A religious person (read: zealot) will tell you, with confidence, that when God closes a door he opens a window. And that He only gives you what you can handle. My experience has been that although this could be true, the window is often in another room and you have to go looking for it. And, sometimes, the window is there but you have to grab an ax or baseball bat or use your damn elbow to break through it. It always seems like some kind of cruel joke.
A realist (read: cynic) will tell you, with confidence, that sometimes bad things just plain happen and you have to work your way through it the best you can. Or that finding the greater meaning of things is just a temporary and shallow comfort and that life is just hard. End of story. It’s a grind. In my experience, this can also be true. Bad things do happen. To the best kinds of people. For no discernible reason.
I have often found myself aligning with the first option, except I get really pissed off when God does something completely absurd. No amount of “God works in mysterious ways” will make me feel better. It’s a cop-out. On the other hand, swaying completely to the other side of things is a dark place to be emotionally. That’s why people throw themselves off of buildings.
I am trying to find balance in my life between these two extremes. I seek the greater meaning of things but also try to accept that sometimes things just are the way they are. Every day I feel a little different about everything.
A few months ago, a very close person to me passed away. He suffered from terminal cancer and so everyone knew the end result would be his passing. For a few years after he was diagnosed things were more or less okay. When he finally got so sick that it was obvious he wasn’t coming out of it, we all came together as one family to support one another and most important, support him.
In a way it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. All of us come from different walks of life and our lives are all in different places. We all have jobs and marriages and lives across the country and piles of crap to take care of. And yet, the love of one very special individual brought us all together. For me it was an experience that revealed the character of everyone around me, and my character as well. It was truly awful and painful and heartbreaking. But it was beautiful because it demonstrated what human beings are capable of when everything is on the line. How we can support one another and leave differences aside for one common goal. How no matter how bad things get, love will always prevail. The love for the person that is passing on and the love for one another.
Unfortunately, with all things, there is fallout. All of us are in pain over the loss of a loved one. He was kind, special, freaking hilarious, gentle, and an all-around great man. And on the days where I am angry at God for taking him away before the natural course of things, I just tell myself that life is a grind and sometimes bad things happen. It does not make me feel better, but it’s better than “God works in mysterious ways”. It’s not all that mysterious. He got sick and he died. And it sucks.
On days where I am a little less angry, I think that he is probably watching over all of us and cracking jokes the whole time. That it’s okay because at least he’s not hurting anymore and if that was God’s plan I can live with it.
After he passed away, I just wanted to write about it. I knew that I would feel better if I just wrote about it. But I didn’t really have time to process because of what happened next.
Most married people will tell you that the way they feel about their spouse is completely unique in that you can never feel it until you get there. No matter how deep you think your love can be, getting married changes everything. You reach deeper levels of love and respect, as well as deeper levels of loathing. My father once told me that true love is when you want to kill the person you are with, you plot out their death, but never go through with it. I found myself many times being so angry with my husband but unable to really do anything about it because of the intense love I felt for him. And since a marriage is a marathon and not a race, I chalked most the crap up to that first year being hard just like everyone says it is.
However, we can all agree that there are some things that are endgames. Some things one person can do to another and there’s really no recovering from it. On the day that we put this loved one in the ground, such a thing happened between my husband as I. And so, after weeks of misery finally coming to a close, before I could even think to process what had just happened to someone I loved and those loved ones around me, my marriage ended abruptly.
I mentioned that sometimes God closes a door and opens a window, but in my experience you have to find the window and break through. In this case at least it was easy to find the window, and breaking through wasn’t so bad. The hard part came afterward, and continues at this very moment and will continue until I am what I lovingly refer to (read: sarcasm) as “all better”.
Part of being married is feeling that no matter what happens, someone has your back. There is an anchor there and life will never sweep you away in all its madness because someone is tethering you to sanity. To lose this loved one and my anchor in such close proximity to one another had an interesting effect. Although I was caught in the maddening current of pain that life can offer, I was also awarded with the perfect clarity of what to do and when to do it. It was easy, those first few weeks. It was also terrifying, and horribly sad, and horribly painful, but it was at least easy. I was lucky enough to have the strength to do what was right instead of what was easy.
Honestly, I chalk most of that up to my amazing family and friends. I had such a terrific support system those first few weeks and continue to have that support system when it has gotten even harder. A huge shout out to everyone that listened to me talk for hours about the same damn thing over and over again. I love to talk, this is true, but when I get annoyed by the sound of my own voice it’s a damn miracle that the person on the other end is even still in the same county. I am eternally grateful to those people who were exactly what I needed and needed nothing from me in return.
