…I’m getting divorced.
So, there it is. Now you know.
It has taken me awhile to figure out how to share this very personal news with you. In fact, I’ve already been separated for nearly a year, and I’ve debated not saying anything at all, just letting the fact that I was married for decades slip quietly into the annals of internet history. That way the weirdos who like to stalk their new favorite author (lol jk) could still spend an afternoon procrastinating all the bits and pieces together until they had a rough timeline. As is, the story the internet tells is that I got married when I was a teenager and appeared to stay pretty happily married until some undefined moment in my early 40’s when instances of the man who was my husband appear fewer and farther between until they trail off completely. The end.
But we all know the internet never really tells the whole truth, don’t we? This blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – these are, more or less, art installations filled with carefully curated pieces of my life and faith and family, hand selected to tell only the parts of the story that are suitable for public consumption. That said, honesty and vulnerability have always been high values around here, so I have struggled a great deal to figure out when to tell you about my impending divorce and exactly how much to share. This is, in part, why I’ve been so quiet for so long.
In this process, four things have helped me figure out the way forward…
First, early on, a smart friend reminded me that there’s a world of difference between secrecy and privacy. Secrecy is driven by shame and self-preservation, while privacy is created by healthy boundaries and self-care. My divorce is not a secret and I am not ashamed, but it is private. Over the past year, I have been open with my real-life community, awkwardly disclosing my separation to aquaintances I’ve run into at the grocery store and the gym and, well, just about everywhere else. At the same time, I’ve chosen to maintain the privacy required for the two of us to find our feet, to discern our separate paths, and to begin to forge a future apart.
Second, in Anne Lammot’s book, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life, she tells us, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” As the author of a newly released memoir, I’ve been trying to figure out how to lay down the sad but long-overdue end of my marriage in words that are truthful, but also kind. The older I get, the more I’ve come to understand that there are no real villains, only broken people with deep wounds who cannot help but to bleed onto others. Anne is right, of course, I do own my story. But, for me, the most freeing part of this is knowing that because I own it, I can choose to tell it or not. Should I eventually share about this part of my life, I hope to do so with all of the grace and compassion I’ve learned from following Jesus, but to tell this story now would be to scribble it out in the blood of my own wounds. …And I think we can all agree, writing in blood is just gross. Nobody needs to see that.
Third is this. Today you’ll be left wondering precisely WHY I’m getting divorced after nearly 25 years of marriage…because I’m not going tell you. In addition to being too personal and painful to share in a public arena at this time, the details are, quite frankly, none of your damn business. But I am gonna go ahead and say this next thing, because I know that (despite all of my eye-rolling and protestations) some of you consider me a role model or a leader or whatever. So here it is:
You would be proud of me.
The truth is, my marriage has been over for a long, long time, and you would approve of the energy and effort I put into saving a dead thing. If you knew how hard I worked to make a still heart beat again, if you knew how fervently I prayed, if you knew how often I begged God for a miracle, a resurrection, you would know that it was well beyond time to call the end. I still believe wholeheartedly in the covenant of marriage and I will always be heartbroken that the promise I stepped into as a naïve teenager went unfulfilled. Know that if there had been a way to bring my marriage back to life, I surely would have found it.
And that brings me to the fourth thing, the thing that has given me much Hope in the face of fear and despair over this past year. See, in Christ I learned that you can’t have a resurrection without first a death, and for so long I believed that it was my marriage that needed bringing back. There was a very long time in which I would have given anything to make it better, paid any price, forgiven any debt, made any sacrifice. And while I’ve never really been the kind of Christian who hears the audible voice of the Holy Spirit, there came a day when I cried out to God, “Please, please, please fix it!”, and God cried back…
“But it’s you, Baby Girl. It’s you who died. And it’s you I will raise back to life.”
In the end, I had to bury something dead that I might become something alive.
And so, I did.
Because that’s how resurrection works.