February 15, 2017
With her own wings
A lot has changed since I last blogged. It took a while to feel ready to come back here and speak about it frankly, with honesty but without rage. I'm divorced now, a choice I made following a time of great confusion and hurt. I made the feather above from a chunk cut from my wedding dress; a little artistic vision that wouldn't leave me alone. When I see it I think "alis volat propriis", the motto of my state, Oregon, which, translated in the feminine means "she flies with her own wings".
So. It was rough. The last years of my marriage were a tangle of lies. It may, in fact, be that the lying started before the marriage itself, I acknowledge that I have no way to know. Realizing you don't even know what the truth was, when the lies started, is terribly disorienting. I read an article recently that spoke to this. The liar knows the truth, even if they don't share it, and there are no holes missing from their story. If you're the one lied to, however, how do you even begin to reconstruct your story? How do you learn from it when you're not even sure what actually happened?
The most important thing I've learned is that it doesn't hurt some people to lie. For some people it's simply a tool. They can lie to friends and counselors, they can lie with tears running down their face, they can lie while pretending to confess.
I've learned never to ignore my gut. Even, no, especially, if the person it's telling me to get away from seems to be suffering. "But I love you so much" will never, ever, be a reason for me to go against my own wise instincts again. Because while people lie, my gut seems to be pretty good at her job.
I've also learned that there is normal hard for marriage, hard where the natural incompatibilities and misunderstandings and developments that happen between two individuals need caring for, and there is improbably hard. Improbably hard is where there are endless no-win situations created. Where problems are discussed and agreements found but nothing feels better. That kind of hard is the kind of hard that I had and I didn't understand. Now I understand. If a person has done immoral things but wants to see themselves as a good person, they will need for their spouse to be their enemy. And no marriage can succeed where one person secretly treats the other as their enemy.
I wish someone had laid this out for me. All the marriage advice I took to heart was the stuff about patience, accepting your spouse the way they are, and not harboring resentment. That only works, though, if both partners are doing it. If your marriage feels improbably hard, take stock of your situation. Get an individual counselor (in my experience marriage counselors aren't great at detecting lies either) to give you some perspective. And if there is ever a whiff of infidelity, even if it was "only a kiss" (ask me how I know) get the savviest kind of help. For me, I found a lot of good advice at www.chumplady.com. She showed me, systematically, what I was dealing with and helped me move away from it with grace and certainty, so I didn't need to waste any more years than I already had.
It took so much energy to go through that process. And all the dominoes that fall after it: the legal stuff, the money stuff, the kids hurting as their world splinters in two. Life even gave me a few extra dominoes (like my car getting totaled) allowing me to see without a doubt that I've got this. Well, got this with the help of family and friends who I will never be able to repay for being there with humor and compassion and downright hands on help when the chips were down. And thanks go also to you lovely quilters for all the words of encouragement you gave me way back when. You have no idea how often I re-read your kind thoughts.
So, things are better. I'm getting back to living my life. The kids are bringing their bravery and big hearts to adapting to living in two houses. I just finished writing my third book. I feel like I've put myself back together pretty well overall, but... I haven't regained my center as an artist. It's intriguing to me that that's the tenderest spot left. I'm ready to nurture it, and to share with you the fruit of the few seeds I managed to plant during the last year. I'm relieved that I can be honest about my world here again, in the way that I used to treasure. So that's where I've been, and where I am. Thanks for letting me catch you up on the story, and I'll see you soon!
Posted by Christina at 5:11 PM