“It was the day the world went wrong
I screamed till my voice was gone
And watched through the tears
As everything came crashing down
Slowly panic turns to pain
As we awake to what remains
And sift through the ashes
That are left behind
But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams
We have this…hope.”
Staring at these lyrics this weekend, I wondered if I wrote them two years ago or did someone else hear my story and put music to it. The initial part of the song, and my story, isn’t a new one- more of a cliché in fact. The message of hope, however, is one I feel we need to talk more about.
Hope was something I was luckily able to grasp from the beginning. Although the start of the separation was infinitely painful, there was an air of hope. The most critical element of this hope was that it was in relation to myself. I had hope that I would feel like myself again, love myself again, and be that example of love and strength for my daughter. My life before and my life now do not resemble one another in the slightest. In shedding that pain, self doubt and shirking the stranglehold of expected deceit I felt free. There was immediate hope that tears would be replaced by laughter. I would return to the girl I loved from my teenage to early twenty-something years. That was certainly a time of sadness, like a death of a family member, but in my hope I found my breath. I found the ability to get out of bed in the morning – even in a starkly quiet, solitary apartment with poor lighting. Hope was a unique feeling – one exemplified by a private smile I would share with the music playing on the radio while driving. In meditating on feelings of newness and restorative self-love, I began to return to a life of poetry, books and music, of deeper mediation and healthier forms of exercise. Truly, the word hope meant self.
I stopped hating my body and comparing it to others. What was the point? I’d bared a child for goodness sake- damn that is impressive work. Be gone with the thoughts that if I was younger, prettier, more fit, than the marriage would have worked. I started to read every book Thich Nhat Hanh ever wrote. I watched Brené and Glennon on TED Talk’s website. I decided that I’d pour only goodness into my soul – I was in charge of the contents after all! It wasn’t all rosy, as you very well know, and I’ll come back to that later. But self was the mission and dammit I had hope for what I might still become.
Messages or conversations of hope are all around me these days. Whether it is a reminder of our SC motto, “while I breathe, I hope,” or several conversations recently with other mothers going through separation and divorce, hope is something we all need even while living our best lives. A common thing has continued to emerge, however, around my own hope or hope I’ve seemingly given others. Comments are made or sentiments shared that because I’ve now found my great love, hope is now alive in me or now a part of my story. The pervasive thought is that hope is only tied to another person coming into your life.
My loves, this cannot be the way. Hope needs to solely be about your own journey. Emerging from the ashes – of pain, failure, separation from your child(ren), hatred from the lips of someone you once loved, and the feeling that you disappointed your little world- is freaking hard. Knock you down, drag you out to the curb hard. Finding hope can feel impossible some days. Yes, this is true. But the hope you seek is in your own heart, in your own mind.
If you are dealing with anything like this, my wish is that you find enough patience within you to enjoy this journey. That you will see a beacon of hope swell as you grow, and change, and turn love inward. I know wholeheartedly that my relationship has blossomed and quickly evolved into a blended family and impending marriage only because of that work within. Without the hope I held for myself, and the efforts I made to heal, I could not love another let alone another’s child. We all deserve another chance at true happiness, what I want you to understand is that begins with you. Just you. And you can’t rush it, no matter how much you want to.
As we take these steps toward our second marriage, as we continue to develop deeper bonds with our step-children, my future husband and I both will continue to work on ourselves. Having both come out of divorces, we recognize this unique and life-lasting relationship with ourselves. Each person will need to find time to continue the healing, continue the growth and development necessary to teach our girls.
To all of you who have reached out with love, thank you. For those of you in pain, who are struggling or separating or divorcing, keep the hope for yourself alive. Remember that you do matter, your voice and your feelings are important. Breathe life and love into your heart and from there everything will blossom.
May you gain more and more trust in what is challenging, and confidence in the solitude you may bear.