So, in my recent travels, I ran into a zillion friends, and it was wonderful, but there was a troubling pattern…. People cocked their head and furrowed their brow and said “How ARE you?” Which was incredibly sweet but also made me realize that I have worried a lot of people.
Six months ago, I kinda said “I’m divorcing. It’s hard…” and then pretty much disappeared for a while. This seems to have given people the impression that I am in all kinds of trouble. After all, who knows what it means if Liz is quiet. It has never happened before that anyone can remember.
Update: I am okay. I am more than okay. The first couple of months were incredibly hard, but it was a good pain. I’ve gotten through a lot of hard things in my life by patching them up and going around, and in this case I was determined to go straight through. To sink into it as far as I need to.
In the beginning, a friend told me it would be like walking through poisonous jello. This turned out to be a very apt description.
But there are two things that happened, over the months. One was that I became unafraid. I feel like I don’t ever have to go around anything, ever again. Sinking into pain makes you realize how… okay it is. To be in pain. Humans are built for this. It’s what we do.
The second thing that happened is that I began to actually get… through. Joyful spots were rare and quick at first, but now they’ve unfolded into a steady daily rhythm that has such a strong down-in-the-marrow-of-my-bones joy that it’s hard to describe.
Joy like all your life you’d only ever eaten canned fruits and vegetables and then someone hands you a tomato from the vine and you think “ohhhh” because now you really understand what tomatoes are.
That’s what it’s like to stop going around.
Also, I have loved getting to know my new life. I love my little apartment, with it’s big windows and it’s hardwood floors and it’s basil-on-the-windowsill. I love the humble routines of my days. I love choosing things for myself—everything from how the budget is spent to where I keep the lentils.
I’ve never chosen my life like this, before. Compromises are a natural part of a marriage, but because Gary and I got together when I was so young (and his life was so fully formed), I just fit into that situation. I never really had the opportunity to find out who adult-Liz-on-her-own is. I kinda always abdicated that onto Gary’s responsible and steady shoulders. I always feared that there was no adult-Liz underneath the bubbly half-kid I’ve been used to being. Now, I’m finding out that a) there is an adult-Liz there, and b) I like her. A lot.
I have been writing about this journey… every day… but I’ve been very cautious about sharing what I write. When I've done so, it's felt stilted and not as genuine as it usually feels, so I've backed off and relied mostly on posts I'd written a while ago and left in my blog "buffer".
This has led to a new kind of separation for me. I’ve become aware of how much my life-to-keyboard-to-internet pipeline doesn’t always give me the space I need, to think whatever thoughts I want independent of the concept of a “narrative”. The arc of what I write is always intentionally pain-struggle-hope… and I wasn’t all the way at hope yet, and I wanted to give myself time to get there on my own terms.
I’m at hope now. Firmly at hope. At joy—almost so much so that it feels a bit disrespectful to my old life. I’m still not all the way sure how to talk about it, so I’m taking my time. But I wanted to let you know that I am okay.
It’s a good quiet. Like when you take a breath between sentences, when you’re talking.
(Which I’ve never generally done a lot of, but it comes highly--and repeatedly--recommended to me).