about and they smiled and said he had made the same comment to them): “I’m trying really hard not to like Scott….” I laughed when he said it, knowing Scott’s a hard guy not to like. And then Dad added, “I feel disloyal to Larry.”
I completely understood that statement. My nieces have someone new to figure out. My kids have a new person that’s hanging around their mother. My Dad has a new relationship to foster. My sister, not quite sure who to ‘side’ with…. The People on the Periphery. How horrible for a child to have to decide whose “side” they’re on when their parents are bickering over things that ultimately boil down to a hurt pride. What could you possibly argue over that is of greater importance than the sense of security you desire for your children?! What is more important than the need for your children to be proud of BOTH of their parents; knowing they come from strong parents of character and integrity that love them unconditionally?! What could POSSIBLY be more important than that?!
If a successful second chance at “happily ever after” is possible for all parties involved, those immediate participants must make the conscious choice to do better. To examine their own lives (not those of “the other side”) and determine how they can learn from the failed marriage. They must determine to NOT make the same mistakes again. They must, above all else, pray that God’s sharp scalpel of correction is exacting and precise. The roots of cancer, dandelions, and pilonidal cysts must be completely removed, or their persistent tentacles will grow again. Evil-root-eradiction is not easy. Or pleasant. But it is immensely necessary.
I am lucky. I have a former husband that is mature and caring. A former spouse that ultimately is concerned with God’s will in his life and the well-being of his children above all else. The women he has talked with after me, have been made aware of that desire. And honestly, along with Baird and Hannah’s future relationships, I pray for that incredibly lucky women that will one day share Larry’s life story.
Scott, currently, is not as lucky. His divorce is newer, so it’s still very tender in the hearts of all involved. I have watched as friends and family members of Laura’s have read my blog. I am sure they are not aware that their addresses are being tracked. I have struggled with how to handle it. How to be the most sensitive to their situation. I have wanted to tell them how much I understood where they must be. I know they look at this blog and think, “You just don’t know Scott…” That’s a natural reaction. Just as I’m sure Larry has at times thought the same thing about me. And truthfully, I don’t fully know Scott. I don’t have the benefit of longevity with Scott that they do. I haven’t seen all his faults – just as he has not seen all of mine (although I’m sure in reading this he thinks, “What?! You mean there’s MORE?!!!”-ha) But the crux of that feeling is just what Larry and I discussed a few weeks back, “It isn’t fair.” Scott isn’t the person that he was one year ago. I know I certainly am not. Neither is Larry or Laura. We’ve all become stronger. And weaker. And in the process, we have each been given the opportunity to grow. To evolve. To turn from the past through forgiveness and step toward the future in grace.
I wish everyone who goes through the terrors of divorce could experience it the way Larry and I have. It hasn’t always been pleasant. Many times it has been more pain than any of us thought we could bare. But eventually, we have found a new relationship. A friendship that is cherished and more greatly appreciated than any other relationship we have been in.
I am immeasureably happy. Scott said one time that it was as if we were created as one mold then broken apart when we were born. We fit. Our personalities are such that it allows the other one to thrive and grow. I told Larry that fire is a good element. It does good things. Just like gasoline serves an important service. But together, they are destructive. A counselor that Larry and I saw made the comment to Larry, “You and Greta are toxic for one another.” And it’s true. We see it each time we’re around each other. Only now, we smile in an exasberated, “Oh yeah! THIS is why” kind of way. 🙂
Some personalities are meant to co-exist in harmony. And I believe that is true for me and Scott.
I’m excited about our future: Chapter 45 and on. But it doesn’t come without the remorse over chapters 1-43 and all who have been involved in those parts of our lives. And that’s not to insinuate that there is only remorse in those first chapters. There are plenty of happy memories as well. Ultimately however, I can only make choices for myself. I hope everyone else will as well. Sure, for Baird and Hannah and Haleigh and Luke. But ultimately, for our own health. When we are happy and healthy, we are able to give so much more to those that we love. And those characters that have not yet even entered our lives.
My book is a strange tale. But it has made me who I am. And for that, I am thankful. God knows. He knows me far better than I ever will. He is the author and creator of my life’s work.
I can allow no one else to pick up the pen and write the next line. He, alone, is the divine ghost writer.