And also, honestly, I still think that I don’t have it as bad as some of the others. Yes, I did lose a loved one and then my husband did something ugly and cruel and horrifying all at the same time. But I didn’t lose a father, or a husband, or a best friend to death. It is humbling to have a little perspective, that although what happened to me was just plain awful, it could have been a lot worse.
That sums up June through September.
In some ways it feels like it has been a lifetime since I was more or less happily married and our loved one was still with us. In other ways it feels fresh, as if it all just happened last week. The inconsistency of it all is exhausting. That one day I wake up feeling strong and sure of the world around me. Others I wake up miserable and in pain.
I am 110% sure of the decisions I have made since everything happened. After I left my husband, I moved out of the state and back home with my parents. Quit my job and left the field I worked in to be a waitress to pay my way through school. Which, I might add, is a really sweet deal for me. Four years from now I will have a Bachelors and little to no debt thanks to my amazing parents. I left my friends behind, the life I had been building for five years, and everything that made me feel safe to start over.
On good days I feel very lucky to have had this happen now. Before babies and mortgages entered the picture. On bad days I grieve the loss of a future that I was, more or less, looking forward to. Good days I think that being divorced at 23 is no big deal and just something that happened. Bad days it’s embarrassing and I feel like the girl with a t-shirt that says “I’m completely screwed up, please ask me how”. Sometimes a song will play and I don’t really mind. Other times a different song will play and I have a freaking meltdown.
Everyone tells me that all of my feelings are valid. Everyone also seems really impressed that I didn’t stay, that I am making all of these really scary decisions and being really brave. I don’t really see myself that way whether the day is good or bad, I just feel disappointed that I went out into the world and fell on my face. And fell in love with someone who hurt me so deeply. On any kind of day I think that I am permanently different from who I was six months ago. That I am never going to be as close to another human being than I was to my husband because being hurt this bad doesn’t balance out the love.
Some have told me that a year or two from now I will look back on all of this and it will just be something that happened and I won’t hurt at all. That’s probably true. It’s nice to know that I will only have to grind it out for a little while before I no longer feel so awful about everything. But, unfortunately, I’ll never forget what happened or how bad things could get. It sort of feels like an emotional car accident. No matter how long after something like this happens, I think I will always be aware of the dangers presented.
On the other hand, I also believe that life without meaningful relationships is an empty life. Life is messy, people get hurt, and I do believe that being a good person means that in terms of checks and balances everything will end up alright at the end. So overall I am mostly positive and not really worried about my long-term happiness. That’s kind of cool. But it’s a cold comfort, just like what the cynics and zealots tell you.
At the end of the day I try to accept what is happening to me and around me as the way things are and I do what I can to have an impact where I can. The rest I just try to let go and hope that others will have patience while I try to figure it all out. So far everyone has been really cool about it, for which I am extremely grateful. It’s a telling experience how people treat you when you’re hard to be around or things go wrong. Separates the good ones from the bad ones, as cliché as that sounds… it’s true.
Regardless, in a few weeks this will all be over. On paper, anyway. I think that I am evolving as a human being and when I finally do reach the elusive “all better” state, I will be a completely different person than most people are accustomed to. I usually say that people are, fundamentally, who they are. But there are parts of me that need to be refined and groomed, and some that just need to be different altogether.
I see myself being less generous emotionally and more reserved, perhaps a little more selfish. Falling over myself to give people what they need is what got me into this mess in the first place and I really need to stop doing that. I’m already less inclined to put my earnestly beating heart on a silver platter and hand it over to anyone. It’s kind of locked up right now, from everyone, because I got burned so intensely. Also, everything fun or satisfying in my life has kind of been put on hold pending my graduation from nursing school. Seeking out instant gratification for me into this mess as well, and I am perfectly content grinding it out and making all kinds of sacrifices for the next four years to put myself in a position where instant gratification is possible.
I was granted the gift of a second chance. No matter how horrible the circumstances leading up to this chapter in my life, I still have it. And I’m really not interested in blowing it over things I am guaranteed to happen later if I could just learn a little patience and sacrifice.
Most importantly, every day I feel stronger in who I am as an individual. The end goal is for me to be my own anchor, the only person tying myself to sanity. On a good day I feel like I am going to light the world on fire with all this drive. On a bad day I feel like I am free-falling and it’s terrifying.
Hopefully by the end of all of it that strong sense of self will be permanent and I can just live my life the way I want to and be truly happy.