Life can be hard. I have now been sitting here in front of my laptop for more than ten minutes trying to come up with a follow-up sentence to that statement that gives it justice and also sends us into the point of this blog post, but I keep deleting the drafts. There's not really much more to follow up with after that simple statement: life can be hard.
A few years ago when my ex-husband and I were in the thick of our culture shock in South Carolina, life was hard. Soon after that we went to counseling and life got even harder because we unearthed the hard truth that I wanted kids from our marriage and he didn't. I was sad and I was angry, but what I didn't realize then that I see plainly now is that we had started on the path to clarity.
After spending a lot of time trying to first convince my ex- that we should have children and then convince myself that I didn't need children in the marriage, I came to a point of acceptance. Mind you, once I got to a point of acceptance, life wasn't rosy. There was and still is a process: I moved back to New York to restart my career, I reached a point of forgiveness of myself and my ex- and I am now currently (re)learning how to be (yep, I'll always be learning that; spoiler alert: we all will).
My ex- and I worked really hard to make our divorce as smooth a process as possible. We started the work of drafting an agreement last year with the goal of being officially divorced by June 2011. But the month came and went this year and the trial still wasn't on the calendar in the courts in South Carolina (you know, y'all, it was the summah and therefore beach season). I began to get really anxious. I was panicky. I had kept "the first week of June" in my head as this marker — a milestone that would soon be surpassed. After that hurdle was cleared, relief would be the reward. But once June morphed into July, I became a total wreck. The what ifs wormed their way out of my subconscious and into day-to-day thought.
Then like a gift a date was finally set for our divorce trial: August 23. I made sure to keep my cellphone close by me in case something funky happened at the trial, but thankfully it was smooth sailing. Sure enough, when my ex- texted me that it was official (so Gen Y of us, right?), the sense of relief struck deep. I wasn't surprised by the feeling. I had intellectualized the process enough so that I assumed relief would be the outcome. It's just that I didn't fully understand why relief was going to be the response. Now on the other side of August 23 I realize that I was relieved because I was no longer responsible to a relationship that wasn't working. Couple that with this amazing lift of the pressure of having children, a pressure that only I was putting on myself, and I present to you, my dearest darlings, the joy of life.
Are there trying times ahead? Yes of course there are and these times can probably be summarized under one general category: dating. Is joy fleeting? Yes, I believe it is. But there's this concept I learned from my therapist in South Carolina that was recently echoed by my sweet JK who got it from this TED talk by Brene Brown and it is that in order to have joy in your life, you must open yourself up to grief. As Brown says in the talk, "to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive" and I am thankful and relieved that I am alive.