I love this space. A Wide Mercy is sacred for me, born out of a need to find God in the mess of my life. Over time you guys have all joined me. Together we have made sense of my experiences, and yours – of losing God and finding Him in new places, of moving across the country while raising a bunch of little kids, of struggling with changing marriages. I thank God for the space to sort through all of that, and for the strength we all find when we stand together and say, “Me too.”Over the past year I have shared less and less on A Wide Mercy. The reason is simple: I wanted to create an honest space, and I didn’t know how to share my life as it was honestly. I had no idea how to begin to articulate what was happening, because I barely understood it myself.
I had no words for how seeing my son dead, even for a few minutes, changed the core of who I am. And I didn’t know how tell you about what happened in my home after that moment – the way the effects of a brain injury, changing dynamics with extended family, and emotional trauma for all of us melded into something unrecognizable. As Glennon says, we want a before and after, a story to tell the world. Telling our story as it unfolds, when you can’t foreshadow a resolution because you cannot begin to guess what that resolution might be, feels impossible.
So I didn’t.
I didn’t tell you the moment last winter when all at once it dawned on me, we don’t have to live this way. Or early last spring, when I told my husband I wanted to move toward separation. I didn’t tell you that for the first half of the year, weekends were marked by long, dense, heavy conversations, all leading back to the same conclusion: our marriage was a train wreck. I didn’t tell you about the myriad of therapists and their conflicting advice. How we chased every specialist we could find for brain injury and trauma, looking for a loophole. We wanted an answer other than the one glaring in our eyes every time we opened them. I didn’t tell you about the neuropsychologists, who, one by one, all assured me my husband would be just fine, so long as he had a quiet, calm, predictable home, with plenty of time and space to adapt to changes in routine. How one specialist said, surely my four small children could color quietly as I cooked dinner, so my husband could rest and meditate after a long day of work.
I didn’t tell you how every time a specialist put responsibility for my husband’s well-being on me, our relationship unraveled a little more.
I didn’t tell you the hopelessness of realizing the life I’d had for 17 years, the path I thought I would always follow, had just come to an abrupt end. And the relief of discovering that I had not driven off a cliff, but instead forked a hard left, following a new trail along the ledge.
So when my husband moved out on Mother’s Day this year, I didn’t tell you. Because I didn’t yet have the party line answer, a tidy way to explain all of this, without making anyone uncomfortable. Instead, I came here less and less, and the gap between my daily life and what I was sharing grew.
I’m closing that gap now. Because this is a sacred space, and as my priest said yesterday, spirituality draws us into a more intense experience of our present moment. God said, “I AM,” not “I WAS” or “I WILL BE.” And He has met me on that trail along the ledge all year. I want to be able to share those stories with you, and to hear yours. Maybe my path looks different from yours now, but we are walking in the same direction. We’re all trying to find our way Home, and we need one another’s encouragement to keep walking. I don’t know how this story will unfold, but from this point forward, I want to find out together.
A note before I go:
I’ve followed bloggers with ending marriages. I almost always unfollowed them soon after they left because of their disparaging attitude toward marriage and their estranged husbands. I don’t want you to be in a similar position. So let’s lay down a few ground rules for how we’ll talk about marriage and living single moving forward:
- I will not badmouth my husband. We’ve spent our entire adult lives looking out for another, and our attitude of wanting the best for each other remains. Our relationship has new boundaries, and it has changed dramatically over the past six months, but insulting one another is not a part of what we’re doing. Also, some day my children will read my blog, and I will not give them vitriol as a part of their legacy.
- I will not critique the institution of marriage. Marriage is a sacrament. It is beautiful and holy and good and true – when it functions the way God intended. When it doesn’t, well, it’s not. But I still believe deeply in marriage as a sacrament, and I won’t critique it, or put you in a position where you feel the need to defend your healthy relationship. In reality, I probably won’t talk about marriage at all very much. I’m more likely to talk about the present, and how our relationship looks now.
- There’s a good chance our paths look different right now. Can we acknowledge that and continue to give grace to one another? Can I continue to encourage you in the life you have, while you encourage me in mine? We do not have to be in the same place to love and encourage each other. I am okay with that if you are.
- When I was happily married, I would hear stories like this and be heartbroken for them. I would always say, “I’m so sorry,” because I couldn’t imagine living without my husband. Now I know I was sorry for the wrong things. Be sorry our lives went in a direction where separation was the best option, be sorry life did not go the way I’d planned. Sometimes we have to choose the least bad option, because no good options are left. I made this one slowly and carefully. I grieve what is lost, but I am not sorry we are separated.